Letters for the week of July 13-19, 2005 

The Pill is not "as safe as aspirin," and you do your readers a disservice by saying it is.

"Carnivorism Made Easy," On Food, 6/8

Flesh-eating lunatic responds
While I feel everyone is entitled to print opinions, insights, and visions, I feel Jonathan was off on a few points in his article. If one does not like the taste or texture of a food, that's fine; say so. But Jonathan published something that wasn't true. I published my opinion on his view at Meathenge.com. Please go read my rebuttal; I'm not a raving lunatic. Okay, so I am a lunatic, but I have something of worth here.

If he or anyone at your office doesn't believe Fatted Calf's products can be successfully grilled or smoked, I am willing to host a get-together for you and your office to give a demonstration on how to build a cooking fire and cook meat correctly.

However, if I am to offer up my facilities and time, I ask that people bring something as well: Challenge me. We're a one-paycheck family and we're home-schooling our two boys; I cannot afford to flip the bill for your office. In short, I think Jonathan needs to be more thoughtful in his reviews and I'm willing to stand up and go toe-to-toe in any arena.
Guy Prince, Richmond, aka Dr.Biggles@Meathenge.com

"Free the Pill," Feature, 6/22

Free the truth
Thank you for running Kara Platoni's thoughtful and well-balanced article. What was most disturbing about her report was that in their efforts to counteract the lies and exaggeration of pill opponents, pro-choice advocates seem to be spewing just as many lies and exaggerations of their own, and that's dangerous to women's health.

The Pill is not "as safe as aspirin." Different brands of the Pill have different concentrations of different hormones; the difference between them is not like the difference between generic and name-brand ibuprofen. The Pill should not be used by some women at all. And does anyone really think that a girl who believes Mountain Dew is a contraceptive ("Protecting the Birds from the Bees," City of Warts, 6/22) will carefully read the list of side effects and cautions in an over-the-counter Pill package?

By all means, make it easier and safer for women to get the Pill. Get rid of pelvic exams and substitute a pregnancy test and a basic physical examination. But don't put women's lives at risk by pretending the Pill is safe and universal enough to sell over the counter.
Laurel Halbany, Novato

Free the story
Kara Platoni's article was the best piece I've seen on the subject. It was informed, even-handed, and lucidly presented, and should be read by everyone.
Nancy Ward, Oakland/East Bay National Organization for Women, Berkeley

Free your minds
Was I the only one struck by the visual pun on the front page of your latest issue? Liberating the Pill sounds like a mighty fine idea. All of those raised fists look mighty ... um ... suggestive.
Matt Brockwell, Oakland

The sky hasn't fallen yet
Writer Kara Platoni, in her otherwise well-researched and well-written article, neglected to mention that a number of countries throughout the world do have deregulated hormonal birth control in pill form. Costa Rican pharmacists routinely give out the birth-control pill. Customers ask for what they want, or present an empty pack and are given another, no questions asked. That is not to say that this is the best method, since there is no consultation involved, but it does show that deregulation hasn't had any major, earth-shaking consequences. America has made a big to-do about providing women with over-the-counter hormonal birth control, while for others it is de rigueur. Not to mention that many Planned Parenthood centers will continue to provide hormonal birth control indefinitely after a single visit. Rather than address the science, people let themselves be swayed by moral, ethical, and pseudo-psycho arguments that ignore the fact that hormonal birth control is widely available, if you know where to look, and the sky hasn't fallen yet.
Christa Weber, Brighton, Massachusetts

Editor's note
The writer did, in fact, mention that Mexico and a handful of other countries already have over-the-counter birth control.

The letter of the law
Kara Platoni's well-researched "Free the Pill" states that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act defines "pregnancy as a fertilized egg." Not so. The law does not define pregnancy. It establishes that causing death or bodily injury to an "unborn child" during commission of a federal crime against a woman is a separate crime. For this purpose -- that's explicit in the law -- it defines "unborn child" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." Also explicit: The law does not apply to "conduct relating to" an abortion for which consent has been obtained or is "implied by law." It can't be used to prosecute any person for "any medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child." Nor can it be used to prosecute any woman "with respect to her unborn child." Prosecution would be difficult at best without an explicit definition of "unborn child" -- or a definition less sweeping than that above.
Leroy W. Demery Jr., Vallejo

Editor's note
The letter writer is correct that the law doesn't define pregnancy as "a fertilized egg." However, its definition of "unborn child" is vague enough that it could be argued to apply to a fertilized egg, which amounts to much the same thing.

Lyrics Born ("Born Identity," Feature, 7/6) was born in 1972, not 1971.


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