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Foster nomination ignored feelings of abortion foes

Re: Foster's post-mortem, June 23.

Sen. Bob Dole did not lose the respect of fair-minded people, as you stated in your editorial, when he stopped the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster for surgeon general.

There are millions of us Americans who know that abortion stops the beating heart of a human being. To nominate a person who has stopped one of these hearts, let alone 39, is being totally insensitive to the feelings of those millions of Americans. Is it fair to disregard their feelings as though they count for nothing?

President Clinton could have chosen any number of "gentle" men who have never performed an abortion. Why didn't he?

Barbara Hungerford, Palm Harbor

A biased voice?

Re: Foster nomination declared all but dead, June 22.

Is it just me, or are others getting the feeling that U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, seems to speak with a louder voice and with greater righteous conviction when the nominee with whom he finds himself in disagreement is also a member of a minority? His words about such nominees as Ron Brown, Dr. Joycelyn Elders and Dr. Henry Foster Jr. come to mind.

Dan A. Sparks, Clearwater

Foster supported

The antics surrounding the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster for surgeon general were a farce. It was unbelievable that this man had to continue to prove himself when everything pointed to his fitness and integrity. The fact that he went amiss on the number of abortions he performed was a weak excuse to veto his nomination. The man was doing his job under the law, and this abortion business should not have been a deterrent to his nomination.

For crying out loud, can't this subject be left to the doctors, churches and people involved without bringing it up at every government action? This is becoming a political football and is dividing our country as it seems to enter into almost every phase of politics.

Louise Forsyth, Dunedin

Bodies and choices

The anti-abortion movement won a recent victory in the House when members voted to reinstate a ban on medical personnel at overseas military installations performing abortions (House Republicans zero in on abortion, June 16).

As I read into this restrictive attempt to prevent a woman's right to determine how she will use her body, I am reminded of the double standard our society maintains regarding "unpregnant" and pregnant individuals.

In our society there is no law that demands an "unpregnant" person surrender any body part for another's survival. Desperately ill patients in need of organ transplants, for example, do not have the right to demand that another human be required by law to give up any body part against his/her will. No one is obligated to make such a sacrifice _ even if that means the untimely death of a viable, contributing member of society and loved family member.

Yet in the case of a woman who chooses not to use her body for the purpose of nurturing a fetus there exists an obvious double standard. While the legal system has indicated that all non-pregnant individuals have the right to decide what they may do with all parts of their bodies, it is argued that pregnant women be denied the right to choose what might happen to theirs when the "potential" for life is involved.

Not only does this double standard violate the basic rights of pregnant women by denying them the same rights afforded "non-pregnant" persons, it also establishes the dangerous practice of valuing one life more than another. To say that a fetus is more valuable because it is "innocent" and, thus, pregnant women's bodies must be regulated by law, disregarding the humanity of desperately ill people who would benefit from the use of another's body. If we're going to legislate the use of pregnant women's bodies why not legislate the use of everyone's for the well-being of all human life?

Imagine a law that would require you give a kidney because you're the perfect match for a human life in need, and would brand you a murderer because you believed it was your right to choose not to do so.

Jennie Kranak, Port Richey

Abortion frustration

Re: Henry Foster, abortion, politics, etc.

I'm curious to see the spin the lobbyists on both sides of this issue will give it in order to raise funds. No doubt contributors one one side will be asked to cough up funds to "keep up the momentum" with the hope of banning abortion. On the other side, there will be dire predictions that abortions are to become illegal soon.

The bottom line remains the fact that the Foster vote did not affect the legal status of abortion one iota. It is also probable that any House-passed limitations will be blocked in the Senate, or they will be vetoed.

As a political issue, abortion is self-canceling anyway. For every vote that is garnered one way, another is lured to the other. To the people with strongly held opinions, it is important, of course, and extremes exist on both sides. The reason for this divisiveness is that the Supreme Court got involved in an issue before the public was totally ready to deal with it. Had it been left to the will of the people, as expressed in state legislatures, we would have been spared this frustration.

Leonard Martino, Tampa

Cruelty to the unborn

Your report on third-trimester abortions (Panel votes to ban late abortions, June 22) omitted some relevant facts.

