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August 08, 1981 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1981-08-08

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Opinion
Page 6 Saturday, August 8, 1981 The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCI, No. 58-S
Ninety Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Talking tough
T'S A bit difficult, politically speaking, to
feel undue sympathy toward the striking air
controllers as the Reagan administration con-
tinues to make good on its mass firing threat.
The Professional Air Traffic Controllers
Organization (PATCO) was among the bare
handful of unions who last fall endorsed then-
candidate Ronald Reagan's White House bid,
endorsing the belief that a tough-talking, no-
nonsense, law-and-order president was just the
right prescription for a troubled America.
Now that our chief executive seems commit-
ted to precisely that philosophy regarding the
controller's strike, it's an easy temptation to
smdgly say the strikers were, in effect, getting
precisely what they asked for.
Unfortunately, the dispute's implications for
organized labor in general are far-reaching and
ominous. The right of public employees to
strike is expressly forbidden, not only at the
federal level but at virtually allstate and local
levels as well; clearly President Reagan's
dismissal campaign against the controllers
stands on solid legal footing.
The morality and practicality of such a hard-
line stance is quite another matter. Walkouts by
public employees are hardly anomalous in
America's labor history: From teachers to
sanitation workers to police officers, strikes
among public workers have proved almost as
commonplace as those in prijvate industry.
While in virtually all instances the state or
municipal government holds the power of
dismissal, such power has rarely been exer-
cised save in the most extreme circumstances.
A persistent reliance upon moderation and
flexibility has remained the guiding doctrine
and saving grace in the preponderance of
government-labor disputes-disputes solved
with minimum suffering to government,
strikers and the public at large.
The Reagan administration seems im-
placably opposed to this kind of pragmatism.
For all the president's embellished puffery
about having once led his actors' union out on
strike, he remains a rabid foe of labor on almost
all counts. Paying homage to his professed idol,
Calvin Coolidge, Mr. Reagan proclaims piously
that since the strikers are breaking the law, he
has absolutely no choice but to come down with
an iron fist. By renouncing compromise, the
President thus glibly renounces five decades of
progress in labor-management relations.
Such a get-tough stance is not likely to in-
timidate government unions. If anything, it will
merely stiffen their resolve-waving a
metaphorical red cape has rarely served to
placate anyone.

Abortion: Welfare of the living

By Joshua Peck
John Critchett's muddleheaded
essay on abortion, "The futility of
defining life," (Daily, July 31) is
only an extreme example of the
kind of poor thinking certain pro-
choicers have been doing in the
eight years since legal abortion
became a fact. Though the very
headline indicates Critchett's
liberal leanings on the matter, he
does not even overtly identify
himself as favoring freedom of
choice.
I, too, am pro-choice, but I am
disgusted with the cowardly ap-
proach many of my ideological
brothers and sisters have adop-
ted. The difficulty, quite simply,
is that liberals have been
refusing to speak to the issues
thatsthe Right-to-Life movement
raises.
SUCH AVOIDANCE tactics
might make sense if the op-
position were composed of raging
lunatics, but "pro-lifers" are
nothing of the kind. By and large,
they are reasonable, rational
people with a strong sense of
compassion and morality, ad-
mirable qualities all. It just so
happens that on this issue, their
decency has led them into an an-
ti-humanitarian position-one
which must be fought tooth and
nail.
Critchett believes the pro-life
argument "runs something like
this: Life begins at conception
.because the ovum (fertilized egg
cell) is potentially a human
being.'
Leaving aside the fact that an
ovum is a pre-fertilized egg cell,
Critchett's assertion about the
pro-life argument is just plain
wrong. All the literature I've seen
from Lifespan & Co. has in-
dicated that the movement sees
the zygote as being a complete
human being with all its atten-
dant rights, not as a "potential"
human.
THE PARTY line for many
pro-choicers is the complaint:
"You can't tell women what to do
with their bodies," or, even more
common, "You mustn't impose
your morality on me." As
elements of a more comprehen-
sive and involved argument,
those sentiments are fine. On
their own, they simply don't
stand up.
The first ignores the possibility
that there is a second human, the
fetus, involved in the abortion
decision; the second overlooks
the verity that much law is
designed specifically for the pur-
pose of codifying a standard of
behavior. Certainly, no religious
sect would or should be allowed
the "right" of severely beating
its young in order to show them
the way. The pro-lifers see their
program as the extension of that
same reasonable principle.
The argument that the pro-life
effort is strictly a product of the

Catholic Church is off target as
well. Not only doesn't it seem to
have much relation to fact-I've
met many Protestant, Jewish,
and atheist opponents of abor-
tion-but it improperly suggests
that private religious belief is off
limits as a source of public
morality. For the millions of
Americans whose opposition to
murder, theft, and adultry are
solidly rooted in the twentieth
chapter of Exodus, that assertion
would come as something of a
shock.
IFkALL THESE multifarious
approaches to the question are
flawed, where then to turn? To a
WHEN DOES
LIFE BEGIN?
calm but firm reply to the right-
to-life movement that takes the
issue seriously enough to address
directly the questions the pro-
lifers raise. Thus:
To my respected opponents: I
understand that your campaign
against freedom of choice in
abortion is for you a matter of life
and death. I understand that your
campaign, which to me smacks
of assault on a precious liberty, is
from your perspective the defen-
se of the most precious liberty of
all.
But Ireject your insistence that
the life of the fetus ought to take
precedence over a woman's
welfare. Once more, for the hard
of hearing: A woman's welfare
must take precedence over fetal
life.
I HAVE had three friends who
have made the difficult decision
to abort in the last five years.
Three different methods of birth
control, all consciously used,
Unsigned editorials appea
this page represent a majori
Editorial Board. Letters an
opinions of the individual
necessarily reflect the attitud

failed.
These women were not callous
or violent people. None relished
the thought of terminating the
development of the being within
her womb.
Yet each approached the clinic
with the certainty that carrying a
child to term would cause her suf-
fering she could not face.
I am inclined to agree with you
that abortion is an awful option. I
wish the well-organized ranks of
the right-to-lifers were taking
bolderstepstto eliminate the .
necessity for it.
BUT THE very fact that my
own acquaintances and millions
IF? YOU IHAE ID ASK
'DLLt NEVER UNQEWSAVP
of other women have chosen that
unpleasant procedure is proof
that they ought to have access to
it. For clearly, they regard the
alternatives as far, far worse.
I would not object to legislative
incentive to encourage early
abortion over later abortion, to
hold fetal pain (if indeed, any is
experienced) to the barest
possible minimum.
But we must not forget that we
are talking about a bigger and
more enduring pain too-the
physical, emotional,
psychological trauma of unwan-
ted pregnancy. I say that the
welfare of those humans who live
and breathe and walk among us
must come first.
Let us arm ourselves, though,
with logic and compassion-not
ignorance and evasion.
Joshua Peck is former
Editorial Page Director for the
Michigan Daily.
ring on the left side of
y opinion of the Daily's
I columns represent the
author(s) and do not
es or beliefs of the Daily.

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