In regard to his letter {Sept. 24} responding to William Raspberry's op-ed piece on abortion, Joe Gannon should be apprised of some basic facts.

First, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion did not overturn 200 years of our national history; at the time our country was founded, and until the latter part of the 19th century, abortion was not illegal or considered to be a crime under either statutory or common law and was therefore a matter left to individual decision. The first legal restriction of abortion in the United States occurred around 1830 and made only abortion after "quickening" (detectable fetal movement) a crime. General criminalization of abortion happened after the Civil War, coinciding with the spread of Victorian "morality" and its consequent restrictions on women.

Second, it is somewhat disingenuous to suppose that the Founders intended to include fetuses as "created equal" when they clearly did not intend to include females, blacks or even nonpropertied white males. Fortunately, our concept of equality has grown with time. But women can never achieve true equality if they can be forced to bear children against their will, at the dictate of the state. What meaning can individual liberty and equality have in the face of such a massive intrusion into a person's life? PATRICIA A. MARTIN Bethesda