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Letter: Deliberate Falsehoods in Health Care Debate

To the Editor:

When I saw the letter "Questioning the War on Women," [Connection, August 15-21, 2012] I had that Yogi Berra feeling of "deja vu all over again" because I had read the same letter in a July edition of your paper. A second reading did not improve the contents or make them any more accurate.

Though the letter is replete with inaccuracies, one in particular stands out and demands a response. As a leader with the non-partisan Prevent Cancer Foundation, I was appalled to read the allegation linking abortions and contraception to an increased chance of getting cancer. These kinds of scare tactics and deliberate falsehoods are dangerous and as inimical to the public interest as Congressman Akin's recent assertion that a woman won't get pregnant if she is a victim of "legitimate rape." Medical misinformation on this scale deliberately victimizes vulnerable people with both lies and intimidation.

Ms. Burke may "believe it or not" but most women expect to make their own health care decisions in consultation with their doctors, and they do not wish their government to obstruct access to those decisions. Among the options that they expect to have available is the right to contraception, whether directly provided by an employer or through an insurance mechanism such as an exchange. Regardless of how they feel personally about abortion, they expect to make their own decisions in consultation with their doctor on the need for an ultrasound. They know that conveying full rights to a zygote ignores some basic facts about physiology, let alone the implications for criminalizing the health care prescriptions their physicians might recommend.

Call it what you will, but if government presumes to dictate or otherwise proscribe a person's own personal health care decisions, that is wholesale disenfranchisement and a greater threat to the freedoms Ms. Burke seems to cherish so much. I suspect she is among the many who would be willing to deny women the right to make their own decisions while demanding that we "get government out of our health care."

Let's call an end to these false protestations of trying to protect women while patronizing them with misinformation, disenfranchising them in the name of health and safety, and then wrapping it all in the banner of liberty. The majority of Virginians, especially northern Virginians, aren't buying it.

Margaret Vanderhye

McLean

Vanderhye recently completed two terms as vice chairman of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a national organization based in Alexandria, Va. and dedicated to cancer research, prevention and early detection. Their motto is "Stop Cancer Before it Starts."