Ira Glasser's description of abortion as a "fundamental right" {"Abortion: A Right Not Subject to a Vote," op-ed, Dec. 9} is not supported by an examination of the provenance of the easy access to abortion now available in the United States. To the contrary, the facts reveal this "right" to be little more than an intellectually clumsy contrivance of the Supreme Court and an astonishing display of judicial arrogance.

Writing for the majority in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), a case unrelated to abortion, Justice William O. Douglas understandably found he was unable to cite a generalized right to privacy in the Constitution itself. Undeterred, he went on to discover a "penumbra" (from the Latin paene umbra, meaning "almost a shadow") formed, he said, by unspecified "emanations" from the Bill of Rights. Justice Douglas then placed within this extra-constitutional near-shadow a hitherto unknown "zone of privacy," which was transformed into a "right of privacy" by the simple device of the court's substitution of the term "right" for "zone" in its later decisions.

How this mysterious trinity of privacy, penumbra and emanations had eluded legal scholars for the then 176 years of our constitutional history was (and is) a question left unaddressed by the court.

Nevertheless, by 1973, its own legal sleight of hand enabled the court in Roe v. Wade to cite a "line of decisions" that had established a generalized right to privacy and that had, without further explication, become "broad enough" to include a virtually unrestricted right to abortion.

I must add I find a curious inconsistency in Mr. Glasser's zeal for this matter. He claims his main concern to be the rights of minorities who are "vulnerable" and "powerless" yet ignores the issue in the abortion debate of the rights of that minority most unquestionably vulnerable and powerless, i.e., unborn children.