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Letters to the Editor 

drill for national security

To the Editor:

In her Oct. 16 article titled "Drilling the Point Home" (whatever that means), Eileen Loh-Harrist quotes Jen Brock of the Alaska Wilderness League as saying "Some politicians are using the tragedies (Sept.11) to propagate their agenda." I would say to Ms. Brock that this isn't an "agenda," but an absolute necessity for our national security.

It is fine to explore alternative energy sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But there cannot be enough of such alternatives for at least 20 years. How many 200-feet-tall and 200-feet-wide blades on windmills, which are bird crunchers and have to be connected by roads, does Ms. Brock want in pristine areas of the West?

So her organization and others toured Louisiana with a Gwich'in Indian and an Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) tour guide. So what? What about the Inupiat Indians who live on the coastal plain and who support drilling to revive their meager economy? What about the 75 percent of Alaskans who favor drilling? The Gwich'ins say they are worried about the caribou herd. Have they been told that the caribou herd near Prudhoe Bay is now several times the size it was before the drilling and production took place there? And new technology will allow the drillers to use much less area than at Prudhoe Bay.

Unfortunately, some of the same radical environmentalists that said the caribou herd at Prudhoe Bay would be decimated are at it again, spreading disinformation as part of their "no drill anywhere" agenda. Our national security makes it absolutely necessary that we not let these extremists delay us in capturing as much of our own oil and natural gas as possible until new sources of energy can be developed at affordable prices. The 15,000 jobs for Louisianians resulting from drilling and production on a tiny portion of ANWR -- not in the mountainous scenery 150 miles south, which is an arctic desert -- is reason enough for our senators to support the commencement of sales and drilling at once.

Wayne Blankenship Jr.


A MATTER OF EQUALITY

To the Editor:

Ms. Ball's argument that contraceptive coverage should be excluded from health insurance coverage because contraceptives are preventive medicine ("Letters", Oct. 30) has already been rejected by federal tribunals in the case of employer-sponsored insurance plans. She ought to read the EEOC decision at www.eeoc.gov/docs/decision-contraception.html. Ultimately, prescription contraception coverage is an issue not simply of preventing pregnancy, but of preventing inequality. If a woman can decide when she becomes pregnant, she is far less likely to suffer the economic and social penalties of women who are not afforded this decision. Prescription birth control is currently the most reliable way to give women this control.

As to the "pregnancy is natural, not an illness" argument, what is even more natural is the desire of humans to use knowledge and technology to manage nature so that we can better form our personal, social, intellectual and economic life. To let unfettered biology dictate destiny is to sacrifice our free will.

In her article, Eileen Loh-Harrist presents Gil Dupre's argument that not every insured person is entitled to every health benefit out there. Women make up 51 percent of the population, and with the bulk of data and legal opinion supporting the assertion that women who can control their fertility are more able to participate equally in society than those who cannot, then, yes, every insured woman is entitled to this particular health benefit. His main argument -- states should not mandate coverage lest costs get out of control and insurance companies not be able to survive in Louisiana -- is irresponsible because: 1) he denigrates the term "mandated procedures," a term which simply refers to standards the state of Louisiana expects insurance companies to meet and 2) he lumps $2-per-month contraceptives together with extremely expensive procedures such as in-vitro fertilization. Dupre is using Louisiana's tension with providing prescription contraception coverage to help his battle against all mandated procedures, rather than providing a clear explanation of why, exactly, birth control coverage should not be mandated. The reality, as Loh-Harrist's article points out, is that providing contraception coverage is relatively inexpensive and is actually a wise business decision for companies.

Lastly, David Hamilton's argument, that contributing to a company plan that paid for contraceptive coverage would violate his religious beliefs, simply is not a rational argument for denying the majority of Louisianians basic health coverage. Hamilton must find a way to bear his own cross rather than hoisting it on the backs of Louisiana women.

Sarah Edell


AN IRRELEVANT HEADLINE

To the Editor:

I would like to thank you for Ronnie Virgets' column of Oct. 23, "A Search for Meaning." It was hilarious. I broke down laughing at the Short Attention Span joke and had to clear tears from my eyes to keep going. Normally I don't read Virgets' columns, due to the fact they rarely sound relevant to me.

I'll have to look beyond the title in the future.

Mark McCandless

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