On birth control, politics over facts | Dec. 10, editorial
Parents' right to know is the issue
This editorial states that the Obama administration chose politics over science when it rejected the Food and Drug Administration's decision to make emergency contraception pills available over the counter to all females, including adolescent girls under the age of 17.
Since when does science have anything to do with parental rights? As the editorial states, we're talking about girls as young as 11 being able to buy these drugs, better known as morning-after pills, without a prescription and without the consent of a parent or guardian.
This is not about science. It is about a parent's right to know. If the minor is seeking these pills because of rape or incest, then wouldn't we all agree that law enforcement needs to be notified?
Florida law prohibits minors getting their ears — or any part of their body — pierced without the written, notarized consent of the minor's parent or legal guardian. And if the child is younger than 16, the minor must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Shouldn't we also require consent for minors who want emergency contraception pills?
The Times calls for parents to be involved in their children's lives, especially in their education. I agree. It is the parents' responsibility and duty to know how a child is performing in school and to help him or her succeed. But isn't it that same parent's responsibility and duty to know about the child's sexual behavior?
The "science" debate belongs in the discussion on whether these emergency contraception pills only prevent a pregnancy by stopping ovulation or also abort a pregnancy by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg.
Maureen Ahern, St. Petersburg
Debate boosts Gingrich's standing | Dec. 12
Reality on the ground
The recent remarks about Palestinians by Newt Gingrich are offensive not only to the Palestinians but also to all who have witnessed Palestinian daily life. Despite the oppression under which they live, the majority of Palestinians promote and practice nonviolence. All the Republican candidates have shown great ignorance and insensitivity to this human rights issue. Perhaps they should forgo another debate and take a trip to the West Bank instead.
Lois Rogers-Watson, Palm Harbor
Dramatic shifts in views toward guns Dec. 12
Putting fear into criminals
Your subheadline says, "Even as rates of violent crime fall." If state gun laws were getting stricter and guns were becoming less accepted, you would not hesitate to draw the conclusion that more gun control equals less violent crime.
It's simply a fact the criminals are afraid of targets who might target them back.
Ed Mills, Clearwater
Payroll tax cut
Here's how to pay for it
Need to find a way to pay for an extension of the payroll tax reduction? The perfect place to start is by eliminating the cap on wages subject to the tax, and this is the perfect time to make that change.
All of the wealthy wage earners affected by the change would still get a tax break until their earnings exceed $200,000, if the tax rate is levied at half its previous rate. In addition to helping pay for the tax cut extension in the short term, eliminating the cap would also solve most of the pending long-term Social Security shortfall.
Jerry Stephens, Riverview
Money well spent
We applaud the restoration of $5.4 million in funding for the Florida Healthy Start program in the governor's 2012 budget. This investment will ensure needed services are available to expectant and new families in our state, providing babies with the best start in life.
It reinstates funding cuts made to the program in the final hours of the 2011 legislative session that resulted in the elimination of care to an estimated 22,600 pregnant women and infants. The program has lost more than 20 percent of its support over the last five years despite increased need, particularly among pregnant women and newborns impacted by the state's growing drug epidemic. These cuts threatened our progress in reducing infant mortality, which has reached its lowest level in two decades.
Paying for prevention pays off in both immediate and long-term savings. Research shows women who receive services like Healthy Start have better birth outcomes, including fewer low birth weight infants, fewer preterm infants and fewer infants transferred to neonatal intensive care units.
A healthy, productive workforce starts with healthy babies.
Judi Vitucci, president, Florida Association of Healthy Start Coalitions Inc., Largo
Election law puts teacher in hot seat | Dec. 13
Threats to democracy
Are we a democracy? Or are we now ruled? First, the attorney general goes after doctors telling them how and what medication they are allowed to prescribe to their patients. Now, the attorney general is moving on to teachers.
"Dawn Quarles' fate rests in the hands of Attorney General Pam Bondi" is how this article starts. A teacher is trying to teach students to be responsible voters, and once again here come the authorities telling teachers what they can and cannot do. Teachers should not have to worry about going to jail when they are trying to do their jobs. What is next? Are we going to start handing out golden crowns at elections?
Pamela Ericson, St. Petersburg
Obama heralds war's end | Dec. 13
End the perpetual wars
So ends a shameful era in our country's history: a war founded on lies that began with the war crime known as "shock and awe" and brought us torture at Abu Ghraib, the Haditha massacre and more. Good riddance.
But this despicable cloud had a silver lining: It allowed many of us to show our children (and grandchildren) what people of conscience do in a time of crisis. They speak out — at BayWalk, on street corners, in Washington, in thousands of other cities and towns throughout the country.
Perhaps someday we can end the acceptance of perpetual war as a natural state for this country, and the squandering of our precious human and financial resources on killing in other countries to enforce foreign policy objectives. If our generation can't do it, perhaps the next can.
But we're hearing that familiar drumbeat again, and this time it's Iran. Will we ever learn?
Robert Van Wyk, St. Pete Beach