Saturday Mailbox


April 02, 2005

Where's outcry over the lack of health care?

The Terri Schiavo case cut to the core of American hearts and souls. In part, the outpouring of passionate support for her parents' position was about the individuals involved. In a larger sense, it was about deep concerns many Americans have about the direction our moral life is taking ("As Schiavo saga winds down, leaders pursue broader debate," March 29).

But one aspect of this moral tension that was not given full consideration in the Schiavo case is access to medical care.

More than 45 million Americans lack health care insurance. The Institute of Medicine has estimated that the lack of health insurance is the direct cause of death for more than 18,000 Americans every year.

These 18,000 Americans die because of complications from very treatable diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes.

In the Schiavo case, there was conflicting evidence as to whether Terri Schiavo would have wanted to continue chronic tube feedings with her degree of brain damage.

There is absolutely no conflicting evidence about the 45 million Americans who are excluded from health care insurance. They want it, and reside in a nation that denies it to them.

There is absolutely no moral ambiguity about the 18,000 Americans who are sentenced to death every year because our health care system refuses to address their needs.

Why is there no moral outcry about these Americans who unnecessarily die every year?

Do they matter as much as Mrs. Schiavo? Where is emergency action by our president and our Congress? Where is the righteous rage from those who fear God?

Terri Schiavo's care cost, at a conservative estimate, $100,000 per year for 15 years.

How many Americans could have been kept alive if equal monies had been spent in treating routine diseases?

How can our president and Congress try to pass budget cuts for Medicaid at a time when lack of health insurance benefits is pushing more and more workers into Medicaid?

Does the suffering of millions of the working poor have any meaning to our leaders?

I have a deep respect for Christians who saw vital moral issues in continuing the tube feedings for Terri Schiavo.

I pray they will be equally able to see the vital moral issues in caring for everyone who needs medical care.

Terri Schiavo's greatest gift to her country may be in wakening its conscience.

Dr. James A. Cockey


Public doesn't want morality imposed

The pollsters told us that moral issues greatly influenced many Americans in the election booth last November.

Fast-forward five months to Terri Schiavo and her parents' effort to have a feeding tube reinserted in her stomach.

Supporters of Mrs. Schiavo's parents claimed to occupy the moral high ground in the argument as conservatives in the Congress, President Bush and Florida Gov. Jeb. Bush attempted to intervene on behalf of Mrs. Schiavo's parents.

Then the pollsters said that 82 percent of Americans thought that Congress should have stayed out of the issue ("As Schiavo saga winds down, leaders pursue broader debate," March 29).

The politicians who felt it was right to attempt to usurp the power of the judiciary need to take a look not only at that decision but also at their idea that the American people want them to dictate morals from their offices.

Without morality, society would surely degenerate into a morass. But history has told us that legislation of morality just doesn't work.

Dan Goodman


Real threat to split of church and state

Trudy Rubin's column on Republican zealots fighting the separation of church and state was right on target ("Republican zealots try to blur the line that separates church and state," Opinion

Commentary, March 25). But she may be too optimistic about the future of the constitutional separation of church and state that that has long been the main safeguard of our religious freedom.

The Bush administration and far too many members of his party in Congress are well on the way to compelling all taxpayers to contribute to the support of faith-based schools and charities, of imposing faith-based restrictions on reproductive rights, of stacking the courts with jurists sympathetic to their aims and cutting off U.S. funding for international efforts to provide reproductive health care for Third World women.

President Bush and his pals seem to be working hard to Talibanize our country.

They have evidently forgotten the wisdom of our founders such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who recognized the dangers of mixing religion and government.

Edd Doerr

Silver Spring

The writer is president of Americans for Religious Liberty.

Community colleges' transfer role wanes

Michael Hill is correct that community colleges are becoming increasingly important because of their job training and vocational role ("Stepping stone," March 20). However, we are concerned that the transfer role of these two-year institutions is being de-emphasized, especially at the colleges serving the least-privileged students.

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