- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

Few barriers to abortion

Monday’s excellent Commentary column by Terry Eastland (“Abortion fandango”), discussing the extreme nature of the abortion right created by Roe v. Wade, itself stopped short of the mark. It is true that Roe made abortion legal for any reason before viability and for maternal health reasons after, but this description fails to note the court’s definition of “health.”

According to Doe v. Bolton, a decision issued the same day as Roe, “health” reasons for post-viability abortion include “physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age.” That is why it’s fair to say that there are no significant legal barriers to abortion during any stage of pregnancy in the United States. Most people, Republican and Democrat alike, think an unlimited right to abortion is wrong.


Director of planning and information

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops


Hospitals and the free market

The Op-Ed column “A health-care loophole” (Thursday), by Charles N. Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, was misleading at best and untrue at worst.

Leaving aside the obvious irony of the head of an association of for-profit hospitals criticizing the profit motive of specialty hospitals, and even looking beyond his slander of the medical profession in accusing specialty hospitals of “cherry picking” the most profitable patients, the fact is that Mr. Kahn does not give an even mildly accurate picture of specialty hospitals.

Mr. Kahn neglects to mention that the overwhelming majority of doctors at specialty hospitals have no ownership stake and nearly all of the few who do have such a stake own less than 6 percent. These facts are documented by the Government Accountability Office, so prominently featured in Mr. Kahn’s attack against competition and doctors.

His charge that there is no evidence of higher quality at specialty hospitals is also false. The Lewin Group, a well-respected health consulting firm, found significantly better quality at the specialty heart hospitals it studied.

The most troubling statement by Mr. Kahn is his claim to support “free-market-oriented health policy.” Free markets, the last time I checked, don’t include having the government shut down your competition because it is taking away market share or eating into your profits.

Full-service hospitals do face a number of challenges, some entirely of their own making — such as bizarre pricing practices that hit the poor and uninsured with the highest bills — and some foisted on them by government programs that shortchange hospitals. I suggest that Mr. Kahn focus on those problems rather than trying to shut down his competition.


Vice president, external affairs

Heartland Institute


Intelligence gathering and war

Though I defer to retired Gen. Robert H. Scales’ vast knowledge of the U.S. military, I must beg to differ with him about the main contention of his Op-Ed column “Human intel vs. technology” (Thursday).

Gen. Scales’ contention is that we are sacrificing human intelligence in favor of technology. I suggest that this is not an “either/or” proposition but an “and” proposition. In a true net-centric environment, all forms of intelligence are collected to shape a collective knowledge, or intelligence, database.

The column also points out that the actionable and most effective intelligence is gathered on the ground by our foot soldiers. Gen. Scales offers this insight in order to diminish the vast sums being allocated to technology by the Department of Defense.

I don’t see it that way. Though human intelligence at the ground level has proved to be woefully needed and essential in Iraq, in the overall intelligence mosaic, there can (and should) be more than one worthy form.

As for human intelligence, the real challenge is the expeditious gathering, collecting and sharing of that intelligence. Technology plays a vital role as a data source and a conduit for such intelligence handling and distribution.


Champlin, Minn.

Don’t forget Kosovo

James D. Zirin’s “What’s going on in Kosovo?” (Commentary, Sunday) is unique in that it relates to Kosovo — an area apparently no longer deemed newsworthy.

Unfortunately, the article’s uniqueness ended there. Mr. Zirin rehashed much of the sophistry that led to the attack on Yugoslavia and asserted that the Serbian minority in Kosovo is being protected from the Muslim Albanian majority by NATO forces. That’s a near-empty assertion because more than 130 Serbian Orthodox churches were destroyed and hundreds of Serbian civilians were murdered during last year’s “kristallnacht,” carried out by the Albanian Muslims, all since NATO has been providing “protection.”

As for the list of the four basic elements to a settlement to which “everyone” agrees: (1) protection of minority rights, (2) a guarantee Kosovo will not be partitioned, (3) a solution that does not include making Kosovo part of a Greater Albania and (4) independence from Belgrade’s rule — it’s more likely that “everyone” disagrees with one or more of the elements.

As for a clear exit strategy, the United States didn’t build Camp Bondsteel (and possibly others in the area) because it intends to leave soon.

That brings one back to the original question: What is going on in Kosovo? It’s time to learn why the United States became engaged and appears to be planning to retain a military presence in the Balkans.


Clarksburg, Md.

Chit-chat, teens and driving

I was not surprised when I read the article “Cell phones ‘age’ teen drivers to 70,” (Page 1, Thursday) because it is obvious to me whenever I am behind a driver (not just a teen) talking on a cell phone merely because of his or her delayed reactions.

According to this article, a study performed in 2003 concluded that motorists who talk on cell phones are “more impaired than drunken drivers.” If this is true, then, just as drivers are not permitted to drink and drive, they should not be permitted to use cell phones while driving.

Cell phones should be permitted in cars for the sole purpose of calling for help in emergencies. Chit-chat should be reserved for times outside the car.


Purcellville, Va.

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