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Although I don't view it as a litmus test for a presidential candidate, I believe the question of abortion is important because of the day and age in which we live. It is refreshing to hear someone interested in re-framing this complex question, and I would like to support your effort with my views. Right at the outset, I seem to come up with a double standard!

From my college days (I graduated in 1964), I have believed that it would be inexcusable for me to have an abortion. This is not so much a religious response as an ethical and pragmatic one. I have had the advantages of a stable upbringing and a college education. I have always had the ability to support myself and my daughter, both when I was married and when I was single. I had the means to procure birth control easily and did not have to go through picketers to do so. In other words, I had the freedom and means to take full responsibility for my reproductive choices.

I know there are millions of women in the world in much different circumstances. How can I possibly hold them to a standard I have set for myself, when I would most certainly fall short of that standard if I were in their shoes? I cannot imagine the heartbreak of having to give birth to an unplanned child, knowing that birth further jeopardizes my other children. For a woman grappling with such wrenching circumstances, abortion is an option which must be easily available.

Ironically, I could never be a presidential candidate in this day and age, being a non-theist with a Buddhist practice! My greatest concern is the future of the planet, with the future of my species running a close second. In an admittedly futile attempt to impact these concerns, I no longer eat meat, and have taken other efforts in my personal life to lessen my impact on the earth. I view the question of abortion as one of many issues involved in long-term sustainability of our only home. It is concerning that this question seems to get more consideration than that of providing for easily accessible birth control for all. The latter could certainly have an impact on the former.

I feel it is important to listen carefully to others who hold views different than my own. I would hope that someone with differing views could listen to mine, resisting the temptation to dismiss me because I lack a belief in a deity. Ultimately, we are more connected to each other than we are separate. We survive together or we pass from the scene together. I resist positions that attempt to polarize us by underestimating the complexities of the issues (such as abortion) facing us.

Thank you so very much for your excellent program, and for the very thoughtful approach you bring to each subject!