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The Language of the Abortion Debate

Regarding the Opinion page article "Adversaries in Abortion Struggle Can Find Common Ground," April 9: Six times in the article we used the word "pro-life." Every time we used the word it was changed to "anti-abortion" by your editorial staff.

The language change, for those of us in common ground work, is nothing less than destructive of our common ground efforts. This language change tells every astute reader (both pro-choice and pro-life) that in fact, our office is not a common ground office. The message that your paper has communicated is that we are a pro-choice office. This reduces our credibility with our constituencies, particularly those pro-life persons who have reason now to question our evenhandedness.

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Our basic ground rule in doing common ground work is to allow each side in this conflict to name themselves, and to call them by the names they choose, rather than the names the other side imposes upon them. Therefore we have consistently refused to call the pro-life supporters "anti-abortion." Likewise we will not name the pro-choice constituency "pro-abortionist." Adrienne Kaufmann and Mary Jacksteit, Washington Common Ground Coalition for Life & Choice

(Editor's note: The editing changes cited were to bring the piece into accord with Monitor style guidelines, which are designed to ensure consistency to grammar, usage, and punctuation throughout the paper. Every newspaper has its own style policies.) The danger of dark streets

I share the point of view presented in the article "A Place for Innocence on the Night Streets," March 23. The author's prophecy, that "dark streets breed dangerous men who harm women," might be interpreted as self-fulfilling in proportion to the fear of the woman.

I don't walk our moonlit downtown streets surrounded by crime-infested neighborhoods just to test my courage, but the other night, like the author, I needed to be there on business. When I stepped from the car, a man approached. He carried a large sack that bulged in angles like aluminum cans and a long-handled tool. He looked at me and asked if I could spare a quarter.

I told him I had some cans, but when I opened the trunk, I discovered there were only four. I apologized and said I was sorry that they weren't worth much. Without a word, he opened his sack, put them in, and walked away. After a few steps, he turned, pulled himself up straight, and with a clear voice that projected a sense of dignity, said, "Lady, I'd like to thank you for the cans." What I said was, "You're so welcome," but what I thought was, "My brother, I wish you well." Nancy Kirk Tharpe, Shreveport, La. The problem with `children TV

The article "A New Day Coming for Kids' TV - Maybe," March 19, says that shows like "The Jetsons" and "GI Joe" are not educational children's programming. Yet these programs are innocuous compared with so many nighttime programs. It's not only adults who are watching these shows. It's no wonder violence, murder, and sexual deviation seem to be so prevalent. Kids know that cartoons are imaginary, but these other shows represent what seems to be the norm in society. Frances B. Jones, Claymont, Del.

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