I am writing with concern over the publication of M.D. Harmon’s column in the Jan. 21 paper regarding the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I never thought I’d see something so retrograde and damaging to women’s health in your paper.

Aside from Harmon’s inflammatory tone, his facts are incorrect. It is not true, for example, that “abortion has become our default form of birth control.”

Harmon and others might be pleased to know that with the increase of accessible birth control and sex education, overall rates of abortion have actually decreased in the United States.

He also suggests that before Roe v. Wade, women had fewer abortions because they thought it was wrong. This could not be farther from the truth, either; before 1973, it was illegal in many states for women to have abortions.

This meant that those who found themselves with unwanted pregnancies might subject themselves to “back-alley” abortions or try home remedies to rid themselves of their fetuses, which often resulted in massive infections and sometimes death.

Harmon should be clear about the bottom line: No one wants to find her sister, cousin, mother, or friend in need of an abortion. It’s essential for women’s physical, psychological, and economic health, however, that every woman have access to a clean, safe abortion should she elect to have one.

The majority of Mainers rightly support the right for women to have this choice.

Lisa Botshon

Professor of English and Women’s Studies

University of Maine at Augusta

Brunswick

I was more than pleased to read the column by M.D. Harmon on Jan. 21.

I go back a long way in the examples of the diminishing value of life. In the 1950s, I had many college friends who were Korean War veterans. Difficult to believe, but in those days the fight was for the legalization of birth control.

Many of these men were married and had severely limited income. I had many arguments, with my position being the Catholic Church’s, that not only should all intercourse be limited to married couples and be open to new life, but that legalizing birth control would open the slippery slope to abortion.

Most would disagree with the first of those arguments, but would be forced to agree that the “slippery slope” has been realized. Furthermore, I don’t think that the slope has bottomed out with the legalization of abortion.

Euthanasia is now legal in two states and there are some “highly respected social thinkers” who argue that babies are not really “people” until they’re 2 years old or until they can “contribute” to society.

While I can’t validate it, I also think that what Pope John Paul II called the culture of death has become a norm in society. There seem to be more and more instances of killing as the way to solve one’s “problems.”

Daily, we read of murders associated with marital problems, work-related issues, perceived insults, students gone wild with some cult influences and, perhaps saddest of all, kids opting for death rather than suffer the abuse of bullies.

Society would be much better off if we returned to the founding premise that all people, including those in the womb and sick bed, have the “unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

David T. Melley

Kennebunkport

M.D. Harmon’s rant about abortion is so full of falsehoods, I don’t know where to begin challenging them. But I must take issue with his statement that “abortion has become our default form of birth control, used to support a lifestyle that considers individual responsibility an obsolete idea and the lives of others disposable if they might interfere with ‘personal fulfillment.’ “

In the 19th century, the M.D. Harmons of the day claimed that the suffragists fighting for women’s rights were “making it easy” for women to divorce their husbands, and would thereby destroy the family as the basic unit of society. Yet, somehow, more than a century later, most people grow up in some kind of family — in fact, far fewer Americans grow up in orphanages, thanks to greater access to all forms of birth control.

And women who are abused have a better chance of protecting themselves and their children than they would have in the 1800s.

Abortion is the birth control of last resort, and nobody makes the decision easily, any more than people decide to divorce easily. Nobody is pro-abortion. Pro-choice, yes, but not pro-abortion.

I don’t remember which famous feminist said that “abortion should be safe, legal, accessible, and rare,” but she was right: if girls were raised to respect themselves, in a safe environment in which to reach their potential, with access to safe, effective contraception when (and if) they decide that they are ready for sex, the need for abortion would be minimal.

It’s certainly something to aim for. Meanwhile, no woman should be forced into motherhood because of incest, rape, contraception that fails, or bad decisions made in bad situations (like hopeless poverty).

Claire Prontnicki

Waterville

The op-ed piece written by M.D. Harmon flabbergasted me with its errors and falsehoods, but I take special exception to the following:

He says “…abortion has become our default form of birth control, used to support a lifestyle that considers individual responsibility an obsolete idea and the lives of others disposable if they might interfere with ‘personal fulfillment.’ “

What basis does he have for this slanderous lie? Abortion is a difficult and personal choice, and women do not take it lightly. As a woman I have never used it as a birth control measure, nor has any woman I have known. This statement is just plain outrageous and makes anything else he says suspect.

Then he says that he believes that the elderly may soon be denied treatments that prolong their lives or make them bearable. He is continuing to spread the malicious lie that our government is somehow trying to limit care to the elderly, when just the opposite is true.

It amazes me that your paper would allow such garbage to be published. Where is your journalistic responsibility?

Sylvia Ouellette

Manchester

M.D. Harmon’s column about abortion is an embarrassment to your paper. It is loaded with drama and lies and ridiculous comparisons.

Abortion care is an essential part of women’s health care in this country and around the world. It is about choice, and it is a responsible choice made by women internationally for a multitude of justifiable reasons.

Mr. Harmon obviously harbors a huge level of anger and resentment. I don’t know what his personal issues are — he obviously has many — but his anger is misdirected. His focus is narrow and based on misinformation and bias.

Abortion care is provided with competency, compassion, dignity and understanding — concepts that appear, unfortunately, to be beyond Mr. Harmon’s level of experience.

I would urge you to approach this sensitive subject with an unbiased open mind, open to the honest facts and situations that validate the need and right for women to choose.

You will find that the majority of Mainers support a woman’s right to choose. You will discover a very different picture than Mr. Harmon’s version.

Carol Thibodeau

South China