DEBORAH LEAVY (

op-ed, "When women are 'protected' to death," May 8

) is right.

My eyelashes don't flutter, and I don't pretend to faint when considering the medical procedure that she wants to keep legal. Actually, when I consider what happens during a partial-birth abortion I get sick to my stomach.

According to her, a pregnant woman suffers more mental distress at the thought of raising an unwanted child than she would after allowing a doctor to partially deliver her baby, pierce its head with scissors and vacuum out its brain. According to Leavy, "abortion may indeed be better for her mental health."

Abortion supporters condemn any restriction on abortion that doesn't include an exception to safeguard a woman's health. And they insist that the exception include the woman's mental health. But when the Congress and the Supreme Court limit abortion to safeguard the woman's mental health, as in this case, abortion defenders cry foul.

Protecting women, Leavy writes, "smacks of paternalistic ideas that belong in another century." I wonder if she includes protecting women against rape, abusive spouses, sexual harassment in the workplace and discrimination in education, employment and salaries.

Howard R. Lurie, King of Prussia