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October 14, 1974


JAMA. 1974;230(2):231. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240020021014

IT MIGHT be helpful if pregnancy grew from an immaculate desire, oriented mainly toward a child's good life. We know that this is far from the case. It has been estimated that 20% of US births are unwanted. I wouldn't presume to prescribe the circumstances under which a child ought to be conceived. The variables are such as to defy programming any computer.

No one discipline is equipped to tackle the problem of abortion. It touches on all of living. From a medical viewpoint, each case is best considered on its merits. However, the magnitude of the decision does call for some guides to judgment.

Historically, abortion has been fought over with such irrationality that anyone entering the arena is apt to feel the heat rather than see the light. The conflict stirs up the animals, to use one of William Bean's phrases. Yet, as President Truman had it, those