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Abortion and America’s Polarized Politics

More from our inbox:

  • A Threat to Democracy
  • U.S. Should Focus on Diplomacy, Not Arms Shipments to Ukraine
  • Don’t Name the Gunman

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “How Roe Warped the Public,” by Ross Douthat (column, May 8):

Mr. Douthat argues that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was “an inflection point where the choices of elite liberalism actively pushed the Republic toward our current divisions,” but he ignores three glaring facts.

First, Roe v. Wade still aligns well with the American people’s best sense about the complexity of abortion: that it be safe, legal and rare. Second, it was deliberate decisions by conservative elites that weaponized minority opposition to abortion for their own goals. Third, it is the unyielding minority religious belief that personhood begins at the moment of conception that has been driving the divisive politics of abortion for decades.

Frederick Civian
Dedham, Mass.

To the Editor:

Ross Douthat lays the social divisions of this country at the feet of the liberal elites who foolishly made the mistake of codifying a constitutional right not specifically delineated in our Constitution. He overlooks the deliberate choice of abortion as a politically galvanizing issue by movement conservatives who, seeking to unite a party in disarray after the “Southern strategy” and Watergate, fixed on abortion as a standard to unite under.

Abortion was not originally a significant concern of evangelicals and was simply one tool they picked to create and sustain the quest for political control. Mr. Douthat, while thoughtful, is simply dead wrong on this one.

Andrew Mishkin
Portland, Maine

To the Editor:

Ross Douthat’s column about Roe was exceptionally brilliant. In an age when so much opinion content is designed to simplify complex issues, to create easy distillations that fit into previously established convictions, it takes courage to present issues with nuance and complexity and trust that readers will reward you for it.

Well done, Ross!

Ben Lincoln
Mount Desert Island, Maine

To the Editor:

I am a strongly pro-choice feminist, and I understand and respect the perspective of people who are opposed to abortion. However, opposition to abortion has taken on an element that is not pro-life. Not making an exception for instances of rape and incest suggests a lack of compassion, rather than reverence for life. Criminalizing and instigating vigilante injustice suggest not just lack of compassion, but also punishment and vindictiveness.

Where in this response is the love and mercy that are at the heart of the message of Jesus?

Berne Weiss
Estoril, Portugal

A Threat to Democracy

Credit…Bernardo Bagulho

To the Editor:

“Running for Office to ‘Stop the Steal,’” by Barbara McQuade (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, May 15), should strike fear in the heart of every patriotic American.

Between now and November, honest Americans of every political stripe need to get the word out that Donald Trump is working frantically to elect “his” state legislators, secretaries of state and election officials who will replace the honest bipartisan ones who said there was no election fraud in 2020. His apparent goal is to have Trump electors tallied instead of legally chosen ones in what could be our last free election.

People need to be reminded how Mr. Trump attempted to cajole officials — even his own vice president — into overturning an honest election. Now he’s learned a better way to do it, and only the voters can prevent this electoral calamity and national tragedy.

Two years from now our democracy could be in as much danger as Ukraine’s is now, but without one missile being launched or one shot being fired.

Bobby Braddock
Nashville

U.S. Should Focus on Diplomacy, Not Arms Shipments to Ukraine

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Perils of 2 Ukraine War Endgames” (column, May 15):

Ross Douthat is right to envision these endgame scenarios. He fears that if the Ukrainian military (with U.S. weapons support) should come close to expelling the Russian forces, “nuclear escalation suddenly becomes more likely than it is right now.”

If the Russians should decide to end a protracted war with a tactical nuclear strike on Ukraine, the U.S. might be tempted to retaliate against Russia with its own nukes. Both sides have put the nuclear option back on the table.

Even short of World War III, a continuing military stalemate in the Donbas would likely have serious consequences: global grain shortages, starvation in poor countries and eventual upheavals and mass migration. U.S. arms aid would also come with high domestic costs, including the likely abandonment of needed social programs.

The U.S. and NATO should make the reduction of nuclear war risk a top priority. They should stop stoking the conflict with arms shipments. Instead, they should encourage Volodymyr Zelensky to engage in meaningful negotiations with Vladimir Putin, even if it means territorial concessions in the Donbas region.

President Biden’s objective should now be peace through diplomacy, not endless war through the continuing supply of weapons.

L. Michael Hager
Eastham, Mass.
The writer is co-founder and former director general of the International Development Law Organization.

Don’t Name the Gunman

FBI agents stand outside the supermarket in Buffalo where a racist attack occurred Saturday. Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

To the Editor:

According to the F.B.I. expert who spoke to my synagogue on Sunday about how to survive an attack by an “active shooter,” we should not encourage mentally ill bigots by giving them heroes, that is, by naming other shooters they can emulate.

In other words, every time the news media repeats the shooter’s name, sick folks will have another person to admire. So stop saying those names. What is horrific to us is cool to them. Don’t name them.

Emily Farrell
Philadelphia

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