May 1, 2013

Letters to the editor: Civil rights at center of abortion debate

Regarding "Abortion restrictions continue to gain ground" (April 12): The issue of abortion won't go away, because it is inherently an unresolved civil rights issue -- the civil rights of the unborn.

click image to enlarge

A supporter of abortion rights and an opponent of abortion demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. The split among Americans over whether abortion should be legal “obscures the common ground that many or most can agree on: Abortion should be rare,” a reader says.

2005 File Photo/The Associated Press

Those of us who have stood up for the rights and the dignity of women, African-Americans, immigrants, Native Americans and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community also should recognize the need to respect the rights and dignity of the unborn. 

Women must have the right to control their bodies and to make their own reproductive choices, but there remains an imbalance between the rights of the mother and the rights of her unborn daughter or son. 

Our unborn daughters and sons cannot speak for themselves; it is up to our compassionate, progressive society to speak up for their dignity and rights.

This must be accomplished while remaining fully committed to women's autonomy over their bodies. 

The actions on the part of state legislatures appear to be working to strike a closer balance on abortion rights.

Abortion proponents label themselves "pro-choice," rather than "pro-abortion." This acknowledges that even among those most committed to women's rights to choose, there is discomfort with abortion itself; that abortion should be legal, but rare. 

Yes/no questions of abortion legality divide Americans pretty evenly.  Unfortunately, this obscures the common ground that many or most can agree on: Abortion should be rare.

We need a balanced approach, respecting the rights of the mother while recognizing the dignity and rights of her unborn children to reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies and abortion.

Civil rights will continue to be an issue until all disenfranchised, including the unborn, have been granted dignity, respect and rights. 

If we avoid the most polarizing legal/illegal questions of abortion, we will find some common ground to work together to make abortion more rare.

Thomas Luna
Portland

It's time to take action against toxic chemicals

On April 11, I went to the State House to speak with my representative about why it's important to keep Maine's children safe from toxic chemicals in everyday products. Chemicals like BPA (soup cans), parabens (kids' shampoo) and phthalates (soft plastic toys and shower curtains) have no place in our products, especially those marketed to children.

Maine has passed legislation that has identified 49 priority chemicals linked to incidences of cancer, reproductive issues and hormone disruption, but no action has been taken to reduce these chemicals in our children's products. We need to make sure we are taking action on these chemicals of highest concern.

Fortunately, Sen. Seth Goodall has introduced L.D. 1181, which would make sure that action is finally taken on these 49 priority chemicals. It's time our legislators put the health of our children ahead of the chemical industry's interests by passing L.D. 1181.

When I sat in on the public hearing in Augusta, I saw dozens of Maine parents, doctors and scientists testifying on the importance of this bill. I hope that my legislators will support this legislation.

Parents deserve to know that the products in our homes are safe for our children, and businesses should know that the products they stock are safe for their customers and their customers' families.

Sarah Austin
Portland

Many lovers of music want classical in the mix

This letter is a strong second to John Hartley's letter "WBach is back and the airways are rejoicing" (April 22).

(Continued on page 2)

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