* In his comments on partial-birth abortions ("Why Stop at the Third Trimester?" Commentary, Nov. 10), Graham Walker minimizes the distinction between a fetus ready to be born and a child already born. He claims "the public will never be persuaded that the fetus changes fundamentally between the moment when the first foot appears and the moment when the last bit of head pops through."
Walker is quite wrong! There is a very fundamental, spiritual change during that process. Before birth, the fetus is merely a potential human without a soul. The soul enters the body with the first breath of air-- with the "breath of life." After birth, the baby is a complete human, with a soul.
Of course, this reflects the philosophy of my own religion and does not represent the beliefs of all religions. However, the belief that the soul enters the body at conception also does not represent the beliefs of all religions. Because of these differences in religious beliefs, freedom of religion requires that our civil government does not impose one religion's dogma about abortion on followers of other religions.
Yes, Mr. Walker, my religion does say that personhood is delayed until birth is complete. And the disrespect you exhibited in your commentary for that belief is an insult to several million Americans who are members of my religion. What religion do I practice? That is not relevant. It is merely an old and highly developed religion that we hold dearly. We do not require you to accept our beliefs, but we do require that you at least allow us to act in accord with those beliefs.