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Originally published Monday, December 3, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Online-only letters Meaning of life Editor, The Times: How many times must we argue and reargue the legality of abortion? "Legal rights for fertilized...

Chicken or the egg

Meaning of life

Editor, The Times:

How many times must we argue and reargue the legality of abortion? "Legal rights for fertilized eggs?" [Times, News, Nov. 18] reports that Colorado is planning to vote on an amendment to its constitution providing human rights to fertilized eggs. The story notes that five other states are contemplating the same nonsense.

Have the religious zealots no shame? Do they not recognize the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision? Can they not recognize that many of us do not accept their religious mythology?

An anti-abortion lawyer, Dale Schowengerdt, states: "It's an important debate that people ought to have." Haven't we had this debate often enough already? Polls show the majority of Americans accept Roe vs. Wade and reject putting religious dogma into our laws.

Today, as they have been for centuries, religious conflicts are the greatest source of conflict and misery throughout the world. Now our nation is in a costly and vicious war against religious Taliban fanatics. Do the overrighteous Christians think we want their tyranny any more than we do the Taliban's?

The more the holy folks push and refuse to show tolerance, the more distasteful is their cause.

Please, you righteous souls: You live your way; I'll live mine. We nonbelievers long to be free of all religions.

— Spencer Higley, Edmonds

Stop the baby talk

Regarding "Disappointing decision over Plan B drugs" [editorial, Nov. 16]: Judge Ronald Leighton's cowardly injunction against the new state rules granting unfettered access to Plan B is the perfect wedge for anti-choice zealots to further erode privacy rights, access to safe and legal health care, and further stigmatize and denigrate women.

Pharmacists are hired not to dispense personal opinions or moral advice. They are supposed to fulfill prescriptions — safely, accurately and in a timely manner. And if being required to supply Plan B constitutes a violation of conscience, you'll soon see drugs that fight AIDS, Tay-Sachs disease or sickle-cell anemia follow the same fate, all under the guise of "conscience." Health and safety become irrelevant

Right-wing forces propagated the lie that Plan B induces an abortion. Fact: It does not; it prevents pregnancy if taken in time. If anti-choicers want to prevent abortion, they should take Sex Ed 101 and learn what stages are involved in fetal development. Then they would realize that the best way to prevent an abortion is to prevent the unplanned pregnancy in the first place. This is precisely what Plan B does. They need more light and less heat.

— Scott Leopold, Auburn

Kid me not

Regarding "Rossi backs druggists' choice on Plan B" [Local News, Nov. 16]: Pastor Joe Fuiten, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi and others assert that asking licensed pharmacists to fully comply with the terms of the pact they made with the people of the state of Washington is somehow unfair; moral or religious persecution I believe is their concern.

It seems to me that if people don't want to dispense legally prescribed medications, maybe they should not become a pharmacist. However, it leads me to wonder: Why just pharmacists?

If Pastor Fuiten's church catches on fire, can the responding firefighters refuse to fight the fire if they have moral or religious objections to his teachings? If one believes all laws come from God, can police officers refuse to enforce municipal laws they object to? Where does it stop?

If I happen to find myself in need of emergency medical treatment, the last thing I want to worry about is whether the nurse or physician is going to deny me care simply because doing so might conflict with some peculiar set of personal beliefs.

— Greg Anderson, Seattle

Brave new world

Vote bona fide

In "Should we download democracy?" [syndicated column, Nov. 19], Jonah Goldberg has gone beyond his usual writing, with which I merely disagree, on to the realm of the truly offensive.

Now, according to Goldberg, activists who try to increase the number of Americans who participate in the democratic process and vote are "get-out-the-vote fetishists." That would imply that getting out the vote is somehow perverse and abnormal.

Goldberg bemoans the voting qualifications of "the undecideds" and "the kingmakers" because they don't pay attention. And he tellingly asks: "What would be so bad about discrimination, properly understood?"

I'll tell you what would be so bad about that, Mr. Goldberg. It would go against everything this nation stands for. We have worked and fought for hundreds of years to ensure liberty and equal rights for all Americans — not just the ones you think are properly qualified to vote.

In the brave new world you posit, who would decide who gets to vote and who doesn't?

— Doug Mitchell, Lake Forest Park

Come clean

Regarding "They run, we pay: good deal" [Local News, Nov. 16]: By the recommendation of The Times' columnist Nicole Brodeur, I attended the recent forum sponsored by Washington Public Campaigns, WashClean.org, to learn more about how election-campaign reform and public funding might save us from the imbalanced influence of big money in politics.

It was an outstandingly informative experience worthy of coverage by The Times, more worthy of consideration than much of the usual content. It was noted how every successful local candidate for office in our past election won the seat with by far the most campaign contributions.

