This letter is not to debunk Ms. Crotty’s statistics about abortions of African Americans in New York, or to try to change anyone’s mind about abortion ("40 Days for Life opens 20th campaign,” Feb, 3). No one likes abortion. It is a very serious decision with more than one way in which to view it. For example:

In the early 1980s, I was employed at Napa State Hospital in the Children’s Center as the school secretary. Many people were shocked to realize there were children at Napa State Hospital. There were five or six units in the Children’s Center, and I don’t remember what the exact population was at the time, so perhaps 200 give or take. Staff told me that this number was only one-tenth of one-percent of the total of children in California needing mental health interventions. The youngest at that time was five years old, the oldest 17. What I do remember are the children’s histories.

All the children housed there had emotional/mental problems of varying degrees, and most of them had suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse of the most egregious types. They had been abandoned – sometimes in strange towns or cities; they had been burned with cigarettes, on kitchen ranges, with steam irons; they had been beaten, strangled, starved, dropped from high places. They suffered abuse that normal people cannot even imagine – all at the hands of those who should have protected and nurtured them. It’s no wonder they grew up with emotional problems.

They will probably never recover to the point they can live ‘’normal’’ lives. No child should have gone through what they suffered. Abortions would have saved them living with such cruelty.

Today, there are children living – here in Napa – who are also suffering from poverty, abuse, abandonment and neglect. I would much prefer to see Right-to-Life protesters put their energy into helping those children rather than worrying about the unborn. We need to protect and nurture the children who are here now.

There are numerous organizations in Napa County that are dedicated to the welfare of children. They all welcome volunteers and financial support. Some of them are:

-- CASA Voice for Children (Advocates for children), 1804 Soscol Avenue, Suite 201, 257-2272;

-- Community Resources for Children, 5 Financial Plaza, Suite 224, 253-0376;

-- Cope Family Center, 707 Randolph St., 252-1123;

-- VOICES (Assists foster youth as they age out of the foster care system), 780 Lincoln Ave., 251-9432.

Other organizations directly benefiting children are:

-- Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley, 1515 Pueblo Ave., 255-8866;

-- Connolly Ranch, 3141 Browns Valley Road, 224-1894;

-- The Music Connection (provides musical instruments free of charge to any student in the NVUSD), 2425 Jefferson St., Room 105, 259-8565;

-- Napa County Library Foundation, 580 Coombs St., 253-4241;

-- Napa Valley Education Foundation, 2425 Jefferson St., Room 103, 253-3563.

I’m sure there are other organizations of which I’m not familiar; if there are, I hope representatives will come forward with contact information.

Lastly: Along with teachers, doctors and nurses, we are all reporters. If you know of any child or children who are living in abusive households or are at risk of bodily injury from anyone, please contact Child Protective Services, 2344 Old Sonoma Road, 253-4261.

Protect children who are living now.

Martha Wise