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The pro-lifers who appear in this week's cover story (see page 15) contend that women thinking about abortion are young, meek floaters. They are in their early 20s, and they have large chasms in their lives. An abortion won't fill that void, the pro-lifers say, but God can.

While this portrait fits nicely into the myth that abortion providers force their procedures on susceptible young women, the reality is much different. In the U.S., women who have abortions are surprisingly diverse. Consider the following from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health policy center:

More than one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45;

44 percent of women who get abortions are not in their 20s;

48 percent have had an abortion before;

78 percent report a religious affiliation;

61 percent of women who get abortions already have at least one child.

It would follow that, while some considering abortion are young, many are familiar with childbirth and know how an abortion would or would not fit into their lives. To ban the procedure, one pro-choicer says, would be un-American. This country was built on the notion of individual responsibility. Taking away choice would negate that for women.

Naomi Zeveloff

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