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Voices / Letters from readers

Columnist replies to ‘facile proclamations’ about women’s choices

RE: “Abortion might be legal, but that doesn’t mean it's right” [Counterpoint, Aug. 28]:

As he vociferously and spuriously disputes my recent column, Kenneth Scipione shows a stunning lack of knowledge on a number of counts (and a shameful disdain for women).

First, as all misogynists do, he lays at the feet of women the total responsibility for the caretaking of others — in this case, the entire “big beautiful country of ours.” That kind of reductionist statement comes straight from the conservative historical playbook that believes women can be described in only two ways; they are either “the angel in the house” or “the mad woman in the attic.”

Either way, they have no right to sexuality. Mr. Scipione would have all women deny their right to the biological drive and the pleasure of sexual activity. Men, it seems, can go full steam ahead, as he never once mentions men in his diatribe, although one wonders who they are having sex with if women must never partake in sexual activity, since they alone must ensure against the possibility of abortion.

Mr. Scipione shows a stunning lack of understanding about how research is conducted and conclusions are drawn. He wonders how Planned Parenthood “reached such an astounding conclusion” about women’s post-abortion feelings, since they couldn’t possibly have interviewed every woman in America who had an abortion.

No researcher ever interviews every single individual who has experience with the topic — that would be impossible and absurd. Instead, researchers design carefully developed scientific methodologies that include a representative sample of subjects.

This sample is large enough that conclusions can be drawn from well-crafted, large-scale studies that afford a standard deviation of possible error and that are replicable and validated by other research on the same topic.

One of Mr. Scipione’s most egregious statements is that having witnessed “numerous women coming out of an abortion clinic [and] not one of them looked relieved or happy.” (What, we must ask, is he doing lurking around so-called “abortion clinics”?)

He seems totally unaware of the fact that Planned Parenthood offers a full range of reproductive health services — to both women and men.

The women he observed looking sad might have just learned that they are infertile or have troubling mammogram results or are suffering symptoms of serious gynecological conditions. His absence of compassion for these patients is stunning.

Mr. Scipione also needs to know that Planned Parenthood’s abortion services comprise only 3 percent of the organization’s activities overall, and that many of its facilities don’t provide abortions at all — they refer.

Further, there is no way to “soften” the deeply difficult decision to have an abortion, as Mr. Scipione claims.

Equally, no man has a right to judge a women’s very private and painful decisions about her body and life. It is also necessary to point out that no one “kills an unborn child.” Women terminate a pregnancy and in so doing remove a fetus.

Mr. Scipione’s facile proclamations about women’s choices are mindbogglingly daft, but none are more cruel than claiming that victims of rape or incest “have available to them the ability to prevent pregnancy.” Really? Time to grab a condom or insist on using one when they are being assaulted in the most hideous way imaginable?

I must take particular umbrage at Mr. Scipione’s claim that I “believe killing unborn children is just fine.” He knows nothing about what I believe about anything, but he surely knows better than to accost me with this heinous accusation. Nor do I appreciate his mindless claim that I have “a serious problem with men.”

What I have a problem with is men who willfully, and often threateningly, exercise power and control over others, especially women, as my column to which he refers made abundantly clear.

Finally, Abraham Lincoln never said anything about “pro-choice rhetoric,” although he famously did talk about fooling people. Mr. Scipione and others are quite free to “pray that we are not fooled,” but I can assure him and others that their prayers will not stop women — and men — from availing themselves of the competent, compassionate, affordable care provided by Planned Parenthood in our community, and across the country.

For that, we can all thank God.

Elayne Clift
Saxtons River

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Originally published in The Commons issue #526 (Wednesday, September 4, 2019). This story appeared on page E3.

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