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Mail and Commentary March 21, 2012

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"Republicans: tirelessly working to reduce the size of big gub'mint. And they won't stop until it fits into a uterus."

--Mark Middleton (Boiseweekly.com, Citydesk, "Monday at the Statehouse: Monty Pearce's Ethics and Ultrasound Bill," March 18, 2012)

Stop the Abortion Ultrasound Bill

I attended the Senate Affairs Committee hearing on mandated ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion. While sitting through the two hours of testimony, I slipped into daydream imagining a similar mandate for women seeking to carry pregnancy to full term, so they, too, can give fully informed consent.

Don't stop with the ultrasound picture. Follow up with pictures of each successive developmental stage from birth to 18 (or 22 if college is desired). Also supply expense information for each stage from diapers to designer jeans. And don't forget information about the parental challenges at every stage, from a 2-year-old's temper tantrums to worrying about the 16-year-olds every time they're "out with friends."

My daydream stopped abruptly when the public testimony ended and the nine senators turned to decision-making time. With no discussion amongst themselves at all except for comments by the two Democrats raising questions and concerns, they proceeded to roll call vote. Seven to two in favor of the mandate and off to the Senate floor went the bill.

Thunk! The boulder of despair dropped ... again.

"That's it! I've had it! I'm tired of being on the losing team." My silent scream until the insidious thought: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Moments later I was carving out an idea for my future as a model red state citizen.

But before I tell you what that looks like, let me tell you a story about a woman named Eliza. She was born with Down syndrome. In her 40s, when Eliza's aging parents could no longer take care of her, her sister and brother-in-law took her in. Once settled in her new home, Eliza wanted to have her best friend Jamie come for a sleep over. They'd known each other since they were children and they were decidedly boyfriend and girlfriend.

Beset by questions of what they knew about "sex," Eliza's sister proceeded as best she could to arm Eliza with information about birth control. In truth, though, intercourse was not even close to being on Eliza and Jamie's radar. Theirs was the love of sweet innocence. Nevertheless, Eliza was always proud to announce that she was a woman, and she practiced "birth patrol."

That's it--the source of my future role in the rising tide of redness. I am going to launch the Birth Patrol Force. Its mission is to put sex in its proper place--for procreation alone.

Think of it. We will no longer need abortion laws--they will be obsolete. We will eliminate those unplanned or surprise pregnancies. Insurance policies will not have to pay for those unnecessary old-fashioned birth control pills and devices.

Then there's the economy-bolstering factor of creating hundreds, maybe thousands of new jobs in Idaho. After all, we'll need lots of Birth Patrol Officers 24/seven to burst into bedrooms and parked cars on lovers lane and well just about every place imaginable to accost anyone caught in the act. "Stop, in the name of the law! Do you have a permit stating this activity is for the express purpose of procreating?"

Yeah, I can see there's a fun and exciting future in red.

--Nadine York,Boise

It should be clarified that the ultrasound bill currently in the Legislature effectively requires the majority of women to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound, an uncomfortable and intrusive medical procedure, without medical justification. The bill claims to allow a woman and her physician to choose the best method of performing the required ultrasound.

However, such is not the case. The majority of women undergo the termination of a pregnancy between six and 12 weeks of pregnancy--the first trimester. Medically, this is the optimal time frame for the procedure resulting in the smallest odds of encountering complications. The current proposed legislation requires that the physician determine the gestational age of the fetus via ultrasound. Gestational age during the first trimester cannot be determined by a regular ultrasound but can only be determined by trans-vaginal ultrasound. So for any woman desiring a legal abortion during the first trimester, the trans-vaginal ultrasound is mandatory.

--Barbara Maxwell,Boise

Stop Stripping Local Authority

House Bill 464 provides legislative intent to occupy the field of the regulation of oil and gas exploration and production, to provide an exception and to provide provisions limiting local restrictions relating to oil and gas.

House Bill 464 gives the authority to the Oil and Gas Conservation commissioners ... it takes it away from the local county commissioners, who have always made land-use decisions. Why would you take away the rights of the local county commissioners?

Local county commissioners apply the Land Use Planning Act, which protects the health, safety and general welfare of the people of the state of Idaho. Local county commissioners all over Idaho protect property rights, make sure there are adequate public facilities to serve the population, protect the environment and prime agricultural land. They avoid undue concentration of population and overcrowding of land, protect fish, wildlife and recreation resources, avoid undue water and air pollution. Why take away the right to limit what an oil or gas company can do to the area they manage?

Why restrict their ability to protect the people who voted them into office? Why take ground water protection away from them? Why are you going to allow Class II injection wells by an industry that would inject toxic chemicals into the ground for storage or just to get rid of it? I do not believe that is why you were elected to serve as a senator. I believe that all voters would want you not to protect one industry that is wanting to come into Idaho but I believe the voters would want you to protect all the things the Land Use Planning Act mentions.

--Claudia Haynes,Nampa

Same Old Small Government Talk

Ah, yes. "Less government." Again.

Reading in this week's paper Anthony R. Benson's rather lengthy diatribe (BW, Mail, "Dear Bill Cope," March 14, 2012) railing against one of Bill Cope's equally lengthy diatribes (admittedly much-loved by people of the liberal ilk like me) regarding conservatives, I am stunned once more by the blind spot that I see repeated constantly by those who apparently feel that the capitalist system here is working just fine, thank you.

Each time I hear the Repubs and/or Tea Partiers going on about how much better it would be for us all if we had the "lowest level of governance possible," I think of the poor citizens of say, Denmark, and other countries who don't get to call themselves the Greatest Country on Earth.

Their "outrageously high level of governance" provides them with: medical benefits for all residents, free education, maternity leave, day care, job retraining, rent subsidies, rehabilitation care and care in old age. Their average work week is 35 hours. All wage earners get five weeks paid vacation a year.

Do they pay higher taxes? Yes. But look what they get. And everyone is covered.

What a concept. People cared for and educated by their own government ... instead of said government trying to subsidize and run the rest of the world.

Perhaps the problem is not whether a country has government programs, but what programs that government is supporting and whether the lawmakers in that country care enough about the welfare of its citizens to make them work.

--M. A. Wuebker,Hailey

Protect the Clearwater

A diverse group is gathered to protect North Central Idaho's Clearwater Basin, today and for future generations. The Clearwater Basin Collaborative exemplifies the best in modern land protection coalitions. In a CBC meeting, loggers sit next to conservationists who sit next to tribal members who sit next to political representatives who sit next to agency folks, and so on. It is a formidable group, doing formidable work. They've come together to create solutions amidst compromise, and to set direction, all in the name of economic and environmental well being for the region.

As an avid hiker, I applaud the CBC for working to permanently protect the most amazing and pristine places in the Clearwater Basin, while working to make sure that folks who recreate differently than I do also enjoy places designated for access.

Now is the time to protect the Clearwater Basin, and I am grateful for the CBC's efforts. It's important to me that one of the last best wild places receives protection, and that the region's wildlife, water and communities are safeguarded for future generations.

--Aimee Moran,Boise

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