Viability, not looks

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In the world in which all contraceptives are 100 percent effective and all women have access to the ones that are best suited to their needs; in which maternal death or disability from childbirth never occurs; in which families are supported by workplace policies that prioritize parental responsibilities over profit; in which no family has to live in an unfit house or an unsafe neighborhood or in a car or under a bridge, and no children are hungry or ill-clothed and without access to good schools and recreation; and in which no woman is ever forced to have sex against her will and any woman who has an unwanted pregnancy can easily find a safe and affordable abortion -- in such a world it might be possible to consider Kathleen Parker's criticism of opposition to banning abortion at 20 weeks' gestation because a fetus at that stage "looks very much like a baby" ("Saint Wendy: Filibustering Does Not Make a Hero," July 4).

In our world, it often takes several weeks for women to make arrangements with work and family responsibilities, raise money and travel to a clinic, and comply with unnecessary procedures designed to shame her. State-mandated delays force women to have abortions much later than they might choose. No matter what it looks like, a 20-week fetus is not viable. An embryo has slits that look very much like gills, but I would not suggest that we place it in an aquarium.

Ms. Parker's argument from appearance is a distraction and reduces a woman's life-changing decision to a triviality.

Squirrel Hill



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