The attitude that the violence associated with the cartoons of Mohammad is a "sure sign that they hate our freedom" is slightly misguided (The Mail, March 15). This is a very delicate time. It calls for a lot of patience and, indeed, some walking on eggshells. If Muslims believe that to depict their prophet is wrong, then it is our more compassionate choice to not exploit that. Yes, in theory, Western newspapers are right for publishing these pictures, to express their freedom of speech. However, in practicality, it's insensitive.

Instead of further dividing East and West or American and American and entrenching ourselves, maybe we can come to a greater understanding and patience with each side. Let us also remember, there is a war in the backyard of the Middle East.

Misha Cohen, Highland Parkway, Rochester


I am getting tired of hearing the Danish-cartoon issue being addressed as a "freedom of the press" issue. Let's face it, whether we are conservatives or liberals, we don't like people with a different lifestyle or viewpoint from ours, and we use the "freedom of the press " banner to disguise and proclaim our bigotry.

Conservatives don't like gays and pro-abortionists, and liberals don't like Evangelical Christians and pro-lifers. Conservatives and liberals both don't like, for different reasons, the Muslims. All of these prejudices are reflected in today's conservative and liberal press.

Raymond Liutkus, Hardwood Lane, Webster


Regarding "The Attack on Roe," (Urban Journal, March 15): I don't approve of the South Dakota legislature's frontal assault on Roe v. Wade. I know the law is a test that will probably be struck down by the lower courts before it gets to the Supreme Court, but I think some allowances should be made for abortion besides the health of the mother, such as rape and incest. The way this law is formulated offends even some conservatives like me, and I think it's a tactical mistake that will backfire on Roe's critics.

However: you talk about the hoped-for victory by the Dems in the upcoming mid-term election as a "return to two-party government." For decades at a time between FDR's onset of the New Deal coalition and 1994 --- that is, for some 60 years --- the Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress and, when FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and (briefly) Clinton were presidents, also the White House.

Furthermore, with the Warren court, you could say they controlled also the Supreme Court. I have never heard a liberal refer to those years as "one-party government."

My second observation has to do with the by now tedious inference that you, and liberals, make about a possible overturning of Roe as "outlawing abortion." This is a scarecrow that liberals have been agitating for decades. An overturning of Roe will simply mean the acknowledgement that abortion is not a constitutional right --- that's right! --- and that its regulation should return to its proper place: to the states and the people who live in them.

You can be sure that, once Roe v. Wade is overturned, some states will enact some rather liberal statutes on abortion and some more restrictive, just like the statutes on marriage and divorce. The constitution makes no mention of marriage and divorce, leaving those two fundamental institutions to the wisdom of the people to regulate. The same should apply to abortion.

Yes, unwanted pregnancies do happen for all the reasons that you listed, including (albeit you did not mention it specifically) when a man and a woman, fond of each other, married or not, make love and... oops!... she gets pregnant. Do you believe that in all cases the decision to abort belongs exclusively to the woman, and that parents or guardians (if she's a minor) or husband or lover (if the act was consensual) need not be heard from?

My second question has to do with the fetus. Whether you like it or not, the fetus is a human being in the making with his/her DNA. I find it surprising that you are ready to attend a vigil for a death-row inmate who, after all, is someone convicted of a crime (sometimes absolutely heinous), has been given exhaustive due process lasting, on average, 15 to 20 years, and, when put to death, undergoes an execution that, however you want to look at it, is immensely more humane that the death he imposed on his victims. You are ready to cry for "Tookey" Williams but not the countless unborn children "executed" every year for the simple fact that they are inconvenient. I formally ask you if you believe the fetus is simply an organ of the mother to be disposed of at will like a malfunctioning kidney or a cancerous lung?

I hope you don't consider these questions trivial. They reflect profound ethical issues, which, while grounded in religion, have nothing to do with fear of sex (I quite like it, thank you!) or desire to harm women (all in all, to paraphrase WC Fields, I'd rather live in a world with women in it).

Italo G. Savella, FernwoodPark, Rochester

Mary Anna Towler's response: To this liberal, any time a single party controls all branches of government, we have a one-party government. That's not healthy for democracy --- particularly when the person at the top is doing everything possible to erode both individual rights and the separation of powers.

As for your comments on abortion: I don't consider your questions to be trivial. And I noted in my column that opposition to abortion is based on complicated things --- deeply held religious beliefs, attitudes toward sex, attitudes toward women. Those are not trivial, either. As you say, many of them reflect profound ethical concerns.

But nearly all revolve around one issue: whether once an egg has been fertilized, a human being has been created and must not be harmed. Many of us do not believe that, and I don't believe it is right to impose that belief on the rest of us. (And regarding who should make the decision: are you suggesting that a man should be able to force a woman to continue a pregnancy she does not want? Should he be able to force her to bear a child? Should a teenager afraid of her parents, or a daughter raped by her father, be forced to bear a child?)

I find abortion opponents' position particularly confusing when they propose criminal sanctions against doctors who perform abortions. If abortion is murder, is the woman not complicit? Is there some reason why abortion opponents don't want to prosecute the woman?

On the "outlawing" issue: you're right, and I misspoke. Overturning Roe will not outlaw abortion nationwide. It's highly likely that some states --- New York included --- will continue to have pro-choice legislation.

A report by the Center for Reproductive Rights concludes that women's abortion rights are "secure" in 20 states. But women in the other states risk losing the right to an abortion --- and in 21 of those states, says the Center, there is a high risk. For a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy in one of those states, the choice will be stark: try to find a way to get to a state where abortions are legal, or risk serious injury or death with an illegal abortion.

To argue that an issue involving women's health and lives is merely a states-rights issue gives me chills. Let me repeat: This is a women's health issue, an issue of women's lives. If Roe is overturned, many states will outlaw abortions. We will not see an end to abortions in those states. We will see a return to the days of unsafe abortions.


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