So where is the news coverage of this well-attended forum? The Times has this rich opportunity to explore but studiously ignores it.

I wonder what difference media consolidation will make in this town.

— Joel Tufel, Seattle

Back in the USSR

Regarding "Cracks in Iraq: Liberal with the mortar" [Northwest Voices, Nov. 16]: Reader Gene Davis is right about one thing — everywhere Muslims live in poverty, there are always extremists ready to help impressionable, hungry young people become terrorists in order to attack our troops or our citizens.

But how do we expect them to achieve democracy when the example we show them — us — is a nation allowing its freedoms to be steadily eroded away, while government by corporation takes hold?

The things Davis brought up in the first paragraph — phone records (and that's not all they're doing), suspending habeas corpus on enemy combatants (which means anyone the president says is an enemy combatant, including Davis) and the deregulation of media consolidation by the Federal Communications Commission — all of these things should horrify any citizen of a democracy.

If the government officials can tap any phone or open mail, or search our homes whenever they want without a warrant, we have no privacy. If, by virtue of stating our opposition to the war, the government decides to declare you or me an enemy combatant, we can find ourselves locked up for years without trial, our constitutional rights suspended and the media — thanks to deregulation and currying favor with the administration — telling the world that if we've been locked up, we must have done something wrong.

In other words, living in the USSR.

I prefer America.

— Sten Ryason, Seattle

Health of the nation

Applaud, not criticize

Syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson attacks Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's gratitude to American health care for curing him of prostate cancer, but he plays fast and loose with the facts ["U.S. health care: Pay more, die sooner," syndicated column, Nov. 13].

Giuliani observes that the U.S has higher prostate-cancer survival rates than England. Robinson can revise this to "about the same" only because more American men receive preventive screening for prostate cancer than Englishmen do, so his rate has a bigger denominator as well as a bigger numerator.

Of course, this implies that superior U.S. preventive care results in "unnecessary" diagnosis — a "problem" many Englishmen would like to have. According to the Lancet Oncology journal, America leads the world in survival rates for the four most common types of cancer, including prostate.

Indeed, The Washington Post fact check claiming Giuliani is "out of date" reports five-year prostate-cancer survival rates of 98 percent in the U.S. versus 74 percent in England!

At least Robinson, like Giuliani, is grateful he has health insurance when other Americans do not. Giuliani will end the discrimination that forces Americans to get health insurance either from our employer or the government, instead allowing us the same individual choice we claim as a birthright in other areas of our lives.

Robinson should applaud this reform, which will reduce the number of uninsured.

— John Graham, Pacific Research Institute, Health Care Studies, director, San Francisco, Calif.

Care for all

The United States' health-care system is a mess, but syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson's piece did not get to the real problems.

While it is true that the U.S. pays more per capita for health care yet has a lower life expectancy than any of the other countries surveyed, this has nothing to do with the quality of care. The U.S. has the most advanced equipment and cutting-edge medical research in the world; our problem is we don't distribute resources appropriately.

According to the Mayo Clinic, 30 to 40 percent of health-care costs are for intensive-care medicine stays; much of this is end-of-life care. Just improving end-of-life care could cut costs enough to provide better care for younger patients.

There is no reason the U.S. needs a single-payer system. A single-payer system might raise the life expectancy and improve the average level of care, but it can only accomplish this by getting rid of the most cutting-edge medical care.

America needs a system that will improve care for all, without sacrificing the current high level of care.

— Tim Fields, Seattle

Civil disobedience

Fun for old soldier

The protesters in Olympia are, to this old soldier, taking the right of free speech too far ["Tension in Olympia as war protests escalate," Local News, Nov. 15].

Those of us who ever wore the uniform of our country fought so that our citizens maintain that right. The free speech we fought to maintain gives citizens the right to stand on the sidewalk and shout slogans, wave signs, etc.; but when they chain themselves together, lie down in the street and block traffic, that is neither free speech nor a peaceful demonstration as they claim but civil disobedience! The police have every right when the protesters do not follow orders to disperse to use whatever force is required to remove them!

The parents of these protesters probably were in the group that shouted "baby killers" and spat in my face when I returned from my two tours in Vietnam. The protesters of this new generation probably have grown up believing, as their parents did, that whatever they do is free speech and their rights prevail over law enforcement! They sure need some education on the subject.

Sometimes I think it is unfortunate that we do not have the draft. I just chuckle thinking of what an old-time drill sergeant would say and do if a bunch of these bearded, pierced punks stepped off a bus at boot camp. A scene like that would really make the day for this old soldier.

— John Moe, Federal Way

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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