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Three Arkansas physicians are giving free abortions to pregnant women who are victims of the Katrina hurricane. They are the only three physicians in the state who are willing to perform abortions — William Harrison of Fayetteville and Jerry Edwards and Tom Tvedten of Little Rock. David Sanders, a columnist for Stephens Media newspapers in Arkansas, wrote about the doctors’ generosity last week. Considering that the price of abortions ranges from $400 to $1,800, this is quite a gift for women who have been struck by the worst disaster in the history of our country. Thousands of women in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have lost everything they had – their home, their job and some don’t even know where their families are. Women in that situation hardly need another child. Normally, Harrison, Edwards and Tvedten perform about 25 abortions a month. I talked to Harrison and Edwards last week, and they said at that point only seven women had qualified for the free abortions. One was a female soldier just returning from Iraq. Another was a student who enrolled in the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville because her college in New Orleans was shut down. The clinics’ offer of free abortions has had little publicity. Dr. Edwards said he notified the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about it, but the paper didn’t print a story. Edwards wasn’t surprised, he said, since that newspaper’s editorial writers are opposed to Roe v. Wade, the1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in the United States. However, on page nine in Sunday’s paper the Democrat-Gazette printed part of a very long story about abortion in America and the two Little Rock doctors that ran in last Sunday’s New York Times. The Times reporter and photographer who did the story were in Little Rock before the hurricane struck so the doctors’ free- abortion plan hadn’t been made. But the Times people saw the 74-year-old protester who daily holds up a sign that says “Abortion Kills” and takes video of every woman who goes to the Little Rock doctors’ building. The Times says that Arkansas once had one of the easiest, most liberal abortion laws in the country, but lately legislators have made the law tougher because so many people they represent don’t approve of abortion. Meanwhile, the number of abortions in the nation is falling; in 1990 there were 1,429,247 and there were only 861,789 in 1999. The causes are better contraception and more abstinence. More than half of the women who get abortions already have children and don’t want more. And there will be fewer if the government allows women to buy the so-called morning-after pill at drug stores without doctors’ prescriptions. It was all set to take effect in August until the director of the Food and Drug Administration called for a delay. He said he needed to hear from more citizens. The idea is to get the evangelicals to make a lot of noise to pressure the Senate to vote for the two new judges the Bush administration wants to be on the Supreme Court.. Lots of us are sometime critical about Wal-Mart because it pays low salaries, refuses unions and puts hometown stores out of business. But we have to appreciate that Wal-Mart sells quality merchandise day and night at prices that almost anyone can afford. Two days after Katrina was classified as a storm, Wal-Mart’s officials were in their emergency command center planning how they could keep their 126 stores (12 in the New Orleans area) along the Gulf open and selling what people needed. Hours after the hurricane hit – days before the Federal Emergency Management Agency knew what had happened — dozens of Wal-Mart trucks were on the highways taking bottled water, dry ice and generators to their stores so people could get food, clothes, flashlights,etc. Thousands of people lined up to get to the only stores operating. So far Wal Mart has given more than $20 million in cash and $3 million worth of merchandise — diapers, toothbrushes, etc. — to help the people suffering from the hurricane. Arkansans should be proud to be the home of Wal-Mart.
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