Healthcare expansion may reduce number of abortions

What’s amazing about the abortion issue, for all its importance in our national politics over the past three decades, is how little we actually know about it as a socioeconomic phenomenon.

Abortion statistics are incomplete and available only on a three- to four-year lag. That’s convenient for pro-life politicians who are strong on rhetoric but don’t want to be held accountable for actual results. But it hinders an understanding about how social policies actually affect the abortion rate here in the United States. …

Despite the pro-life movement’s opposition to healthcare reform, it’s likely that the measure will actually reduce abortions rather than increase them. What little research that’s been done on the issue has shown a significant association between the lack of access to healthcare and a higher probability of having an abortion.

[Under] the healthcare reform measure, it’s unknown whether any federally funded abortions that might (or might not) take place would actually be additional to those that would have taken place anyway without financial support. It’s also likely that the small number of additional abortions that might (or might not) result from these reforms would be outweighed by the overall reduction in the number of abortions because of increased access to healthcare.

Floyds Knobs, Ind.

Reconciling industry with water supply

From Heiner Markhoff, president and CEO, GE Water and Process Technologies

Your March 18 article, “Environmental Protection Agency to study controversial gas drilling method,” sheds light on the critical need to protect our threatened water supply. What it fails to share is that there are, in fact, solutions to enable our country to access our natural energy reserves while simultaneously protecting the environment and public health.

We support efforts by the EPA to ensure the healthy water supply needed to sustain our population and our way of life. The issues related to hydraulic fracturing are complex and, without proper attention, have the potential to impact both water quality and quantity. But even if the results of this study uncover issues, I am confident that suppliers like GE can help industrial users safely produce gas and energy without environmental sacrifice.

Today, by applying existing technologies and systems, industries involved in these processes can actually reduce overall freshwater consumption, effectively reuse the water needed in the fracturing process and ultimately treat the remaining water to a very high quality state. In fact, in some cases, the treated water is of higher quality than the original source water.

GE continues to conduct research and develop solutions to eliminate water quality issues and reverse the trend toward water scarcity. We understand the environmental, regulatory and fiscal issues, and support our industrial customers with revolutionary technology and a continued investment to help position industry for the future.

Huge amounts of water are used in virtually every form of industrial processing — including manufacturing, mining, oil and gas drilling and the production of electricity. In the U.S., nearly 45 percent of our invaluable freshwater resources are used for industrial purposes.

While it is unlikely that, as a country, we will significantly reduce the need for these industrial applications, it is very feasible to adopt practices that allow us to recover, reuse and better treat these waters so we can achieve a more sustainable water supply for the future.

Trevose, Pa.