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Letter: ‘Deliberate Falsehoods’ - II

To the Editor:

Margaret Vanderhye's response "Deliberate Falsehoods in Health Care Debate," [Connection, Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2012] to my letter "Questioning the War on Women," [Connection, Aug. 15-21] unfortunately illustrates my point perfectly. My letter argued that it was unfair to characterize those who oppose the HHS mandate as conducting a war on women. Her answer to that point was to conduct a war on me, accusing me of spreading "deliberate falsehoods" and using "scare tactics" that are "inimical to the public interest." She even compares my words to those of Congressman Akin. For the remainder of her letter she attacks a straw man, imagining that because I oppose the HHS mandate, I must want the government to come between a woman and her doctor. Ms. Vanderhye never addresses my argument, that when government forces employers to violate their consciences by subsidizing contraception and abortion, religious freedom is trampled.

Though she claims my letter is "replete with inaccuracies," she addresses only one alleged "falsehood" and leaves the rest to our imaginations. Ms. Vanderhye attacks as false the statement that research suggests that contraception and abortion may increase a woman's chance of cancer and heart disease. Actually the statement is true, Ms. Vanderhye's vitriolic tirade notwithstanding. For example, the National Cancer Institute, the Mayo Clinic, and universities including Michigan and Harvard all acknowledge studies showing these risks of oral contraceptives. The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute has compiled a fact sheet listing dozens of studies finding that both oral contraceptives and abortion may increase cancer risk. I did not suggest—as she implicitly does—that the science is settled. But while not everyone accepts the findings of these studies, few people have the audacity to suggest that the research does not exist. To attempt to silence the mention of such research with inflammatory rhetoric is both irresponsible and frightening. In any case, an employer who objects to providing contraception and abortion is not attempting to deny healthcare, but rather choices that come with their own risks.

In the rest of her letter Ms. Vanderhye takes on the straw man, her illogical conclusion that, by opposing the HHS mandate, I would like the government to "dictate...a person's own personal health care decisions." Once again she makes my case for me—by twisting my words beyond recognition in order to demonize me for daring to oppose not freedom, but a mandate. The HHS mandate forces an employer to provide contraception and abortifacient drugs to their employees. These products are currently easily accessible, but before the HHS mandate the government did not force employers to provide them. Ms. Vanderhye denounces me because I suggested that this forced arrangement is wrong, unfair and unconstitutional. When the provision of a product or service impinges on the religious freedom of those forced to provide, the responsible citizen should take note and object. Ms. Vanderhye's heated rhetoric obfuscates the issue at hand and unfortunately serves only to further divide.

Laura Burke

Great Falls