Magic Bullets, Dangerous Shields

Katha Pollitt’s clarion essay [“Magic-Bullet Birth Control,” June 8] is a stark indictment of male politicians who want to make pregnancy irreversible. Their fetal protectionism imposes sectarian religious doctrine on our “free” country, denying women—mostly poor—a choice. Nations that do better in maternal and child health allow safe abortion as an option, while promoting contraception. Conservatives also oppose end-of-life choice, reflecting the religious tenet—starting with Adam and Eve—that human will is evil. As with the fetus, we sanctify patients in permanent vegetative states, such as Terri Schiavo.
E. James Lieberman, md
potomac, md.

I had an immediate, visceral reaction to Katha Pollitt’s column. I am a victim of the Dalkon Shield and have almost died twice, had two surgeries, and was hospitalized an additional four times because of severe pelvic inflammatory disease resulting from the IUD. I have learned never to put anything in my body unless it is proved to be safe and there are no other options.

On the other hand, good for Colorado. Its experimental program’s results are superior and a “no-brainer.” I am disgusted, but not surprised, that shortsighted, fact-ignoring zealots have squashed the program’s expansion. I wonder how these people would react if they were required to be emotionally and financially responsible for the “unborn children” who’d result from essentially outlawing birth control—birth control that reduces teen pregnancy and abortion. How silly of me to apply logic!

I am no longer in my childbearing years and have not kept up-to-date on the safety of newer IUDs. I simply wanted to raise a cautionary flag. Please, just be sure that these young women enjoy the benefits of the IUD and none of the health- and life-threatening issues that users of the Dalkon Shield were subject to.

Susan C. Lapekas
knoxville, tenn.

All About the Benjamins

Tsk, tsk. Shame on The Nation for such an inapt choice of denomination for the head of the bought-and-paid-for politician on the June 8 cover [the image refers to Ari Berman’s “How the Wealth Primary Is Undermining Voting Rights”]. Surely that should be the $100 bill’s Benjamin Franklin from the neck up, not the twenty’s Andrew Jackson.
Joel Solonche
blooming grove, n.y.

Luxury U.

With regard to Michelle Goldberg’s “The Gentrification of Higher Ed” [June 8]: I just finished putting a child through Arizona State University in Tempe. I can vouch for the fact that it is not as “nearly free as possible.” We had no scholarships and paid cash for all four years. Not only did the tuition increase every year my son attended, but the additional fees were killers. These were fees to help the general population—nothing in which my kid participated, but they were required nonetheless. What a money pit!
Anchor no 2

No Country for Old Bridges

I was stunned by the shameful behavior of House Speaker John Boehner in response to questions regarding the May 12 Amtrak derailment, discussed in John Nichols’s excellent comment “Our Derailed Infrastructure” [June 8]. Boehner knows full well that this is just another symptom of an infrastructure system failing from old age, poor funding, and what appears to be an intentional effort to underfund and eventually privatize these assets.

Everything is broken: our roads, water systems, bridges, air traffic control, schools. But nothing is more broken than the attitude our Congress displays toward the things that keep our society connected and moving. For all the talk of the need for domestic manufacturing jobs, none can be more beneficial than remanufacturing our own infrastructure. We must rebuild the things that made this country great—roads, the electrical grid, bridges, and levees—as well as upgrade our telecommunications and air traffic control systems.

In Washington, the greatest fear seems to be losing an election. But many Americans find themselves living in fear of far more serious consequences, because too many of us lack reliable public transportation and drive on roads and bridges that are overcrowded and beyond their service life. Many of us rely on water systems that are one chemical spill away from being toxic. We should all be mindful of the collateral damage that is coming our way if we don’t get our infrastructure fixed soon.

Manny G. Gomez
henderson, nev.

Blame Canada

Michael Moore is a serious and seriously funny man, but he needs a refresher course in modern Canada, which he keeps using as a sort of Peaceable Kingdom [most recently in “Michael Moore for President,” in the April 6 issue]. Since 2006, when Stephen Harper’s Conservatives began to rule us, we have gone backward, from a passably liberal place to a reactionary sidekick of GOP Amerika. Harper, a member of the fundamentalist Alliance Church, believes in the Rapture but not in climate change; in private enterprise but not in the CBC, whose budget he keeps cutting; in Likudist Israel (we are its “best friend”) but not in gun control (he has dismantled our long-gun registry and had its records destroyed). He has gutted our Fisheries Act, Environmental Assessment process, Navigable Waters Protection Act, and the Canada Health Accord. He pushed through ratification of the secretive Canada-China FIPA, had the Canada Revenue Agency launch audits of charities opposed to his policies, and has muzzled government scientists from speaking inconvenient truths. As The Nation reported [September 29, 2014], his Conservatives have bullied our First Nations tribes, whose annual support payments now depend on their accepting reduced rights, and censured the only doctor up in Fort Chipewyan for saying that the high rate of rare cancers there were related to tar-sands pollution. If Harper is reelected this fall, there soon may not be much left for Moore to tell fables about.
Richard Bevis
vancouver, british columbia

Correction

In “Ecuador’s Battle for Environmental Justice Against Chevron,” by James North (June 22/29), the New York court testimony of Alberto Guerra, described in the last full paragraph of the right column on page 23, was garbled. It should have stated that Guerra testified that lawyers Donziger and Fajardo had agreed to pay a $500,000 bribe to let them ghostwrite the Ecuadoran trial judge’s final opinion.