- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

Different objects of worship, same demon

NARAL's high priestess, Kate Michelman, indignantly objects to the Family Research Council Kenneth L. Connor's likening of abortion to demon worship ("NARAL doesn't worship 'demon god,' " Letters, Thursday). Yet, NARAL's slavish devotion to abortion, in all its gruesome manifestations, is of the same spirit. Obviously hopefully NARAL's acolytes don't have an actual altar before which they worship Molech, the demon to whom ancient Ammonites sacrificed infants. But the results are the same; only the objects of their worship differ.
Mr. Connor's analogy is appropriate: The name "Molech" derives from a Hebrew word meaning "reigning one," and what reigns supreme for NARAL is unfettered entitlement to abortion. NARAL claims it wants abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare," but its advocacy betrays those words as mere lip service at the altar of convenience. Has NARAL ever objected to an abortion not just "in principle," but in any specific instance?
The extent of NARAL's coldheartedness is revealed in its refusal to countenance a ban on the horrific partial-birth abortion procedure. Even advocates of free speech which, unlike abortion, is a right explicitly granted by the Constitution accept limits on speech (such as yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater), but NARAL tolerates no limits on abortion. And with figures showing the overwhelming majority of abortions being carried out for convenience, NARAL's position is cold-hearted indeed.
NARAL attempts to justify its position by claiming concern for a woman's life, as its president Miss Michelman did in her letter. But respected medical authorities beg to differ. Six years ago, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, in a New York Times Op-Ed column, stated that "with all that modern medicine has to offer, partial-birth abortions are not needed to save the life of the mother." The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said it "could identify no circumstances under which this procedure …would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman" (Statement of Policy, Jan. 12, 1997). And the American Medical Association says partial-birth abortion is "never medically indicated."
Miss Michelman invited your readers to ask whose position qualifies as extreme: her and NARAL's or the Family Research Council's. Judging from the facts, it's clear that NARAL, like Molech, resides at the extreme.

SCOTT A. BYRD
Vienna

Provocateurs and professionals

Sue Cone questions the mission of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, or PCRM ("Provocateurs, not professionals," Letters, Jan. 27). I founded the organization in 1985, while practicing at New York's St. Vincent's Hospital. At the time, my colleagues and I were concerned about the abysmal failure of doctors to stress preventive measures. Most doctors seemed to ignore diet and lifestyle issues altogether. They simply waited for heart attacks, strokes or diabetes to arrive at the emergency-room door before taking any action.
Today, PCRM conducts clinical research trials in nutrition and publishes findings in peer-reviewed medical journals. Our research has supported the value of healthy, low-fat, vegetarian diets for weight loss, cholesterol control, diabetes management and other applications. Readers may have seen our diabetes research profiled in the Jan. 20 issue of Newsweek.
PCRM also advocates for higher standards in research and medical practice. For example, we recently exposed the little-known, dangerous practice of using high-dose estrogens to suppress growth in tall girls and have fought against the unethical overuse of growth hormone in short children. We also vigorously promote alternatives to animal research and have successfully encouraged the use of nonanimal teaching methods in medical schools throughout the United States and in many foreign countries.
We have 5,000 physician members, and have been proud to have medical pioneers, such as Drs. Benjamin Spock and Henry Heimlich, serve on our advisory board. Nonphysicians are welcome to join as supporting members. More information is available at www.pcrm.org.

DR. NEAL D. BARNARD
Washington

Messing up 'man's work' in the military

As an American working in Canada at the moment, I must respond to Thursday's editorial, "The Pentagon's PC brigade," which criticizes coed basic training in the military. Like the sources it criticizes, it fails to draw the appropriate conclusion: Namely, that if all of these charges are true, then a coed military, and not just coed basic training, is a failed experiment that should be ended.
The reason why the military pursues these policies and maintains the fiction of a fully effective coed force is because it has been ordered by its civilian superiors to institute these policies. The reason why feminists in and out of the military support these policies is because to acknowledge their shortcomings and contradictions would lead to broader questions about the merits and effectiveness of a coed military.
In other words, a real debate over the merits of coed basic training would inevitably become a debate over the merits of a major role for women in the armed forces.
Even on the political right, few are willing to tackle that issue directly, if only out of fear of appearing hostile to women. Moreover, many people now have a considerable investment in representing the "success" of the coed military and comparing (inaccurately) the integration of women into combat positions with the racial integration of the armed forces decades ago.
The fact that this issue continues to surface is because reality cannot be made to conform to political opinion or to arbitrary theory. Even if one were to accept the argument that men and women differ only anatomically, that fact alone has enormous consequences.
To this day, the men and women of the armed forces are held to different physical standards, even though the conditions under which they are expected to operate and the nature of the tasks they will be called upon to perform will be the same.
This is particularly relevant for a number of critical tasks that technology has not rendered easier: For example, damage control aboard ships, any form of ground combat, repair of equipment and the physical demands of air combat. Yet, the majority of recruits who go through coed basic training are not trained in the same way nor to the same degree of intensity as men were traditionally trained. If gender theorists praise this form of affirmative action, the clear hypocrisy of it is not lost on anyone else.
Simply ending coed basic training won't, however, eliminate the ongoing fraternization and sexual harassment problems, pregnancy rates that run at 10 percent to 15 percent among all female personnel (excluding officers), the need to buy special equipment and gear for women (for example, women fighter pilots cannot use the same pressure suits as their male counterparts due to the anatomical differences), and the need to modify the design of ships and aircraft to accommodate women.
Nor will it provide us with equally well-trained soldiers, just temporarily less distracted ones. The result is that our coed military is more expensive, less combat capable and less well-trained than would be an otherwise identically equipped but all-male force.
So far, none of this has mattered because, since Vietnam, we have only fought incompetent and noncompetitive enemies against whom our overwhelming technological and material superiority has made effective resistance largely impossible. Let's hope we never have to fight a real enemy again.

ANTHONY MIRVISH
Toronto

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