To the Editor:

In professor Gene Outka’s Religious Ethics course at Yale in 1976, I took the following position on the abortion issue Peter Johnston cites in his article (“Religious right critiques hope, destroys world” 2/29): Subconsciously, our culture cannot sustain a million and a half acts a year which, for want of a legal definition of when life begins, might be the taking of human life.

Our collective guilt will result in cultural paralysis. Roe v. Wade was three years old at the time.

I calculated that at 1,500,000 abortions a year, in three more years the total of legally performed abortions would exceed the total of fatalities in Germany’s World War II extermination centers; our culture’s subconscious guilt due to not knowing whether those 6,000,000+ abortions were or were not homicides would end in social warfare or paralysis. Thirty-one years have elapsed since then, and presumably at least 31,000,000 abortions have been performed. And Johnston’s article proves me wrong.

No collective guilt, no cultural paralysis prevails in the wake of our legal and societal ambiguities.

Paul D. Kean

Feb. 29

The writer earned a masters from the Yale School of Divinity in 1980.