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Letter to the editor: I'm not an evil pro-choice person

To the editor:

When I was teaching at the University of Kentucky in the 1990s, a former student of mine

stopped by my office to chat. After a few awkward minutes, she started crying and then told me why

she came to see me. She was then a legal assistant at a very Christian law firm. However, she was

currently pregnant and unwed, and one of her colleagues told her that she would be fired were her

employers to discover that she was with child. In a voice of anguish that I still remember to this day, she

looked at me and said: "How can I raise a child if I don't have a job?" She then asked me if it was Ok to

have an abortion. I told her that I could not offer her advice on such a sensitive and personal matter, but

I tried to indicate that I was listening to her story and could empathize with her situation.

This was a significant turning point in my life. Born and raised Catholic, I studied for the

priesthood, so I had formal training in Christian theology. In college, I translated the New Testament

from Greek to English, studied Christian history, and mastered the arguments opposing abortion. But

when I went to graduate school to earn my PhD, I started to realize that there were problems with the

arguments opposing abortion, so I softened my stance considerably. But abortion has always been a

complicated issue for me.

On the one hand, I share the Catholic belief that life is sacred, that every minute is a gift worth

treasuring, and that it seems a crime to end life. But on the other hand, I do not believe that human life

begins when the sperm fertilizes an egg, so I do not believe that abortion is the taking of a human life.

Life, for me, is what happens in the everyday world. It is how we treat others, how I prepare my

students for happiness and success, and how we establish a government that ensures freedom and

democracy. Those of us who are pro-choice are also pro-life.

I am not trying to persuade anyone to become pro-choice or anti-abortion. I respect those who

have thoughtfully considered their anti-abortion positions. They believe that abortion is murder. I

passionately and vehemently disagree with this view, but I understand why and how people have come

to this conclusion. But for those of us who are pro-choice, we believe that abortion is oftentimes a

painful and even a heart-wrenching choice, something not to be taken lightly, something definitely not

to desire. But we pro-choice people are not the evil murderers that some say that we are. We are just

like those who oppose abortion in that we are people who have struggled to arrive at a system of belief

and who desire to live a good and just life. The major difference is that we have arrived at a very

different conclusion from those who oppose abortion.

Michael Lackey