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Tuesday, October 1, 2013: Pedestrian safety, veganism and abortion

Pedestrian protection

On foot or by bicycle, neither side of our country roads are safe as long as careless drivers will speed and pass each other within inches of our bodies.

Some concerned citizens advocate a change in rules to have bicyclers ride facing traffic, so they can see danger ahead. But neither they, nor pedestrians, have any protection when a passing speeder suddenly comes from behind. Huge trucks are very scary, but so are the new silent, energy-efficient cars.

Not that it would be enforced, but I’d like to see the law forbid passing wherever a person is walking beside the road.

Sharon Bray


Food month

Looking through my calendar of national observances, it appears that October is turning into “food month,” beginning with World Vegetarian Day and World Farm Animals Day on Oct. 1 and 2, continuing with National School Lunch Week on Oct. 14-18 and World Food Day on Oct. 16, and culminating with Food Day on Oct. 24.

World Farm Animals Day ( www.WFAD.org), on Oct. 2, is perhaps the most dramatic of these. It celebrates the lives, exposes the abuses and memorializes the slaughter of billions of sentient animals raised for food. Recent undercover investigations showed male baby chicks suffocated in plastic garbage bags or ground to death, pigs clobbered with metal pipes and cows skinned and dismembered while still conscious.

Moreover, a recent Harvard study of more than 120,000 people confirmed once again that meat consumption raises mortality from cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Animal agriculture accounts for more water pollution than all other human activities. A 2011 United Nations report recommends eating less meat to reduce greenhouse gases.

The good news is that our meat consumption has been dropping by nearly 4 percent annually. Entering “live vegan” in a search engine brings lots of useful transition tips.

Bob Donnellan


Where’s the outrage?

Kudos to writers Michael Karnas and Constance Henkel for their Sept. 25 letters to the editor.

How insightful.

When economists lamented about Maine’s aging population and the need for at least 60,000 younger people to avert financial disaster because “Maine’s aging population poses financial threat,” Karnas responded (according to official statistics), “Between 1978 and 1994, there were about 60,000 abortions performed in Maine. These babies would now range in age from 19 to 35 and would be contributing to the tax base.”

Babies who were inconvenient then would be lifesavers now. Long-term consequences?

About the outrage and the upset about lobsters feeling pain and the cruelty of their being torn limb from limb, Henkel compares the lobster to the human baby in the womb being torn limb from limb in an abortion. “Cruel? No, it’s a choice in our culture. The dismemberment of a fully formed baby in the womb is unconscionable. [Yet] … some people have no complaint about that.”

Where’s the outrage? They just look the other way. Yet, they’ll put up a fight for the lobsters.

Where are our priorities? Where are our moral standards? Where’s our common sense?

Cleo Ouellette


Midwives appreciation

I was happy to read the article ” Midwife, activist seek to protect in-home births” in the Sept. 27 BDN. As a mother whose two children were born at home, I am very interested in ensuring that home birth remains a choice for all prospective parents.

I believe that women require a place in which they feel safe and comfortable when they are in labor. Some women prefer a hospital, some a birthing center and some prefer to be at home. I fall into the last category and feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to have highly skilled midwives help me through pregnancy and labor both in Massachusetts and here in Belfast.

I would not have known that home birth was an option if it weren’t for one of my sisters choosing it for her two births. I was lucky that she made me aware of a choice that otherwise would not have been on the horizon for me. If not for her, I’d have been in labor in a place that was not comfortable for me personally and that would not have been conducive to a positive outcome.

It is my wish that the option of home birth isn’t so arbitrarily presented as a choice for women but that it is presented alongside other options as an equally viable choice.

I appreciate the work of the women mentioned in the article, Nicolle Littrell and Laura Donnelly, and of all midwives and home birth activists.

Jessie Dunson-Todd


Land of plenty

As a food pantry provider, I see many families struggling to put food on the table. One of our clients is a working, single mother of two children. This woman graduated college with honors and is employed in a medical office. Unfortunately, the family’s monthly expenses, including rent, heat, electricity, telephone, child care and medical care exceed her monthly income. How is it possible for this working woman to provide food for her family?

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits provide this woman with the means to make healthy food choices while retaining her sense of dignity, by allowing her to choose and shop for her own food. Legislators who support SNAP cuts tell us that a college-educated mother should be able to provide for her family’s basic needs. However, given our current economic climate, this is simply not the case.

SNAP benefits provide working families the security of knowing where their next meal is coming from. When SNAP runs short, she relies on her local food pantry to fill in the gaps. However, pantries are seeing more people and have less food to provide. This is only one of the many families that we serve. As a food pantry provider, I worry that we will see many more struggling families if SNAP benefits are reduced.

No person should be deprived of their basic daily dietary needs. Yet without SNAP as a safety net, many families will have their health and well-being compromised. This shouldn’t happen in our country, not in the land of plenty.

Joanna Moore


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