I agree with S. Michael Melia that “A woman has absolutely no right to kill her child,” but I disagree with Mr. Melia as to the definition of child.

Merriam Webster enters its definitions in order of usage. Its first entry is “a young person, especially between infancy and puberty.” It is not until Webster’s third definition that one sees “an unborn or recently born person.” This is probably because most people using the word “child” are not thinking of conception, embryo or fetus, but of something that has been born.

Mr. Melia also says that, “the term ‘fetus’ is Latin for ‘baby!’” This is not true. It means “hatching of young.” Latin for “baby” is “infans” or “parvulus.”

I spend so much time defining “child” and “baby” to emphasize that just as it is difficult to decide the proper meaning, it is also difficult to determine when life begins — zygote, embryo, fetus, newborn? Neither scientists nor religious scholars have been able to reach a consensus as to when life begins.

Some believe life begins when there is a zygote, while many believe not until a baby can viably live outside the womb. Many who believe life begins when the being is a zygote think they have the right to force that belief on others and thus outlaw abortions. The First Amendment establishes the separation of church and state. Therefore, one person’s religious belief of when life begins cannot supersede the belief of another person.

Likewise, Mr. Melia’s belief that “sexual activity outside of a husband-wife marital relationship is wrong, evil and perverted” is just that — his belief. His belief should not be able to supersede the beliefs of others. The First Amendment should guarantee that Roe v. Wade should not be reversed, and women – and only women – have the right to decide what to do with their body and what goes on inside of it.

Finally, we are not Afghanistan, with its Taliban, where extreme interpretation of Islam tells women what they can do with their bodies.

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