Making teens criminals 

Both the House and the Senate have passed another selfish and intrusive bill, but people like Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Hillary Clinton of New York and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas are trying to keep it from becoming a law. The bill would make a teen-ager a criminal for traveling to another state to get an abortion without telling Mama and Daddy. The penalty would be either a fine of $100,000 or one year in jail.

Naturally, the Republicans, fearful of not being re-elected because so many people are unhappy about the “pre-emptive” war the Republican president embarked on, want to get the votes of the somber evangelicals come November. Of course, 14 Democrats also voted yes Tuesday, including Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who is a member of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock.

And if the editorial writers at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had been senators Tuesday, they, too, would surely have voted yes because they came up with a lengthy editorial Sunday that all but said that nobody should ever have an abortion.

It’s surprising that several states already have such a law. But Arkansas should be proud that our legislature hasn’t tried to pass such a thing. Arkansas has three physicians — one in Fayetteville and two in Little Rock — who openly announce that they might give abortions, but I bet there might be a few doctors in some of our other towns who would quietly do the procedure.

And what’s terrible about that? Should the 21st century United States jail a young girl or woman who gets an abortion because she was raped, or was not careful one time during intercourse, or didn’t know she had an illness that would endanger her if she became pregnant, or doesn’t have the money or ability to raise a child?

Parents usually don’t want their young, unmarried daughters to get pregnant and have babies. Yet we know that some parents would never accompany their young, unmarried pregnant daughters to get an abortion. Does that mean that families will lovingly accept pregnant daughters who do go on to deliver their babies? And will they accept those out-of-wedlock babies?

Isn’t it possible that permitting girls to obtain abortions without telling their parents might actually help keep families together?

Politicians simply don’t realize how different today’s young people are. For example, only 3.2 percent of married Americans received divorces in the year 1970. But in the year 2000, 9.8 percent of married Americans divorced, and that figure isn’t exact because so many couples divorced in California and four other states that officials stopped reporting the numbers to the National Center of Health Statistics.

We have 130,000 American soldiers in Iraq, and 4,000 of them were to come home this month. But now they have been ordered to spend at least another six months in Baghdad, the capital of a country that thousands of its own citizens are fleeing because of the violence there. As of last week, 2,564 American soldiers have been killed there.

But the hawks surrounding President Bush are maintaining their influence, and the Iraq war has already exceeded the time Americans fought in World War I and the Korean war.

The best solution I’ve seen to ending the war in Iraq appeared in an article in last week’s New York Times written by Peter W. Galbraith, a former and greatly admired United States ambassador. He wrote that Iraq should be divided into three separate countries: for Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

Iraq didn’t assume its current national borders until 1921. When Saddam Hussein took power in 1979, he began repressing the Kurds and Shiites, who wanted independence. In 1998, he used poison gas to kill 5,000 Kurds.

Galbraith wrote that Shiites in the southern half of Iraq had created their own theocracies, policed by 100,000 men, and that they wanted no outsiders, especially soldiers. Kurdistan, Galbraith said, is very independent, keeping out Iraqi soldiers and prohibiting the flying of the Iraqi flag. In January 2005, nearly every Kurd voted to form an independent Kurdish nation. The millions in and around Baghdad aren’t safe unless they’re lucky enough to gain entry into the American-protected Green Zone, where the 4,000 American soldiers are now being moved.

Unfortunately, so far neither the White House nor Congress has said anything about dividing up Iraq.

Incidentally, President Bush has now withdrawn from Afghanistan the special unit of American soldiers who were specially charged to find Osama bin Laden, the man who four years and 11 months ago started all this by sending airplanes to blow up buildings in New York and Washington, killing 3,000 innocent Americans.



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