A threat to women’s health, not to doctors’ consciences

Your May 19 article “Members seek abortion conscience protections” gives the false impression that, without the regulation instituted by the Bush administration, physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals could be compelled to provide abortions against their will in order to keep their jobs. In fact, for years before this regulation was proposed, federal law amply protected doctors and others’ right to abstain from abortion procedures. The law will continue to safeguard the right to refuse if the regulation is rescinded.

The three House members who wrote to President Obama in hopes of saving the regulation should spend their energy instead visiting the nation’s hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices where women can have abortions. They would find staffs that accommodate their co-workers’ beliefs, rearranging schedules, reassigning duties, and otherwise relieving those who do not want to provide abortions of any responsibility for doing so.

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By omitting the medical and legal reality of conscience protection, your article and the three House members divert attention from the regulation’s unnecessary expansion of the law. For instance, this rule lets anyone involved in treating patients refuse to mention abortion, contraception, or any other medical service that goes against their conscience.

And the regulation does not allow for medical emergencies. With federal sanction, a rape survivor won’t hear about emergency contraception if she is treated by people who don’t believe in it. A pregnant woman with worsening breast cancer, if her doctor doesn’t believe in abortion, won’t find out that an abortion will keep her alive.

In his decision to begin the recision process, President Obama has the support of thousands of physicians, physicians’ assistants, nurses and others in the healthcare system, not to mention thousands of patients. Dozens of medical groups took official stands against the rule, and hundreds of thousands of people submitted public comments against it. We all see the regulation for what it is: a pointless risk to women’s health.

Edmonds, Wash.



Shifting detainees is a chump’s game



From Wes Pedersen

President Obama says closing Guantanamo will remove a hideous stain on the reputation of America everywhere. It won’t. Shutting down the holding facility and shifting its detainees to a prison elsewhere would be a chump’s game. It might fulfill a poorly thought-out campaign PR promise, but it would be needlessly expensive and it would not cleanse our nation’s reputation because the international community’s charges against it would simply transfer to whatever facility was chosen to house the inmates.

Chevy Chase, Md.

War-spending bill  not change we need


From Magdi Badawy

(Regarding article “$97B war-funding bill passes House,” May 14.) The House’s vote for the war supplemental last week, 368-60, was cowardly, demonstrating a lack of fresh thinking and resolve.  Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), who voted against the war supplemental, said, “I’m tired of wars with no deadlines, no exits and no ends.”

So am I. So are the veterans and military families who bear the brunt of speeded-up redeployments, stop-loss, chronic anxiety and bereavement. There is no right way to fight a wrong war. The escalation of war in Afghanistan is not the change that Americans voted for.

Accokeek, Md.