Dear Editor:

In your Times-Journal/Mirror-Democrat Letters column of June 19-20, Ruth DeMuth makes a heartfelt cry against Illinois' new Reproductive Health Act. Unfortunately, she confuses the moral question she poses by mis-identifying the very thing she wishes to protect.

Generally, we think of a child as a person between birth and puberty, a standard dictionary definition. It only confuses things to talk about an "unborn child" which is properly called a fetus or, in the first eight weeks after conception, an embryo.

There is a religious view that every fertilized egg or zygote is a divinely created individual with a right to life. However, most of us don't share that opinion, or we wouldn't use IUD's or morning-after pills which prevent the zygote, or more precisely the cluster of cells the zygote has become, from implanting in the uterus and continuing to develop. We don't see this as "murder in the womb."

No one questions a new person is present when a baby is born, a child who needs support, protection, education and everything society can provide to assure she will live fully and contribute positively. So, somewhere between the moment of conception and the moment of birth this zygote or embryo or fetus gains a right to life.

Ms. DeMuth apparently believes this happens at conception. The majority of the Iowa legislature seems to think it's when a fetal heartbeat can be detected (about six weeks, so properly an embryonic heartbeat).

Personally, I agree with the Supreme Court which said back in 1973 that right does not begin until the fetus is viable and can live, albeit with a great deal of help, outside its mother's body (about six months along).

These are philosophical or religious opinions. Those who hold more restrictive views should refrain from terminating pregnancies when they think a person with rights is present.

Still, I would like to see them show as much concern for the protection and care of the children who have been born as they shower on the unborn. And I would hope they agree that no girl or woman should ever be forced to have a baby against her will.

John F. Gloor

Savanna