- The Washington Times - Friday, July 11, 2003

Dr. William Bicknell and Kenneth Bloem’s column “Smallpox and bioterrorism” (Editorial page, Wednesday) did not discuss the one rational response to an attack (if you will be able to call policy responses to a smallpox attack on the United States rational) given the sad state of civilian preparedness to date: total quarantine.

Individuals will make rational decisions on their own to go home once the cat is out of the bag. Policy-makers will have few other choices; they will have to shut down people-to-people contact immediately because we have chosen not to vaccinate. It will be interesting trying to convince a by-then-panicked citizenry to go into a mass vaccination situation, potentially exposing themselves and their families to the disease that they may or may not have. The economic and social disruption will be massive, and we might not recover, which, of course, is just what the bad guys want.

Have you read Barbara W. Tuchman’s book “A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century”? It will give you an idea what life can get to, even today, if things get out of hand. Read the after-action follow-ups to the Dark Winter scenarios at the Johns Hopkins Web site. The quarantine will need to be much longer than most recognize, two to three weeks minimum beyond the last reported case, if you want to be safe.

At that point, who will trust anything the government says? How long is that? Several months, I should think. How many families can live out of their pantries for that long? Few.

I sense an extreme reluctance to discuss these issues in our country. If we brought up the subject in a careful and informative manner, I think most people would respond positively, certainly more positively than they will respond in a state of panic because of lack of information and preparation. Panic stems from lack of preparation and information; any good small-aircraft pilot in Alaska can tell you that.

George R. Humm

Eagle River, Alaska

Mexican invasion of the United States

The article “Mexican lawmaker sees voting in U.S.” (Page 1, Thursday) is one of the most eye-opening revelations I have read thus far regarding the Mexican invasion of the United States.

This article is especially revealing, as it specifies the number of Mexican nationals who have disgraced our immigration laws. (Manuel de la Cruz, the first U.S. citizen to win a seat in Mexico’s Congress, is quoted as saying, “There are 23 million Mexicans in the U.S. that need a voice in Mexico.”)

Our government has allowed a foreign army into our country that vows to politically control the policies of this country. Our government has turned against us. What a disgrace.


Nuevo, Calif.

The culture of death

Adrienne T. Washington never misses a chance to illogically attack pro-lifers. Her latest example is, “If only we cared as much about newborns and babies and toddlers and children in this country as we apparently do about unborn fetuses, maybe there would be fewer Baby Does discarded.” (“‘Safe havens’ provide alternatives to abandonment,” Metropolitan, Tuesday).

Mrs. Washington offers no evidence that pro-lifers have less respect for the born than they do for the pre-born. She can’t because pro-lifers work in defense of all life. Further, it does not make any sense that pro-lifers who defend the pre-born whom they don’t see and don’t know would have less respect for born babies.

An example of those who disrespect born life and kill pre-born life are Mrs. Washington’s idols at Planned Parenthood, which objects to telling women about the development of the baby and the medical and psychological risks of abortion because they want the revenue from killing women’s babies. How can that be translated into respect for born babies or for women?

Mrs. Washington is telling us that if there were more abortions — more killing, more harm done to women — there would be fewer “Baby Does discarded.” How can anyone be so cruel as to suggest we kill them before we see them to spare us the embarrassment and mental anguish of an abandoned baby?

Respect must be restored for all life — born and pre-born — and that would eliminate leaving babies in the woods to die. It would be incomprehensible to mothers who value all life.


Silver Spring

Debating funding for sex research

The lack of understanding and the intrusiveness into the scientific process by many Republican lawmakers is startling (“House Republicans balk at sex-research funding,” Thursday).

In the article, Rep. Patrick J. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, states, “The important work of [the National Institutes of Health] ought to focus, as it usually does, on finding cures for the innumerable devastating illnesses affecting Americans.” I couldn’t agree more, but his suggestion that sexual risk taking is not worthy of study is an unfortunate and misplaced sentiment from an unqualified layperson.

AIDS kills more than 16,000 Americans each year, while an additional 40,000 become infected with HIV. Cervical cancer, caused by the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, kills 5,000 American women each year. Fifty percent of all pregnancies are unintended, and half of those end in abortion. All of these conditions and many more are linked by a common factor: sexual risk taking.

A stated goal of one of the studies being attacked is “to gain an understanding of how mood and desire interact to compromise sound decision-making regarding sexual behavior.” To develop strategies to reduce the risks, we need to understand what causes the risks in the first place.

Mr. Toomey’s statement is a symptom of a larger problem — politicians interfering in the scientific process. Applications for research funding by the National Institutes of Health are peer reviewed and independently scored by expert scientists. This means that only proposals of the highest scientific merit receive support from federal funds. In fact, 70 percent of research applications fail to receive any NIH funding. The peer review process ensures that all proposals are approved solely on their scientific merit, with no outside influence from politics, businesses or lobbyists. When politicians intrude in this process, all research suffers.

Before coming to Congress, Mr. Toomey spent many years as a banker. I am quite certain he would not consider hiring a biologist to control his bank accounts and stock portfolio. Why then should bankers, lawyers and businesspeople control the nation’s pre-eminent scientific research body?

Let’s leave politics to the politicians, business to the businessmen and science to scientists.


President and CEO

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP)


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