29 JULY 1966, Page 12

The Abortion Bill SIR,—`Abortion is murder' is not an emotive

phrase. Whether it is true or not is a question of fact, not of emotion. And it would seem to be the duty of all those who believe it to be so—whatever their religious affiliation—to oppose measures that will spread its incidence, by all legal means, just as those who believe that apartheid involves a denial of human rights are prepared to do the same in that cause. It is difficult to assess whether the Bishop of Exeter's view that the foetus has less of a right to life than those already born is sensible, since he does not put forward any reasons to support his contention. (Sunday Times, May 29.) I agree with Mr Vaughan that my letter would have been considerably strengthened by the NOP findings. At last we have some more precise evidence of the numbers of illegal abortions and my figure of 10,000, though admittedly inaccurate, is a great deal closer than the usual claim of 100,000. I am still a little curious, however, because a mortality of twenty-four mothers (1964) from 30,000 operations gives a death rate of .08 per cent. In other words, the chances of surviving such an operation are nearly twice as high as those of a person on his twentieth birthday surviving to be twenty-one. (A49-52, assured lives.) Can someone explain?

I am writing to Mrs Chataway privately in con- nection with an open debate on this question. I will keep you informed.

QUENTIN DE LA BEDOYERE 3 Durrington Park Road, Wimbledon, London, SW20