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by Abigail Van Buren

Power to Make a Choice Is Every Woman's Right

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Pro-Choice Grandma" has caused me to write my very first letter to you.

I, too, am a grandma, though only 60 years old. When my children were small, we discovered they suffered from brittle bone disease that caused their bones to break easily.

Our younger son was 5 when the first broken leg occurred. During that year, he broke his leg three times in less than nine months. To date, he has broken his legs a total of 22 times. He also broke his back and neck in an accident and is a paraplegic now.

Our older son has broken his legs six times. As soon as my boys were diagnosed with this condition, I promised myself I would not bring another child into this world to suffer as they have.

Abortions were not legal or acceptable in the early '60s, nor was permanent sterilization available for women in our area. We did everything we knew to prevent another pregnancy, but I knew in my heart that if indeed I did get pregnant again, I would not carry the baby to term. The good Lord blessed us by not forcing us to make that decision, but the fact that I might have had to have an abortion has enabled me to be more understanding of others who make the decision to end an unplanned pregnancy.

My younger son once told me that he would not have been able to forgive us for bringing him into this world, knowing he would suffer like he has. However, since we knew nothing of this condition until he was 5, he could not hold us responsible. He has chosen not to pass this condition on to his children. He has since married a lovely girl with two precious daughters who are now his children and our grandchildren. We are also blessed with two wonderful godchildren.

I join with those who are pro-choice, and agree that only the individual knows how much she can handle, and the decision should be hers to make. -- BLESSED GRANDMA IN KANSAS CITY, MO.

DEAR GRANDMA: Your letter proves once again that there are many circumstances that make it imperative that individuals be allowed to make a choice for themselves. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I want to join "Pro-Choice Grandma." Where is it written that the only "choice" pregnant women will make is abortion? Choice means just that -- the woman has a right to decide for herself, her body and her pregnancy. She might just as easily choose to have her baby, have it adopted or keep it herself.

The way I see it, I can be pro-choice and pro-life at the same time. I would make a CHOICE to keep my baby. My niece chose adoption when she was pregnant after a date rape. I might have counseled her (had she asked me) to have her baby, but if she had chosen abortion, I believe that would have been her affair.

Each person's pain or joy is her own. There's no reason why another person should claim the right to decide how things should be for another. The right to "choose" for one's self is an individual right. -- GRANNY IN LONG BEACH

DEAR GRANNY: Absolutely. And it is a right that women had to wage a vigorous and protracted battle to win. However, it is also a right that, if taken for granted, will surely be lost -- and no one should forget that fact.

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