- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Columnist shouldn't try to downplay child labor

Bruce Bartlett's March 29 column "Child labor posturing" (Commentary) ignored the facts … as well as logic.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old working worldwide almost half working full time. And we don't mean carrying out the trash or walking the dog. Rather, this 250 million includes adolescents working in rock quarries, gold mines, fireworks factories and brothels.

Last June, the 174 member-countries of the ILO adopted Convention 182 on the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor. With overwhelming bipartisan support, the Senate in near-record time approved it for ratification. Likewise, it was this broad bipartisanship that approved the administration's budget request for a tenfold increase for our contribution to the ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor.

These projects have four common elements: remove children from abusive work situations; provide them with education and rehabilitation services; set up independent monitors to help prevent recycling them back into work; and provide their parents with income-generating alternatives to child labor, such as low-cost business start-up loans.

Congress has also directed the Labor Department to study the nature and extent of international child labor. In our fifth report to Congress, we presented the following conclusion: "Today, numerous international organizations, governments in developing and industrialized countries, and nongovernmental actors are developing and implementing strategies and initiatives to eliminate child labor."

The elimination of abusive child labor is a critical human-rights issue. We believe it is also good economic policy. We are hardly alone in that position.

ALEXIS M. HERMAN

Secretary of Labor

Washington

Gov. Jeb Bush's "One Florida" plan is still too race-conscious

The Washington Times has recently published different perspectives on Gov. Jeb Bush's "One Florida" initiative, but the most accurate and perceptive to date was Michelle Malkin's analysis ("One Florida Program a Racial-Preference Policy in Disguise," Commentary, March 31).

Ms. Malkin peels back the onion of "One Florida," and while we find some praiseworthy components in the program, other parts simply stink. Not being able to live up to its own high billing, "One Florida" still singles out minorities for special consideration in some cases. By his own admission, Gov. Bush's plan is not race-neutral.

He and I agree that race should not be a factor in college admissions. To the governor's credit, he has ordered an end to this practice. At the same time, however, Mr. Bush is promoting a plan guaranteeing college admission to the top 20 percent of each high school's graduating class, in part because it would generate a certain racial mix in entering college classes. In other words, the governor thinks that, as he put it, some "race consciousness is appropriate." Anyone who tries to reconcile these two competing philosophies needs to revisit the Bush plan, Ms. Malkin's analysis and the subsequent events in Tallahassee since "One Florida" was rolled out.

WARD CONNERLY

Chairman

American Civil Rights Institute

Sacramento, Calif.

Media critics shouldn't be quite so ready to condemn police officers

Bravo to Fred Reed for his accurate column portraying the impossible tasks a police officer faces daily trying to do his job, even though no one seems to care or endeavors to back him up ("Simple advice for police: Just stay politically correct," Metropolitan, April 10).

Unfortunately, just as long as the hierarchy can boast it is politically correct, that is all that seems to matter. I was a tough police official, but I always backed my officers until it was positively proved to me to do otherwise. Why are current law-enforcement officials and the media so ready to condemn police officers? Perhaps with a cursory, intelligent investigation it could be proved that the officer or officers were found to be doing their job according to the book.

Do we want to have our police officers hiding in some alley because they will not get involved in any incident that their chief will not consider politically correct? Let's give our dedicated police officers the benefit of any doubt. Our police officers at least deserve that.

GARRETT T. KIRWIN JR.

Silver Spring

Garrett T. Kirwin Jr. is a retired police chief.

Democrats should stop promoting contraception and support abstinence

In "Partial birth abortion revisited," (Commentary, April 16) Jim Nicholson, chairman of the Republican National Committee, asked Joe Andrew, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, "Will Al Gore continue the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion?" He predicted that Mr. Andrew would not answer the question.

Indeed, Mr. Andrew did not even come close to answering the question, undoubtedly because a new poll shows that opposition to partial-birth abortion continues to grow 68 percent now oppose it, and less than 20 percent support it. Instead, he promoted the discredited idea that contraceptives will prevent pregnancies: "If contraceptives were a part of basic health care, families could avoid unintended pregnancy, thus reducing the need for abortion."

Most abortions are performed on single women, not women in stable families, and out-of-wedlock births have skyrocketed since contraceptive use became widespread. According to Jatrice Martel Gaiter, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington Inc., the rate of out-of-wedlock births in the District of Columbia is 67 percent. Many of these single mothers and their children will at some time burden society. This is one of the Democratic Party legacies.

Contraceptives and abortion are functionally different preventing conception vs. killing a baby. But from a user's perspective they both have an identical purpose to prevent the birth of a baby. Below are a few examples of this relationship as expressed by associates of Planned Parenthood, the world's largest promoter of contraceptives.

• The former medical director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) said in 1970, "Abortion and contraception are inextricably intertwined in their use. As the idea of family planning spreads through a community there appears to be a rise in the incidence of induced abortion at the point where the community begins to initiate the use of contraceptives."

• In a 1986 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Planned Parenthood official Louise Tyrer herself warned of the risks of relying on certain methods of contraception. Teens, she said, tend to get an over-the-counter barrier-type contraceptive at the drugstore but, when used alone, the sponge, the condom or a foam guarantees users that "at least once in every three years theyre going to end up with an unplanned pregnancy" (even the diaphragm has a first-year failure rate of 19 percent).

• The Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, reported in January 1998 that 58 percent of the women who had abortions were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Contraceptive use leads to increased use of the medically risky abortion procedure, which people out to prevent birth see as the "ultimate contraceptive."

Like drug pushing, contraceptives are harmful to teens, families and society in general. It is abstinence that should be promoted because it has been demonstrated that teens respond very well to an abstinence message. Best Friends is an abstinence program in which girls are encouraged to avoid drugs, alcohol, violent behavior and premarital sex. Twelve years of national statistics are impressive; 97 percent have not had sex, and 96 percent have not used illegal drugs. The pregnancy rate (not the birth rate) is 0.3 percent.

Mr. Andrew should stop pushing contraceptives and promote abstinence; it works.

CAROLYN NAUGHTON

Silver Spring

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