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Everybody's Column

>Better use of contraception will help reduce abortions

Once again, the annual Catholic Conference of U.S. Bishops has come down hard on supporters of abortion rights, confusing pro-choice laws with surgical abortions and ignoring the Church's fundamental "principle of proportion" -- the obligation to weigh the evils that happen when abortion is legalized or prohibited.

Several studies, particularly a recent global survey conducted by the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization, provide some challenging perspectives: that anti-abortion laws have virtually no effect in reducing abortions; that they take a heavy toll on women's health; and that the most effective strategy to reduce abortions is better use of contraception.

After the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, for example, abortion rates were cut in half when contraception became more available. When translating Christian values into public policy, according to the American Catholic Theological Society, "dialogue and theological discussion" must prevail, not church commands that "violate the sacredness of conscience."

In the complex, messy area of abortion, laws enhancing women's freedom to choose life rather than imposing prohibitions might well be the most effective option for protecting the lives of the unborn.

Edward Cuddy
Kenmore

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>Mercy Flight provides vital, life-saving service

Let me get this right. The neighbors of Women and Children's Hospital lobbied long and hard for the hospital to remain in the neighborhood. And the only way they feel emergency patients should be brought in is by ground ambulance.

That means that when their children are critically hurt 30 to 60 minutes away from the hospital, they wouldn't mind having their children suffer the lengthy drive in the back of an ambulance versus a 15- to 30-minute flight that gets them to the hospital delivering the most appropriate level of care.

My husband has been a flight paramedic with Mercy Flight for more than 15 years. I have yet to see a pilot "hot-dogging" or "Top Gunning" on a medical mission. For anyone unfamiliar with air travel, the winds dictate how the approach to landings and takeoffs occur, and the pilots use only two agreed-on routes based on those winds.

Look at Mercy Flight's safety record, its dedication to patient care and the training hours the pilots all log. I, for one, am grateful to have this service available to all residents in Western New York.

Jo Anne Yuhnke
Elma

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>Euthanasia is wrong way to ease people's suffering

I was alarmed with the recent letter extolling the virtues of euthanasia. The author did make one valid point. It is much cheaper to kill patients than to care for them. However, financial considerations are frequently a poor guide to ethical decision making.

Proponents point out the supposed success of euthanasia in the Netherlands. In fact, the Dutch government's own reports indicate it has lost control of the process. Established procedures are being ignored. That country is already on a very real "slippery slope."

I lived in Michigan during Dr. Jack Kevorkian's reign of terror. Half of his victims did not even have a terminal illness. Many were in the early stages of a chronic disease and were probably suffering from depression. They needed counseling, not a tank of carbon monoxide.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Netherlands has little organized hospice care available. Contrast that with the situation in Great Britain, where the hospice concept originated. Only 1 percent of its patients experience significant pain that can't be adequately controlled.

We need more research in pain management, and better education of health care providers in palliative care. Hospice programs should be expanded, and more patients should benefit from their services.

Paul M. Gannon, R.N.
West Seneca

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>Soldiers should receive a discount on air fare

On my flight home for Thanksgiving, the young man next to me lifted the window flap to reveal a fantastic view of nothing -- part of the craft's engine blocked sight of both the sky and ground. "Five hundred-thirty dollars for this?" he mumbled, sighing. Having noticed my stunned expression, he asked how much I had paid. I replied that my parents bought the tickets, too embarrassed to admit traveling the same distance for $400 less.

As we talked, I realized why his ticket had been so expensive. As a Marine, he could not reserve plane tickets more than a few days in advance; his duties precluded him from knowing exactly when he could enjoy the leave he had earned. I responded with words The News cannot print.

Since then, I have twisted my feelings into a single question: Not only have we sacrificed the safety of our troops in an unjustifiable, ineptly run war, without proper equipment and adequate health care, but we also permit the additional burden of astronomical air fare? I call on Congress to pass immediate legislation to subsidize air travel for U.S. service members while on active duty. These men and women have paid enough already.

Chris Willett
Orchard Park

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>Reynolds is no friend to Western New York

Is The News an unwitting public relations arm of President Bush's local lapdog, Congressman Tom Reynolds? On the day Reynolds testified before the House Ethics Committee on his sordid role in the Mark Foley page scandal, the paper ran a huge picture of Reynolds alongside an article about how he saved the day for the area during the October surprise snowstorm. Was it a surprise that Bush chose Reynolds, who was set to lose the November election, to announce the president had declared Western New York a disaster area?

Only a natural disaster, and the paper's covering of Reynolds' supposed role with FEMA, saved this political disaster so he could inflict more pain on good working men and women by supporting Bush's failed war in Iraq, subversion of the Constitution and veto of the Children's Health Insurance Program.

At least the snowstorm was a story. The paper recently gave coverage to a nonstory -- Reynolds signing on with 219 other congressmen to reverse Pentagon policy of asking wounded soldiers in Iraq to repay their signing bonuses since they can no longer fight. Prominently mentioned was a strongly worded letter Reynolds sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. What was left unsaid is that the letter was sent only after total outrage was registered by all media.

Ross Runfola
Buffalo

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