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Friday, Jan. 6, 2011: Family Planning, raw milk and lobster

Human value diminished

Diane Smith of Holden wrote a recent letter to the editor about family planning. To follow her line of reasoning, abortion is acceptable because the babies will not all be adopted and should be disposed of, sort of like drowning a litter of unwanted kittens.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is approaching. Wasn’t his work about the dignity and value of all human beings and their equality to all?

This nation’s focus seems to be changing from one of the worth of each person simply because they exist to that of value derived by what we can contribute. Thus we are on our way to becoming units to be discarded when we no longer function. We then join the litter of unwanted kittens.

Margaret Carter


Family Planning savings

Gerald Thibodeau’s recent letter to the editor, “Cut Family Planning,” fails the straight-face test by attempting to distract readers from this fact — family planning saves Maine taxpayers money.

Maine policymakers, Republicans and Democrats, have long recognized that funding family planning is an investment. For every dollar spent on family planning, an estimated $3.82 in Medicaid-related dollars are saved. Maine’s teen pregnancy rate declined 40 percent between 1991 and 2008 — one of the steepest declines in the nation. This saved Maine taxpayers an estimated $31 million in 2008 alone in medical costs that would be paid by Medicaid. In addition, all state funds support direct family planning services.

These facts weigh heavy on lawmakers’ minds as they deal with budget shortfalls — not the ideological opposition to birth control or abortion.

This year, Maine’s family planning system provided reproductive health care to 27,208 women, men and teens — 82 percent of whom qualified for free or reduced fees — seeking critical preventive health care services including Pap tests to detect cervical cancer and breast exams to detect warning signs of breast cancer.

The governor’s proposal to cut $401,000 to family planning would mean reduced hours at some family planning health centers and the elimination of others in most rural parts of Maine. To the extent that this is about money and not about policy or politics or philosophy, it is an extraordinarily unwise move. In the end, reducing funding to family planning will cost far more — financially and socially — than it saves.

Connie Adler, M.D.

Board President

Family Planning Association of Maine

Reading recommendation

Want to know exactly what big health insurance has been doing to persuade you to go against your own best interests? Read “Deadly Spin.” Wendell Potter, former senior PR executive with one of the largest for-profit health insurance corporations in the U.S., has written a book detailing how the health care industry has made fools of us all and paupers of many. After all, he was the “spinmeister” extraordinaire. He knows how it’s done.

Read why he jumped ship. Read how insurers got rid of enrollees who filed claims (drained profits). Check out “rescission” and “purging” in the book; those are just some methods the insurance industry uses to cull the sick from their rolls and make more profits.

Medicare works. Why not follow that model for all health insurance? People on Medicare, like me, pay into it every month even though we’ve paid into it from our paychecks for many years. It’s not free, but the premiums are a lot less than you pay into big health insurance’s for-profit coffers every month. And Medicare doesn’t drop you for getting sick.

Virginia Royster

Blue Hill

Raw milk choice

To drink raw milk or not to drink raw milk? One farmer sells his excess milk to his neighbor who is well aware that it is raw. Since when can he not choose to take the risk about whether to drink it?

I guess we’d better start getting Maine Department of Agriculture’s approval for every jar of jam, every bake sale brownie and every glass of lemonade sold in our little towns since, low and behold, they could also contain E coli, bugs and the whole set of germs found in most every private kitchen.

If we can choose to kill ourselves with cigarettes and myriad other deathly substances that even have the approval of government agencies, then please let us keep the freedom to personally and knowingly choose to drink milk in a form that some consider more healthy than it might be harmful.

Alice Duston


Lobster a prudent choice

One disturbing assumption that has arisen from the recent controversy over Christine Rousselle’s welfare blogs is that purchasing lobsters in Maine is a luxury. Lobsters may be considered extravagant in all the other 49 states of the U.S., but here in Maine lobsters should be a staple on every menu.

Lobster is highly nutritious, fresh, minimally processed and super-easy to prepare. Purchasing lobster supports a vital Maine industry.

When SNAP recipients choose lobster, they are making a nutritious choice that keeps Maine dollars here in Maine. So the next time you see someone use their EBT card to purchase lobster, congratulate them on making a sensible selection. Then suggest they pair that lobster with some Maine potatoes and some Maine wild blueberries. What could be better than using SNAP money to purchase a healthy meal harvested and sold by fellow Mainers?

Wanda Labrecque


LePage no Caesar

Gov. LePage probably was thinking of Julius Caesar’s famous words, “I came, I saw, I conquered,” when he decided to invite himself to the three information sessions in the County on his proposed cuts in the programs that are the lifeline to some of the most vulnerable in our society.

Well, he came, he saw, but he did not conquer. He failed to convince the large attendance that his proposals are the only way to go. Thanks to many people who had the courage to speak up despite his bullying and insults, he was exposed as the purveyor of doom and gloom. The governor resorted to the blame game, rebuking the Legislature — which ironically has a majority of his own party in both the House and Senate — for not cooperating with him to apply Draconian cuts in order to balance the budget and chastising the federal government for its decrease of money coming to Maine.

The blame game and strong-arm tactics don’t work with people who expect more from their elected officials, especially after experiencing positive results over the years from elected officials from both parties. Fortunately, Maine has been blessed with hardworking Democrats and Republicans who work in a bipartisan way to maintain the safety net that is the mark of a caring and just society.

Ross Paradis


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