- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 14, 2004

Abortion as an infant-mortality problem

Here’s some background to your coverage of the coming clashes over abortion (“Judiciary chairmanship looms as abortion issue,” Page 1, Nov. 6) that puts the issue in some international perspective.

The CIA’s World Factbook 2004 ranks the United States in the top 40 countries worldwide for infant mortality with 6.63 deaths per thousand live births. At the bottom of the list, Angola checks in at 192.5 deaths per thousand live births. The best country, Singapore, registers just 2.8 deaths per thousand live births.

The Factbook also notes that our birth rate is around 14.1 per thousand in the population. With a total population nearing 300 million, total live births are around 4.15 million annually. Thus our total infant mortality is about 27,000 each year.

Things change if we add lives lost to abortion to the equation. We abort around 1.3 million babies annually in the United States. Applying these deaths to the numbers above, our new infant mortality becomes around 243 deaths per thousand potential live births, which is more than 40 deaths worse than Angola.

It’s sobering to think that, in our quest for reproductive convenience, a fetus has a better chance of being born in the worst Third World country than it does in the United States.

PATRICK MCGINN

California, Md.

Fallujah: A phantom victory?

I disagree with The Washington Times editorial claiming that the “tactical edge” U.S. forces have over the insurgents in Fallujah will help minimize the loss of innocent life (“The Fallujah campaign, Editorial, Tuesday). The advantage of so-called smart bombs and aerial reconnaissance is likely to be steadily degraded as fighting goes door to door. That kind of warfare plays into the hands of Abu Musab Zarqawi and his fighters.

Fallujah is a free-fire zone whether the Pentagon is willing to admit it or not. In my view, bringing the “full weight of our military power to bear” on a city of 300,000 people in order to secure elections for the lucky survivors seems at best a dubious effort. Operation Phantom Fury would seem destined to deliver nothing more than a phantom victory.

MARK FEEHAN

Washington

Blue-state taxpayers

As The Washington Times reported Tuesday (“Blue states buzz over secession,” Page 1), MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell claimed that most of the red states that went to President Bush “are welfare-client states of the federal government [and] collect more from the government than they send in. New York and California, Connecticut — the states that are blue are all the states that are paying for the bulk of everything this government does, from … Social Security to everything else.” This is complete nonsense.

States don’t pay taxes; people pay taxes. There is little evidence that the people who pay the lion’s share of taxes in those states or any other states were big supporters of Sen. John Kerry. In contrast, Mr. Kerry’s support base in these and other states included a high percentage of government employee unions, people who receive much more in taxpayer funds than they pay.

If Mr. O’Donnell wants to lead a secessionist revolt of taxpaying blue states, he should first make sure that actual taxpayers in those states want to join him.

JAY BRINKMANN

Falls Church

Legal reform makes sense

Your article on the Bush administration’s legislative agenda (“Nevada’s Reid tells Bush to tread lightly,” Nation, Tuesday) contained statements by Sen. Harry Reid insinuating that efforts to reform America’s civil justice system would somehow prevent injured plaintiffs from “being made whole.”

The fact is, America’s legal system is in the midst of a crisis that is threatening American jobs, decreasing shareholder value and clogging our courts with frivolous lawsuits that do little more than enrich a select group of unscrupulous trial lawyers. Runaway medical-liability lawsuits have driven malpractice-insurancerates through the roof, driving doctors from their practices and closing trauma centers and emergencyroomsacross America.

Furthermore, a recent study shows that our country’s bloated liability system costs the average American family of four an extra $3,200 a year in higher prices, higher insurance rates and skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Legal reform in no way restricts access to the courts for those who feel they have been wronged. That is a fundamental right that should not be infringed upon. The common-sense legal reforms we propose would rid our legal system of frivolous and “get rich quick” lawsuits, streamline our courts, and ensure that plaintiffs and defendants receive fair trials.

Efforts to pass comprehensive legal reforms — class-action reform, asbestos-litigation reform and medical-liability reform — seek to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. Congress should act swiftly to pass these vital pieces of legislation that will restore balance to our courts.

LISA A. RICKARD

President

U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

Washington

Thank you, Mr. Ashcroft

I want to take the opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Attorney General John Ashcroft for his leadership and commitment on behalf of America’s children (“John Ashcroft’s legacy at Justice,” Editorial, Thursday). In the past four years, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) have built a strong, committed partnership to protect children and have worked tirelessly in many ways.

The attorney general made a national priority of the program America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, commonly called the AMBER Plan, and designated Assistant Attorney General Deborah Daniels to develop, enhance and coordinate AMBER systems. Today, there are now 99 plans, 49 of them statewide, with 172 children saved as a direct result of AMBER Alerts.

Computer-facilitated crimes against children have proliferated with advances in technology. Reports of child sexual exploitation to NCMEC’s CyberTipline have increased 750 percent over the past six years. The attorney general recognized this threat early on, leading to increased funding for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program, which has grown from 20 task forces in 2000 to 45 today.

The Justice Department under Mr. Ashcroft has also been concerned about the nation’s hidden victims. The department joined with NCMEC to attack the problem of child prostitution. We launched new law-enforcement training at NCMEC and at regional locations nationwide. The result? New intergovernmental and multijurisdictional collaboration and far greater attention to this difficult problem.

There is much more. Thanks to our remarkable partnership, children are being rescued every day, child pornography rings are being dismantled and predators are being prosecuted and brought to justice. There is unprecedented cooperation and an unswerving commitment to children by the Department of Justice. We have made real progress under the leadership of Mr. Ashcroft. We are deeply grateful.

ERNIE ALLEN

President and CEO

National Center for Missing

& Exploited Children

Alexandria

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