Sen. John F. Kerry's abortion stances are illogical.

Mr. Kerry is against parental-notification laws, and in the debate Friday he cited the instance of a child being impregnated by her father as one in which he wouldn't want the parents to be notified.

But shouldn't the authorities be notified in any case if a parent rapes a child? How will destroying the pregnancy improve the child's situation?

Children can't get their teeth cleaned without parental approval; why should they be able to get an abortion without it?

NEIL SIMPSON

Tomball, Tex.

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I was shocked to hear President Bush say during the second debate, when referring to the Dred Scott decision, that slavery wasn't legal under the Constitution.

That's as absurd as Jerry Ford's remark that Poland was free of Soviet domination in 1976.

Slavery was built into the Constitution and wasn't abolished nationwide until after the Civil War. The Dred Scott ruling came down in 1857 -- four years before the Civil War started.

The ruling addressed whether a slave who had lived for a time in a free state was a slave again after going back to the South. The legality of slavery itself was not the question.

PEG HAUSMAN

Vienna

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John F. Harris's Oct. 9 front-page article, "Parity in Style, Contrast in Substance," should have been titled "Contrast in Style and Substance." My recollection of the debate was of one man speaking confidently and plainly, the other appearing uneasy at times and at a loss for words.

But it's not surprising that the article didn't note the stark difference in the candidates' mannerisms, since it incorrectly cited the content of the questions.

The article said, "In an answer about stem cell research and whether it involved taking a life, Kerry talked more personally about his Roman Catholic faith, mentioning his youth as an altar boy, than he typically does in public."

But the question wasn't about whether stem cell research involved the taking of a life; the question asked of Mr. Kerry was why we would need to pursue the use of embryonic stem cells when scientists are having success with adult stem cells.

Similarly, Mr. Kerry had difficulty answering the question posed to him about tax dollars being used to support abortions. Instead of answering the question directly, he said he has personal beliefs about abortion but wouldn't want to impose them on others. Does this mean he's willing to impose abortion on those of us who disagree with it by using our tax dollars to support it?

I bet Mr. Kerry will never answer that question.

JANICE L. SCHELL

Purcellville, Va.