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Dr. Elders' Confirmation

August 02, 1993

* Dr. Joycelyn Elders' support of school-based health clinics is both farsighted and fiscally responsible. Students accessing clinic services receive the care they desperately need and return to their classrooms with minimum time away from their studies, enhancing their opportunities for educational advancement.

Those who oppose Elders' appointment as surgeon general frequently argue that her support of school-based health clinic services increases the risk of teen sexuality and pregnancy. These assertions are not borne out by the facts.

First, the vast majority of visits to school-based clinics around the nation are for primary medical care--and the need continues to grow. At the three Los Angeles Unified School District school-based health clinics, fully 93% of registered patients have no other source of regular health care, because they are under- or completely uninsured.

Second, there is no evidence that the presence of school-based health clinics increases sexual activity among students. What we do know is that, despite our emphasis on abstinence, some students still become sexually active. Elders' advocacy of appropriate contraceptive services recognizes that it is impossible to dictate sexual behavior. Her commitment to the prevention of teen pregnancy will be a powerful weapon in preventing abortion among our nation's young women.

MARSHA CHARNEY, President

Student Health Service Support Fund

Los Angeles

* Your article on Elders' health views (July 24) appeared to "glorify" her statement: "I have seen bright young people all over this country in an ocean surrounded by the sharks of alcohol, violence, homicide, suicide, AIDS and teen-age pregnancy--while we argue about values."

I cannot agree to her advocacy that "the best place we've got are the schools." They've got their own problems. Whatever happened to the home, and our parents' value guidance? In my opinion all of the "sharks" she refers to are, as a matter of fact, the result of the decline of this country's moral and political values.

To paraphrase a recent campaign slogan, "It is the values, stupid!"

JOHN HOLT

La Canada

* In response to "Elders Is an Insult to People of Faith," Column Right, July 25:

As a professor of philosophy at Catholic University of America, Patrick Riley should know better than most that people of faith hold varying viewpoints on everything from dietary restrictions to abortion. He affronts the majority of people of faith by insinuating that Elders is a "pagan." Surely he knows, as most anyone who has followed Elders' career knows, she is a United Methodist. Yes, Mr. Riley, United Methodists are Christians too.

As a United Methodist, I can vouch for the frustration that is felt by people of faith who are not Catholic or fundamentalists (or even Christian), when we are continually subjected to laws and public policy which narrowly reflect the faith of a few to the detriment of the rest of us. I am referring to the arcane attitudes toward sex education, contraception and the restricting of reproductive rights.

BUNNIE RIEDEL

La Puente

* Riley's column is a classic example of the flawed analysis of conservative Roman Catholic thinkers who decry criticism of their church.

In a society that separates church and state and that also permits free speech, purveyors of religious dogma cannot expect to enjoy some special exemption from criticism and even ridicule for their belief systems.

If the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church attempts to actually abolish a woman's right to safe and legal abortion, those of us who want such freedoms to persist have every right to criticize both the church and its very philosophical underpinnings.

The Senate should confirm Elders.

EDWARD TABASH

Beverly Hills

* Every American should have listened to the C-Span hearings to understand the level of incompetence presidential appointments have reached. For Elders to hold the same office and be associated with C. Everett Koop should be an embarrassment to all Americans and a dishonor to Koop. Surgeon general? National health care chief? Official condom inspector? This person couldn't even get a bedtime story right.

With the real health problems this country has, we need a real leader in that slot, not a master of confusion.

BOB FORSBERG

Lake Forest

Gays in Military

If President Clinton were serving in the military under his new anti-gay policy, he could be discharged for hugging Vice President Gore.

CHARLES McKAIN

San Diego

Space Exploration

* The column "We Need to Reach for the Stars" (Commentary, July 20) contained several startling paragraphs: "In the past, wars provided such a unifying structure. Today, we cannot afford war simply to provide unity. Other might propose more 'politically correct' projects as candidates for a unifying force, such as cleaning the environment, curing poverty or saving the whales . . . The problem with such proposals is that they are inevitably tainted with leftist politics, hidden agendas and dubious prospects for success."

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