First, these are not true abortions. Under other circumstances, they would be called premature live births. The baby would be put into an incubator and its life saved. There is simply no way to pass these infants off as mere tissue masses. Were it not for pro-abortion ideology, no one would question that these children have a basic right to live.

Second, the procedure involves piercing the baby's skull while it is yet capable of writhing in agony. Surgery done on non-aborted fetuses as developed as the aborted ones could not, in good conscience, be performed without anesthetic. Claims that children so young cannot feel pain are simply contrived to excuse the procedure.

Compassion for women with crisis pregnancy can take many forms. Cruelty to unborn children need not be one of them.

Robert Arvay, Tampa

Diversity of opinion

Re: Helen M. Alvare column, Med schools coerced by "choice' lobby, and Mary McGrory column, Mother Teresa, Hillary agree about children, June 21.

Unlike some papers, the Times and its editorial staff apparently believe that its readers are mature enough to read diverse opinions, exchange ideas and then make up their own minds on the issues.

That diversity of opinion was clearly illustrated by Helen Alvare's column, which provided information that may not agree with the Times' editorial position on abortion. The column was thought-provoking and transcended the abortion issue to raise important questions about our ability to trust a medical establishment that ignores the moral and ethical concerns of its own members.

On the same page, the Times' practice of presenting diverse views was affirmed by Mary McGrory's column, Mother Teresa, Hillary agree about children. I can't imagine three individuals with more diverse perspectives than Hillary Clinton, Mother Teresa and D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. Yet, McGrory beautifully captured their ability to communicate on important issues, to find areas of agreement, to overlook their differences of opinion on unrelated matters and to work together for a common goal "to save the children."

Thanks for your contribution to civil discourse on the West Coast of Florida. May your readers (including this one) respond in a manner that will encourage, rather than discourage, an exchange of ideas.

W. R. Watts, Beverly Hills

Butt out on speed limits

Re: Senate votes to let states set speed limits, June 21, concerning the federal government's involvement in highway speed limits.

Let's all ask our senators and congressmen either to butt out of the speed limit business completely or ensure that all vehicles drive at approximately the same speeds. Your article quotes some as saying that speed kills, but this is not true. Accidents kill! And accidents are usually caused by people making mistakes. For the federal government to suggest that trucks should go 10-15 miles per hour slower than automobiles causes a much more accident-prone environment than high speed does. If cars went 55 mph and trucks only 40 mph, it would cause far more accidents than everyone driving 70 mph.

Everyone, please contact your representative and senators and the White House to encourage them to get totally out of the speed limit business _ but if they must continue, encourage them not to have disparity of speed limits on different vehicles.

Don Thompson, St. Petersburg

Change for the better

I read with interest the article by Frank Witsil in Monday's (June 19) Times, "Will the third try be the charm for $1 coin?"

I think if enough senior citizens, young people and average citizens, rich or poor, wrote to their congressmen we could abolish the "one-dollar bill" and save our government millions of dollars a year. Other countries have adopted the $1 coin. Why can't we? Abolishing the one-dollar bill hurts no one. Our country thrives on change. We can do it.

If government could make more such cuts we could "balance the budget" without hurting the poor, our children or the elderly. Letters to our Congress letting them know how we feel would be the first step.

May H. White, Holiday

Not chained to the past

"What's past is prologue," said William Shakespeare.

"History is not relevant," says Charlie Crist (Prison crew law not fetered by details, June 22).

Are we to believe a 400-year-old, dead foreigner instead of a state senator? You betcha.

Chris Kelly, St. Petersburg

Skating sense

Re: Growing sport, growing risk.

Gee, I guess most skaters when skating outdoors wouldn't assume that if they fall down, they might get hurt.

Most outdoor skaters do wear safety equipment _ it's just common sense. I guess this is what our government sometimes lacks when much-needed tax dollars are used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to tell us this.

Always great to see our tax dollars at work!

Philip Kenneth Steele, Clearwater

Correction

Uninsured motorist coverage is strictly optional for Florida drivers. A letter in Monday's Times (Check that car insurance) indicated such coverage is required.

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