Letter on contraception and teens played fast and loose with the facts
As a physician assistant with over 32 years’ experience in women’s health, including 10 with Planned Parenthood, I had to respond to the Nov. 8 letter [“Gov’t shouldn’t push contraceptives on teens”], which used broad statements to mislead readers about contraceptive use by teenagers.
The letter argued against easier access to contraception: “Contraceptives are offered free through the national health system in England, and they have the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe.” What that statement left out is that the teen birthrate in England is still half that of the United States (2.2 percent vs. 5.4 percent), and that the rate in other European nations with national health care and free contraceptives is even lower.
You cannot conclude that free contraceptives lead to higher teen pregnancy rates.
The writer’s claim that access to contraception increases both sexual activity and teen pregnancy is simply false. The Centers for Disease Control recently reported a national decrease in the teen pregnancy rate in 2009-2010. Its research found no change in teen sexual behavior and a decrease in the number of abortions.
According to the CDC, the primary cause of the decrease in pregnancies was increased use of contraception by teens.
The statement that “the World Health Organization [WHO] classified the combined estrogen-progestin birth control pill as the highest class of carcinogen” was a manipulation. What was actually published by the WHO in 2005 was this: “the use of COCs [combined oral contraceptive] modifies slightly the risk of cancer, increasing it in some sites (cervix, breast, liver), decreasing it in others (endometrium, ovary).
Some of these data refer to older, higher-dose COC preparations. Assessments based on risk-benefit calculations are carried out by different teams within WHO — and they have determined that for most healthy women, the health benefits clearly exceed the health risks.
The arguments made by this anti-contraception letter writer are examples of how someone with an agenda ignores and even contradicts published science. We must all continue to be objective and make informed decisions about our health and well-being.
Raising U.S. gas tax would be too painful
Re Nov. 26 editorial, “After 20 years, it’s about time to raise the federal gas tax”: Don’t we pay enough state tax on gas, which is already astronomically [expensive], and doesn’t this tax help pay for [road] improvements?
What about those who do not drive or cannot afford a car? Where will this leave them, [those] who must take a high-priced cab because the fare just shot up to meet the federal gas tax? Or for those who work a ways off and get only minimum wage and no local, state or federal aid to help them?
Or what about the price of everyday things going sky-high because of the extra cost of gas? You know, the important things — such as food.
Blown call and a missed opportunity in NFL game
An incredible opportunity appeared during the traditional Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving Day football game, against the Houston Texans.
With six minutes left in the third quarter, around the same time that many families sat down for an afternoon dinner, Houston running back Justin Forsett ran for an apparent seven yard gain. The referee never blew his whistle to end the play so Forsett rose off his elbows and knees to run for a touchdown which changed the ultimate outcome of the game.
To all players, coaches and spectators, the play was an obvious mistake by the officials that would likely have been corrected if not for a technicality in the challenge process. The (mis)play stood.
The Houston team had a rare opportunity to demonstrate a historic act of sportsmanship: it could have allowed the Lions to score a free extra touchdown on the next play, thus resetting the game back to its place before the officiating error.
If the Texans had offered this simple act of sportsmanship, the Thanksgiving crowd at Ford Field would have risen in a long standing ovation; football analysts and news anchors would have talked about it for weeks; and folks around the dinner table or TV would have been moved toward a discussion about the power of fairness, thoughtfulness and thanksgiving. Yet this great gesture of sportsmanship never happened and probably never even crossed the minds of the Texans’ coaches or players.
What does this say about the values promoted by professional sports and America in general? NFL football is a pure symbol of America. It is a simulated war game, where sophisticated corporations battle for turf within a highly legal structure.
To many other cultures, American football is a complete bore, yet for us it symbolizes our soul. Football reflects our cultural reliance on legislation and governance to keep the game “fair,” rather than the morality of individuals and teams. It often rewards the most aggressive. It ultimately values winning by any means, well above how the game is played.
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