Open letter to Rick Crawford 

Open letter to U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford

First of all, I find it rather telling that the only health or women's concern that you have an issue category for on your contact page is abortion. That says a lot about your focus.

I wrote you before about HR 1797, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which I realize passed the House, and which is probably unconstitutional, given that finding about multiple state bills that have come before the courts. Your answer to me contained the following paragraph, and I want to address this.

"While I appreciate and respect your point of view, I recognize the importance of all life. I believe it is vital that we protect the lives of unborn children who cannot protect themselves. Every American needs to be reminded that at the center of our struggle is the protection of all human life. We cannot live in a nation where some human life is valued and other life is not.

"HR 1797 does provide an exception where necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury. There is also an exception for cases of pregnancies from rape or incest if reported to the appropriate law enforcement or government authorities. This bill will stop future situations like that of the Kermit Gosnell case."

Sir, it is your opinion that a fetus is a child. Not everyone shares that opinion. Not everyone shares your religious viewpoint, not even all other Christians. Religious viewpoints are well and good as guides for living your own life. They are not so good for writing legislation that affects millions of people who believe differently. You are not legislating just for Arkansas, where many share your views, but the whole nation, where, frankly, the majority do not.

And if all life is sacred and precious, when can we expect you and your fellow pro-life representatives to introduce a bill to ban capital punishment nationally? Given the number of people — living, breathing, fully conscious people — who have been exonerated of the crimes that put them on death row, wouldn't this be even more important?

And if all life is sacred and precious, why do so many of you conservative legislators wish to cut the safety net for children who are already born and living hungry and/or homeless? Or cut the safety net for us older Americans, for that matter? What do you think Jesus would think about the way "the least of these" are treated in America today? Wouldn't feeding them now, and working on jobs, like you all promised, be more productive? Getting people back to work at jobs that pay a living wage would do more to take care of children than trying to legislate women's health care.

If we are to value all life and not just fetuses, then the above questions deserve to be considered.

As to Kermit Gosnell, you are wrong. You were a toddler when Roe was settled. I was a young woman, and I remember pre-Roe. Gosnell is a quack and an evil man, but cutting off access to legal abortions will not put an end to his ilk — it will increase their numbers exponentially. Because when abortion is illegal, women still get abortions, and people like Gosnell are the only alternative. Many desperate women died before Roe, and many more will die as access is cut off to abortion.

I am not "pro-abortion." I don't think many people are. But the best answer is better availability of birth control — free for women who need it. This is not the place for religious arguments. Religious freedom is being invoked to shepherd in all kinds of sectarian legislation. Women's health care is not negotiable. It is between her and her doctor, not her and Congress. And those of us who understand this will never rest.

Char Leverette

Evening Shade

From the web

In response to our reporting on the Arkansas Blog on the mistrial in the manslaughter trial of former Little Rock Police Department officer Josh Hastings:

Having had the opportunity to serve on several juries over the years, both criminal and civil, I learned that even if you are in the courtroom when all the evidence is presented, the picture is not always crystal clear. To rely on newspaper or blog accounts of what was said in the courtroom is so inadequate as to be laughable for those who think they can render judgment in absentia. Only the folks in that courtroom who heard all the evidence can search their souls and decide what they believe happened — and they may still reach a wrong conclusion.

But we know this — for good reason all law enforcement agencies have very specific rules regarding when deadly force can be used. That's why officers undergo rigorous training. The question here is whether or not Josh Hastings violated LRPD policy in his use of deadly force. If he did and since someone lost his life (the quality or direction of that life is irrelevant), Hastings must be held accountable just as you or I would be if we violated the law.

The evidence may show Hastings had no other choice than to fire to save his own life — a justifiable shooting. Or the evidence may show he shot when he had one or more other, legal options — an unjustifiable shooting. It appears 10 of 12 jurors felt Hastings had options other than firing his weapon.

Law enforcement officers are not beyond the law in America.

Sound Policy

In response to the cover story, "Exploring Big Island, where three rives meet," by Chris Staudinger, Mark Peoples and John Ruskey (June 20):

A beautifully written article about a fabulous program! The Mississippi River is one of our greatest national treasures and one of the most misunderstood. Thank you for this work to show children and adults a bit of the river's magic. I am a travel photographer and writer who had the immense pleasure of making a 90-day road trip following the great river from the headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico (90 days because that is how long it takes a single drop of water to travel that distance). I met John Ruskey while in Clarksdale and saw immediately what a good friend he is to the river.

Gayle Harper

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