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April 11, 2011 at 5:01 PM

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Government shutdown affects Planned Parenthood, other social programs

Posted by Letters editor

Drawing the line

Editor, The Times:

As I watched the government shutdown loom, I was proud to be represented in Washington, D.C., by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. [“Shutdown threat: It’s about more than money,” page one, April 8.]

They, along with seven other democratic women senators, stood up to House Speaker John Boehner and the tea-party caucus in the House and drew an important line in the sand.

Title X Family Planning, the program the Republicans have all but said they are shutting the government down over, provides essential health care to women across the country, including family-planning services. It does not fund any abortion services.

Holding Planned Parenthood (and clinics like it) and its many services hostage tramples on the health and well-being of everyone (it provides wellness services for men, too!). It is particularly difficult for young and poor women, for whom Planned Parenthood and other family-planning clinics are often the only places they can turn to, to receive care when they do not have insurance.

For every dollar put into family planning, the taxpayer saves around $3 in health-care costs related to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. This is a budget no-brainer and the health and well-being of the men and women who use Planned Parenthood should absolutely not be used as a political pawn in the abortion wars.

By drawing this line in the sand, Murray and Cantwell are making a strong statement: The health and well-being of Washington’s citizens have no place in the political chess match over the budget.

Let’s have a real conversation about how best to deal with economic recovery, but let’s not allow Boehner and his House to stand on the necks of vulnerable men and women for cheap political gain.

— Kristin Anne Carideo, Seattle

History may repeat

I know that I will not quickly forget the Republican’s “2011 War on Women,” otherwise known as “The Budget Showdown.” A battle for .008 percent of the budget, the funding for Planned Parenthood is everything but a budget battle.

Over 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget goes to preventive health care for women in need, including cancer screening. These things point to Republicans turning back the clock on women’s rights. I will not forget.

— Barbara Matthews, Woodway

Here’s a suggestion

The federal budget deal reached on April 8 was “just in time” only in the sense of averting a federal shutdown.

In truth, the budget was due on Sept. 30, 2010.

A salary penalty of 1 percent for each day beyond the deadline might motivate members of Congress to get the job done on time. Financial penalties certainly work for the IRS when it comes to having tax returns filed on time!

— Paul Martin, Seattle

How to support the troops

I read the front page on The Times [Friday] morning, “Shutdown threat: It’s about more than money.” True — so many issues, so little time.

There is one issue, however, that looms demanding reaction from the American people and our government officials without hesitation or debate: the fact that our fighting military personnel, soldiers, air men and women, sailors, the whole lot of them and their families would stop being paid if the government shuts down!

Reports say our military’s death benefits would be stopped for the shutdown. Unbelievable.

This, coming from a government that sent these men and women (not to mention their families) into a war that was thought unnecessary by most, and unconscionable by many, is a travesty of the worst kind.

We, in the nonmilitary sector, should be marching in the streets. The men and women of the armed forces who are stationed out of harm’s way should lay down their weapons, tools and anything else that keeps in them in the employ of a government that plans to stop paying them, and walk off the bases. (I’d suggest the same for the men and women in the battlefields, but for their own safety, that isn’t advisable.)

The phrase “Support our troops” puts all of us in a position of having to quiet our adversity to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We didn’t want to do what we did to our Vietnam veterans.

As if criticizing the war, and the government that went into it, implied a lack of respect and concern for our people obliged to follow orders and offer their lives for “our freedom,” they were still suffering and dying for it.

Well, now we really can support or troops. By insisting that this ridiculous government cut its own wages, expense accounts and insurance coverage to make certain that every penny and every benefit due our military men and women is paid in full and on time regardless of the complete inability of our government officials to work together to take care of this country.

— Kris Welchman, Kirkland

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