- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2004

People vs. property

I am writing concerning the column titled “Bills would push abortion back into shadows” (Metropolitan, Friday) by Adrienne Washington. It profoundly saddens me that in a country that has achieved so much in the realm of civil rights, human beings are still treated like property instead of people. What the phrase “terminate a pregnancy” obscures is that every person, from the moment of conception, is a genetically unique individual and therefore biologically distinct from the mother. This is why the abortion debate has nothing to do with religious extremism, but deals with pure and simple scientific fact.

Scientific fact also debunks the argument that a baby does not deserve the status of personhood if she or he cannot survive outside of the mother. If this is so, every person quarantined in a hospital or connected to feeding tubes (as the baby is connected to the mother for feeding and nourishment) would be an open target for murder.

Clearly, more needs to be done to serve the needs of mothers faced with crisis pregnancies. What we as a society must do, however, is bend over backward to provide these women with the spiritual, emotional and material support they need, not attempt to solve one difficulty by creating a larger problem. This is true even in the case of rape and incest, for as detestable as those crimes are, to punish a child for wrongs she or he did not commit only undermines the principle of equal justice under the law.

Many years ago, this country ended the terrible scourge of human bondage, and it has made significant progress in the past generation or so in ensuring that every American has a cherished place in our society. Rather than advocating murder as a quick fix to our social problems, let us move forward by demonstrating the genuine human compassion that has made America a light unto nations the world over.



The case for statehood for Puerto Rico

“Puerto Rico pays more than states to lobby in D.C.” (Nation, Tuesday) provided a macabre coda to the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

If the 3.9 million American citizens of Puerto Rico enjoyed civil rights equality with residents of the 50 states, there would be no need to spend so much on lobbying in the nation’s capital. Why? Because, if we were treated as equals, the residents of Puerto Rico would be defended in Washington by half a dozen representatives, two senators and a couple hundred congressional staffers. In addition, we would get a lot more White House attention if eight electoral college votes were at stake in Puerto Rico every four years.

By the same token, if we possessed our full civil rights, we would be “free at last” from groups of individuals committed to the archaic proposition that all American citizens are not created equal. The very existence of a National Stop Puerto Rico Statehood Committee is an affront to the bedrock 21st-century principle of inclusiveness that is ostensibly embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike.

In summary, to object to pro-statehood lobbying by Puerto Ricans is akin to branding King an “agitator” for peacefully demanding voting rights for blacks.


Minority leader

Puerto Rico State Senate

Cidra, Puerto Rico

No. 1 in New Hampshire?

There’s an adage that describes the new tactics the Democratic presidential hopefuls took after Iowa (“No fireworks in final N.H. debate,” Page 1, Friday). In what was billed as a debate Thursday, the Democrats still in the race for the Oval Office reversed course and concentrated their fire on President Bush while avoiding attacks on each other. With political pundits agreeing that voters are still split 50-50 between the Republicans and the Democrats as in 2000, each of the viable contenders wasted the evening trying to persuade voters who already believed what he was saying against Mr. Bush.

For John Kerry, Howard Dean, John Edwards or Joe Lieberman to defeat Mr. Bush next November, one of them is going to have to limit his Bush-bashing and concentrate on converting new voters, defining just how he plans to better lead the nation — in other words, stop “preaching to the choir.”


La Quinta, Calif.

Health-care checkup

The current debate falls short of addressing the dire circumstances surrounding the more than 43 million individuals who are uninsured and the millions more who are underinsured (“Bush fires first with health care proposals,” Page 1, Thursday).

Being uninsured is not an inconvenience; it is a formidable barrier to obtaining necessary medical care. This ominous reality requires broader action than tax credits and small-business subsidies.

The time to act is now. While federal legislators have been paralyzed by partisan differences, state-run health insurance systems are collapsing. From Texas to Massachusetts, state lawmakers across the country are raising the eligibility requirements and curtailing the benefits of programs helping to ensure that all children have access to quality health care. Considering that health care providers also are suffering from inadequate reimbursement rates while the demand for services grows, one begins to see a very bleak portrait emerging.

Quite simply, more leadership is needed on the national level.


President and chief executive officer

Catholic Health Association of the United States

St. Louis

The state of the union is strong

As I read the three letters from readers responding to the recent State of the Union address (“And the state of the union is …?” Wednesday), I wondered if those people had heard a different address, over in an alternative reality.

First, someone from fashionable Palm Springs, Calif., is having an issue with the rising cost of health care coverage that affects us all … as if this started in 2000. These rates would be going up even if we didn’t get our $300 checks. So I’ll take the refund check, thank you very much, and see it as a credit against the premium I have to pay. Then, we have someone complaining that his daughter is in a low tax bracket, almost seeming to suggest that Mr. Bush raised taxes instead of lowering them. Speaking strictly for myself, I’ll save my sympathy for the true working poor who work a minimum-wage job (or sometimes two) that offers no benefits.

The president has taken enormous political risks with his bold response to the terrorist threat and has made common-sense efforts (that are slowly paying off) to revive the post-bubble economy of the late ‘90s and 2000. He has spent political capital by putting a plan on the table to deal with illegal immigration that, of course, pleases no one on the extremes but at least is a start — while everyone else just talks about it. When I hear various political and media elites doling out self-righteous proclamations that the president is disengaged, ineffective or deceitful, I just have to laugh, just as I do at some of the savagely demented beliefs of a small segment of the general population. (The Iraq war was all for the benefit of Halliburton, etc.) It’s obviously ill-informed hogwash, but I suppose it’s comic relief.

Anyway, what I heard was a cogent and compelling speech that offers a vision I like and for which I will vote later this year.



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