Biracial African American. Pregnant high school senior. Living in Tampa's Suit-Case City, just footsteps away from Planned Parenthood. But in 2001, the cycle of abortion in our family was ending with me.
I found Catholic Charities. They provided Christmas that year along with rent assistance and diapers. They connected me to Healthy Families, a local initiative of family support workers on the prevention side of child abuse. Thanks to the support of family, I graduated high school, college and onto grad school. I went on to work for Healthy Families Florida while in college, empowering other teen moms who chose life. Later, I became a member of the advisory board for Healthy Families Hillsborough and The Child Abuse Council.
Was the road easy? Not at all. However, the worth can be found in my daughter, who is now 17 and works as an emcee for pro-life events and speaks boldly on chastity to her peers. If we are going to combat the evil of abortion, we should look beyond religious objections. We can't say abortions are wrong solely because of our Christian principles. How about the inarguable statistics on post-abortive mental health trauma and familial discord with subsequent pregnancies?
We are all affected by the choices and the burdens of one another. The mental health crisis in our country, the rise in opioid addictions, homelessness, child abuse and school shootings are examples of societal injustices that affect us all. We also can make a powerful impact on the billion-dollar sex-slave industry by cracking down on abortion providers who have ties with traffickers. The pain and grief of many post-abortive men and women in our workplaces, schools, and churches will affect their web of relationships and society at large. That we can continue to count on.
Clarissa Carruthers-Dodsworth, Tampa
Surprise medical billing
No doubt many of us are all too aware of the issue called "surprise medical billing." This will typically occur after a medical emergency when a patient, in their moment of need, happens to be treated by emergency medical personnel who are not a part of their insurance provider network.
These patients are then stuck with large and unexpected medical bills from their insurance companies when they refuse to cover expenses for doctors that are not in their network.
As with many issues, all solutions to the problem are not equal. For example, there is a proposal in Congress now to fix the problem with rate setting by the government.
This may sound appealing as a way to control costs, but it will not fix the cause of surprise billing and will ultimately end up limiting access to health care, especially in rural areas.
A better way to address this important problem is through an independent dispute resolution process. Several states, including New York, have implemented this type of arbitration with good results.
Let's fix surprise medical billing with an independent resolution process rather than government price controls.
Kelley Treon, Lakeland
Most felons can't pay up | Aug. 23
Do the crime, do time
This is a perfect illustration of why you don't want to commit a felony. Committing a crime has implications — sorry about that!
Yes, everyone wants to be able to vote. Well, if you commit a felony, there are costs beyond whatever you did, whether it was to steal a car, merchandise, money or whatever.
So now comes the hard part, and that includes court costs and prison time. So before committing a crime, people would be wise to think about the ramifications.
In life there are many lessons to be learned, and this is definitely one of them.
Carolyn Marek, Holiday
Most felons can't pay up | Aug. 23
My vote was stolen
It doesn't take a "study" to verify that Tallahassee Republicans essentially stole voting rights from thousands of felons who had completed their jail time.
Those same Republicans also stole my vote — the one which I cast for Amendment 4 fully intending that, once jail time was complete, a felon should be able to vote.
Under the guise of "implementing legislation," both houses of our Legislature and the governor warped the will of Floridians who voted for the constitutional amendment, twisting the outcome to their advantage. Not all crooks are felons. Some thieves are politicians in Tallahassee.
Stephen Phillips, St. Petersburg
Nature favors the bold leggy | Aug. 23
A web of weather
Well, if the idea of a bigger, more aggressive spider does not get people to come around on climate change, then I don't know what will.
Carlos DeCisneros, Tampa