Readers respond to Cary Tennis' advice to the man whose girlfriend had an abortion without telling him.

Published January 9, 2003 8:41PM (EST)

[Read the column.]

I think you and your dinner party missed the boat on the "Guilty and Anguished" letter about the guy whose girlfriend had an abortion without his knowing about it.

The guy may have been trying to take responsibility for not using contraceptives with a woman who lives in a society where being sexually active is taboo and abortion is illegal. They were both responsible for that. In my experience, it is not generally the woman who insists on sex without protection. It's usually at the urging of the man -- an emotional and pretty unethical request by someone who is aroused of someone else who's also aroused at the height of arousal! That's adolescent behavior even if people make such requests of sex partners until they're 80.

By the way, what about his responsibility when he travels hundreds of miles to have a relationship (that includes sex) with a woman who lives in a society that he is clearly familiar with where she is literally putting her freedom and social status at risk?

Having sex put her in social peril in her family. Getting pregnant outside of marriage and getting an abortion put her freedom in peril and he doesn't know if he wants to marry her? He is guilty -- they both are and he's responsible because he was part of the decision to begin having sex and she had far more to lose than he did. By the way, if he doesn't marry her, who is going to in her community under the circumstances?

Maybe you didn't cook all the alcohol out of your wine-reduction sauce, 'cause you and those people missed on this one.

-- Claire Taylor

I just read your Jan. 6 column about the long-distance abortion guilt. While I agree with the first segment of the response, which was to feel involved and part of the situation but not responsible, I disagree with the second, which is to stay with her.

She was pregnant with his child. She didn't tell him. She decided on her own to have an abortion (this is where you lose me). She did it the week before he came into town. She lied to him about it for three weeks while he was there. She lied to him for months afterward. She blames him.

They're obviously young, and I forgive her the sins of youth. But they wouldn't even be here now if she had waited one week until he got into town to deal with the situation with him. She's young, but she's selfish and is unwilling to deal with things as a couple (blaming him for her abortion sucks).

He should dump her ass.

-- Rosemary B.

I think it's much more likely that poor "Guilty and Anguished" is simply being misled. No matter how backward the illegal clinic, the idea that a first-trimester fetus would be pulled out "intact" and then left on a table in front of its mother (even leaving aside the whole possibility of smiling or gasping, which is frankly incredible and can only be considered delusion) has a certain ring of the desperate lie about it.

Lots of girls don't know how to break up with their long-distance lovers. "It's not you; it's me" is a lot easier when you can make up an abortion to cover the "it's me" bit.

-- Tom Davidson

I haven't wanted to criticize, but your advice is weakened by your self-absorption.

Yes, all good advice has some personal tone/slant. It can add a feeling of trust for the readers to reveal your own experiences ... and sprinkling a column with first-person anecdotes can make for more lively reading.

But yours is just diluted with the self-absorbed tangents. Usually it's just an annoyance to have to skim over those sentences, but now I'm completely distracted wondering if you have a personality disorder of sorts. You've outdone yourself with the response to the guy who's tormented about his girlfriend's abortion. No one cares what you and your friends were eating for dinner when you discussed his problem.

-- Hilleary Plummer

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------