Sex with minors and ending pregnancy

Readers respond to articles about sex between teenage boys and older men, late-term abortion and the reduction in doctors trained to perform abortions.

By Salon Staff
Published July 26, 2002 7:00PM (EDT)

Read "Minor Report."

David Tuller's article misses the point entirely. I think that what's most important about sex between adults and adolescents is not whether or not the adolescent is able to non-traumatically integrate the experience, but how adults should act toward non-adults.

And the fact remains that even the possibility that someone's psyche, or many people's psyches, could be irrevocably damaged by having trusted adults use that trust to sate their fetishistic glee is enough to make the practice something that adults should not do.

Pointing to the historicity of such a prohibition is beside the point. Slavery was also acceptable in ancient Greece, but I imagine Tuller would be hard-pressed to find circumstances where the institutionalization of slavery would be healthy for our society. And what is his point? How could we change the law to reflect this off-handed cocktail philosophy? We have evolved into this standard of consent because it can be generally agreed upon that adults should not use their experience and positions of power to harvest sex from non-adults. What if Tuller found someone who was raped and enjoyed it or some articulate 8-year-old who could convincingly display volition?

I know that children and teenagers are sexual beings just like the rest of us. But I doubt very much that adults are the ones that should introduce them to sex, just as I cringe at the thought of parents doing drugs, vandalizing homes and skipping work to play hooky with their children. Not all contrarianism is wiser for having thumbed its nose at conventional wisdom.

-- Terry Sawyer

Thank you for publishing "Minor Report." It's a difficult and risky topic to write about, but Tuller's analyses are thoughtful and accurate -- and enlightening. I want to add my evidence to the discussion: As a gay teen of 15 and 16 (many years ago) I had several sexual encounters with older men (in their early 20s), and none of them was coercive or traumatic in any way. Yes, I felt some guilt and regret at the time, but I quickly got over that and eventually learned to accept my sexuality and enjoy it. I'm now a well-adjusted queer and have been in a romantic, satisfying relationship for almost 15 years. And, finally, I know a number of other gay men who tell a similar story.

-- Robert Funk

Read "Ignorance Is No Excuse."

Abortion is not like any other medical procedure. There are no groups dedicated to protesting any other medical procedure except those that take a life. The only medical procedures that are protested are abortion and euthanasia.

It is clear that the rhetoric of choice is a smoke screen for those who are really pro-abortion. If a woman has a right to choose, why not a medical student? The effort to make abortion training mandatory is discriminatory against those with pro-life beliefs. It is contrary to the ethics of choice. It seems that the pro-abortion crowd thinks that a woman's right to choose takes precedence over someone else's right to choose. This is pro-abortion, not pro-choice.

On the other hand, if it is morally acceptable to force someone to do something they don't want to do (e.g., study abortion), because you believe it is necessary (i.e., to have enough trained abortion providers), then it is morally acceptable for pro-lifers to do the same (i.e., force a woman to go through with her pregnancy against her will).

This whole issue simply provides more moral ammunition for pro-lifers.

-- Richard W.D. Ganton

Read "A Doctor's Right to Choose."

Reading through the article "A Doctor's Right to Choose," it was truly sickening to hear the author, Margaret Woodbury, talk about the gruesome abortion procedures and remark that she experienced no emotional response.

How one can write that she saw an intact fetus delivered, its skull punctured and brain matter removed, without an emotional response is beyond me. Further to say that this procedure was favorable to another procedure where the fetus is sucked out limb by limb is disgusting.

I have always been an avid reader of, but for the editor to publish such a horrific, tasteless article is truly disturbing.

-- Brendan Kenney

I'm sure Salon will get a lot of hate letters for these two stories. This isn't one of them. Thank you for keeping issues around abortion part of the public debate. And thank you for demystifying what happens in the operating room. I'm glad you have the courage to (write and) publish these pieces.

-- Amy Jenniges

Abortion is the one issue that makes me wonder if I'm really a liberal at all. How can I be a liberal and feel so repulsed by this story? I don't know. It feels like there's something fundamentally different between me and the writer of this story.

The only thing I can think of to compare it to is a common tradition in northern British Columbia among the trappers there. Instead of adopting out dogs that were not wanted, the accepted practice was to take the animal into the woods and tie it to a tree. And leave it.

My family and I enjoyed hiking nature trails, and several times in our travels came across the disturbing results of this practice -- although we never found a live dog. Normally they had been picked at by scavengers after dying of thirst.

The natives were used to this practice and argued that it would be too much trouble to adopt out the animals. No one seemed particularly disturbed by the tradition, and some even admitted to doing it themselves.

Honestly, I never looked at such folks the same way once they told me this. And I feel the same way about those who've had abortions. Maybe I'm a wuss, maybe I should defend the right of a woman to have her 5-month-old fetus chopped to pieces, but that's the not way I feel -- and nothing in this article came close to making me see things differently.

-- Aaron Butler

I just wanted to say thanks for this article, which describes both the necessity and the distressing reality of legal late-term abortion. I can't think of many major publications that would run a piece like this, but that is why I am a Salon reader and subscriber.

-- Elizabeth Durack

Salon Staff

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