What Is the Real Meaning of ‘Pro-Life’?

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  • The Texas Abortion Ruling
  • The Campus Clash of Free Speech and Antisemitism
  • The Undemocratic Electoral College
  • Trump and NATO

Credit…Illustration by Alicia Tatone; Photographs by Yiming Chen, SDI Productions, Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Republicans Are Finding Out That ‘Pro-Life’ Has Too Many Meanings,” by Liz Mair (Opinion guest essay, Dec. 6):

Ms. Mair, a G.O.P. campaign strategist, writes about all the desperate ways Republican politicians are trying to explain their stance on abortion now that their decades-long fight to make it illegal has taken a step forward.

It seems her clients are scrambling, surprised to find that “rank-and-file G.O.P. voters are not as pro-life as we might have thought.”

The medical community is not surprised. You see, there are no party affiliation requirements for unplanned or medically doomed pregnancies. Doctors have seen staunch Republicans obtain safe and legal abortions for decades. I’m sure that every single white male Republican legislator who signs “heartbeat” laws, piously claims he is pro-life and rails against Planned Parenthood knows a woman who has had an abortion. And he may have caused one himself.

Instead of spinning the message on their terrible policies, her advice to her G.O.P. clients should be to stop blocking funding for reliable contraception, stop interfering with medical decisions between women and their doctors and start writing laws that support women who can’t afford another pregnancy because of poverty, a lack of postpartum job security or abusive partners.

You know, “pro-life” stuff.

Cheryl Bailey
St. Paul, Minn.
The writer is a retired gynecologic oncologist.

To the Editor:

In recommending that Republicans finesse the abortion issue, Liz Mair doesn’t mention one point. Pro-choice advocates are not anti-life, but we disagree with those who call themselves pro-life in two fundamental ways. We do not believe that humans can claim to know what God — who certainly allows miscarriages — wants, and we do not believe that humans claiming to have this knowledge have a right to impose their religious beliefs on others.

Republicans may continue to succeed politically by demagoguing the abortion issue, but most Americans, religious or not, do not believe that the law should forbid women from obtaining a safe abortion.

Jamie Baldwin
Redding, Conn.

To the Editor:

Liz Mair is absolutely correct that “pro-life” has many meanings, but she mistakenly focuses only on abortion.

Being “pro-life” also means things like good pre- and post-natal care for all mothers; good health care for everyone, including babies born to the poorest among us; accessible and affordable child care and preschool for all; gun safety laws to ensure that bullets are no longer the biggest cause of accidental death among U.S. children, and, not least, more commitment to combating climate change.

Republicans need to consider these matters when they (or if they) decide to come up with a better, more marketable definition of “pro-life.”

Nadine Godwin
New York

The Texas Abortion Ruling

Credit…Kate Cox, via Associated Press

To the Editor:

Re “Texas Supreme Court Rules Against Woman Who Sought Abortion” (news article, Dec. 12):

I hope the women of Texas go on strike and march to the state capital. Women, especially mothers, all over the country will stand with them.

Eve Rumpf-Sternberg

To the Editor:

Is there no end to these people’s cruelty?

Linda Grunbaum
New York

The Campus Clash of Free Speech and Antisemitism

Credit…Adam Glanzman for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Censorship Can’t Help University Presidents,” by David French (column, Dec. 11):

Mr. French argues that what American campuses need is more viewpoint diversity and true freedom of speech — not the current hypocrisy of some speech being favored and other speech censored.

But what Mr. French does not mention at all is the need for morality and truth to be part of the curriculum. President John F. Kennedy, a Harvard alumnus, said “the goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.”

The university presidents’ failure before Congress to unambiguously repudiate calls for “the genocide of Jews” reflected how far these schools have strayed from that purpose. Allowing more speech on campus without a moral compass will yield only more noise and little else.

Nathan J. Diament
The writer is the executive director for public policy of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

The Undemocratic Electoral College

Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “‘The Exploding Cigar of American Politics,’” by Gail Collins (column, Nov. 30):

Ms. Collins’s excellent column about the Electoral College should have commented more on the U.S. Senate, which is even more unrepresentative and undemocratic.

Two out of three of our elected national arms of government are unrepresentative. (The third “arm,” the House, is roughly representative, but tainted by gerrymandering, “dark” money and increasing voter suppression.)

The Electoral College has overturned the national popular vote five times in America’s nearly 250-year history, but twice already in this still young century. It’s likely to happen again, probably soon (’24?).

One reason the founding fathers decided not to have direct elections to the presidency was a fear of a mostly uneducated and ill-informed electorate voting in either a fraudster or a populist demagogue as president. Some would say we got two for the price of one in 2016.

We should abolish the Electoral College and directly vote for the president (as we do for the Senate and the House). Failing that, embrace the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, by which states agree to award their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

I dread the day when many more Americans despair of the ballot box and instead choose far more dangerous ways of expressing their will — i.e., more Capitol insurrections, but successful ones.

The founding fathers must be spinning in their graves at our inability to modernize our now dangerously outdated Constitution.

Michael Northmore
Staten Island

Trump and NATO

Former President Donald J. Trump has made it clear that he primarily sees NATO as a drain on American resources.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Trump’s Stance Toward NATO Alarms Europe” (front page, Dec. 10):

I’m 73 years old and frightened. So many things I have taken for granted my entire life are threatened. My dad fought overseas in World War II. He, and I, always assumed that the things he fought for would remain protected.

I never contemplated that the coalitions we established with our allies after the war would be threatened. I came to believe that the isolationism thriving before the war had been essentially put to rest.

But now Donald Trump and his disciples have awakened the blind nationalism that raises the specter of totalitarianism. That menace should strike terror in all who treasure our democracy.

And we can’t allow a feeling of helplessness or a belief that such things could never happen here prevent us from protecting what we can no longer take for granted.

Stephen F. Gladstone
Shaker Heights, Ohio

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