To the editors:

Cate Plys’s “No Choice” (April 17) contains a most telling revelation: “Prochoice activists argue that abortion costs pale compared to the cost of prenatal care, delivery, and subsequent medicaid and welfare payments for the child.” Of course tax-funded abortion is less of a strain on the public purse. Of course it is less costly to kill the children of the poor and at the same time subject their mothers to emotionally devastating surgery, than to provide them with REAL options. Less costly for whom, though? Not for poor women and children (both born and unborn) but rather for rich white taxpayers who would rather hold on to their Caribbean vacations and luxury cars than give a damn about human beings in need, their pseudoliberal rhetoric notwithstanding.

A truly prolife society–one which cuts down the abortion rate primarily through the provision of life-affirming reproductive choices like those the aforementioned prochoice activists lament as too expensive–represents a challenge to established power structures. The way of nonviolence always does. That is one reason why it is always more difficult to follow and implement. But poor women and children deserve no less. I say this not from the ivory tower but from out of my experiences as a low-income parent and a crisis pregnancy/postabortion counselor.

Mary Krane Derr

E. 53rd

Cate Plys replies:

Ms. Derr makes an important point: No woman should feel that abortion is her only choice due to her economic status. Every prochoice official I spoke with made this point and argued for better public services for mothers and children. That is, unfortunately, a goal and not a reality. The current wave of welfare-benefits reductions–and upcoming legislation in Springfield denying additional benefits to mothers who give birth while on welfare–suggests it will remain so. The cost of abortion versus childbirth came up with prochoice officials only in response to the standard prolife argument that abortion is too expensive to be publicly funded–a central argument against reinstatement of abortion at Cook County Hospital.