Letters for August 24, 2006

What’s wrong with America?

Re “SN&R’s cartoon controversy” (SN&R Essay, August 17):

I saw the August 3 cartoon by John Kloss and was amazed that Kloss had willingly stepped on the third rail: criticizing Israeli-government policy in the American media. The cartoon was bold, and therefore bound to piss off a lot of folks, but I was not prepared for the onslaught that followed from readers.

After traveling extensively in Europe and elsewhere, it seems that only in America is a two-sided discussion on the Middle East impossible. It seems to me that we are missing out on a vital discussion about the real issues in the Middle East.

Even in Israel there is a much broader discussion of this issue. What’s up with America?

Tom Barcus
via e-mail

Watch the name-calling, Bites!

Re “Nasty business” (SN&R Bites, August 17):

Usually, I enjoy reading Bites’ opinion column, but this time he went too far. Calling U2 “Christianofascist” is not only untrue; it is very, very, very un-cool.

One can legitimately object to Bono’s political and business activities over the past few years (shilling for iPods and the like, yes; but he’s also worked to get money to deal with the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa and to raise awareness about global poverty issues). But calling his band “Christianofascist” is over the line and seems to be based on nothing more than three of the members’ self-identification as Christians.

I’m afraid I’ve lost what little respect I had for Bites’ opinions. And SN&R is much poorer for including such a pathetic diatribe from him.

Dairl Helmer

Remember, it’s for emergencies

Re “Birth control battle” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, August 10):

As a supporter of open access to emergency contraception, I eagerly picked up your latest issue to read the cover story about the battle over Plan B. The article is mostly an accurate, well-written chronicle of the current political war over this form of birth control. But writer Chrisanne Beckner undercuts the entire purpose of profiling the issue in one paragraph, when she describes Plan B as “an almost perfect means of backup contraception, one that doesn’t need to be taken at the same time every day or implanted under the skin or inserted in advance. And no one has to encase any part of himself or herself in rubber.”

It’s just that kind of statement that opponents of Plan B use to stop its transition from prescription to over-the-counter availability. Plan B is still potent medicine that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Its availability should never cause partners to refrain from using condoms or other forms of birth control. Emergency contraception is just that—an emergency form of contraception. It is not and should not be used instead of normal, effective, safe and much less mentally taxing forms of birth control.

Plan B does not prevent, treat or cure sexually transmitted diseases either. It’s bad enough that the paragraph implies that the pill, Norplant or spermicide are “backup” or somehow less important with Plan B. But to imply that condoms aren’t needed if Plan B is on hand is just wrong—factually and ethically.

I hope any future discussion of emergency contraception emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility in sexual activity. In a perfect world, no one will need Plan B because everyone will be safe beforehand. Plan B shouldn’t be characterized as the first line of defense, and Ms. Beckner was wrong to do so.

Christiana Dominguez

Listen to God

Re “Birth control battle” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, August 10):

Thank you for this article by Chrisanne Beckner. By including Jennifer Le, a registered nurse, in the article, your reporter came close to writing an unbiased report about this controversial topic.

It is really a pretty simple issue when you think of it. Life begins at the moment of conception; it is how every one of us blessed to be living begins our lives. To bring an intentional end to life is to kill, whether you are ending your own life or ending someone else’s life. We, who are created by an all-good, all-loving God out of a love so immense we can not begin to grasp or understand it, have been instructed by this all-good, all-loving God not to kill. Since he created the whole universe and knows a lot more than I do, I figure it’s a good thing when I try to listen to him, since he has all of our best interests at heart.

Jan England

More painful experience

Re “Birth control battle” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, August 10):

This SN&R article detailing local mom Kim Smith’s atrocious experience in being denied the emergency contraceptive pill served as a reminder of my own recent and similarly unnerving interaction with a Sacramento pharmacist.

A little over a month ago, after encountering a series of complications in switching my health-care provider, my new doctor took weeks to obtain and administer my regular birth control. During this unforeseen gap in my prescription, my longtime boyfriend and I continued to be sexually active while protecting ourselves with condoms. Apparently, those unreliable pieces of crap (condoms) break easily, and one of ours did just that on a Friday night.

Panic set in when I could not contact my new doctor or his on-call weekend physician. Wanting to act fast, I located a drug store that was supposed to provide Plan B without a prescription.

The pharmacist on duty would not see me for hours. Finally, upon meeting with me and inquiring as to when my last “bleed” (his words)—or menstrual cycle—was, he determined I was not at risk of pregnancy because of his own doubt that I was ovulating at the time of the failed-condom incident. In other words, he tried to deny me Plan B by talking me out of it.

I was absolutely incensed. I am 20 years old, leaving for college down south this fall and ready to start a new life for myself. I am in no way prepared or willing to raise a child I am not completely ready to care for or love at this point in my existence. What had happened was in every way an accident and an emergency.

I felt he was acting way outside of his medical obligation and legal rights. Not until I broke down and cried in front of this pharmacist and implied that I would deal with this unwanted pregnancy with or without his help (have an abortion if necessary) did he at last give me the pills.

The entire ordeal left me shaken, angry, feeling violated and lacking all faith in the current process for obtaining this crucial birth-control product. Something has to change. I fear for and pity anyone similarly trying to prevent an unwanted pregnancy through this method that is living in California.

name withheld by request

Pharmacists should just do their jobs

Re “Birth control battle” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, August 10):

The job of a pharmacist is to provide the patient with the medication that her doctor has prescribed for her. Pharmacists are not doctors and do not have the right to make medical decisions, nor to override a doctor’s judgment. If a pharmacist refuses to fill a prescription, then he is practicing medicine without a license and should be prosecuted. Period.

Brian Stovall

Getting ‘creative’ with definitions

Re “Birth control battle” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, August 10):

What an eye-opening article. The opponents of Plan B are not so much anti-abortion as they are against removing God’s creativity. It appears that God is exercising ample creativity in Third World countries, where birth rates soar and children suffer in pestilence, disease and hunger. I think that pretty much negates the God’s-creativity argument. And if sex is to be used strictly for procreation, hell will be overflowing with sinners. In fact, I see hardly anyone heaven-bound under that philosophy.

The truth is that under the Bush regime, the Food and Drug Administration will continue to delay approving Plan B as over-the-counter. Why? It does not cause an abortion but prevents an unwanted pregnancy. I thought that was paramount to the pro-lifers. But now they come out and say that they don’t like removing God’s creativity. And they tilt further toward outlawing abortion; thanks for demonstrating that slippery slope for us.

I have a solution for the health-care professionals that don’t like dispensing birth control. Go read the Hippocratic Oath. For many, that includes reference to being opposed to abortion. OK, but it does not say you must not dispense birth control. And if you cannot abide by that oath, then you have no business in health care.

Firefighters and police officers don’t get to pick and choose who to serve. Why should people in health care be any different?

Rick C. Yadon

So much for ‘pro-life’

Re “Birth control battle” by Chrisanne Beckner (SN&R Feature Story, August 10):

I suggest that the people who claim to be so “pro life” (i.e., Jennifer Le and others) take their just cause to the White House and protest “ill-conceived” wars that are too easily started and have no end.

How sad and ironic that people whine and cry over a few cells but think nothing of standing by and watching bombs fall on innocent, living, “viable” human beings.

Pete Stay