Letters to the Editor

Readers write about why US foreign-aid is vital in the global fight against disease, the middle ground between doctors' and patients' rights, and why talking to Hamas may not be a good idea.

US foreign-aid is vital to combating deadly diseases around the world

In regard to the March 23 article "Economy forces Obama to rein in foreign-aid goals": I'm discouraged to hear that this administration may be unable to meet its foreign aid goals. If that happens, it will frustrate international campaigns to combat diseases such as malaria, which present major challenges to global health.

Malaria is preventable and treatable; it has been virtually eradicated from much of Asia, Europe, and the Americas, yet the disease still kills more than a million people every year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, efforts to prevent and treat malaria consume substantial portions of government and household budgets in many endemic countries, costing billions of dollars, thus impeding socioeconomic development.

If indeed it is imperative that we improve the perception of the US abroad and address global health and development, then health crises like malaria are opportunities for us to do so. In fact, we ought to be at the forefront of efforts to improve global welfare.

Barbara Itotia
College Station, Texas

There is ample middle ground between patient rights and doctor's conscience

Regarding the March 26 article, "Obama weighs patient rights vs. doctor's conscience": In this article the Monitor presents a false choice between the "freedom of conscience for healthcare workers and unfettered access to healthcare, especially reproductive services." There is ample middle ground between those two scenarios to meet the needs of healthcare workers and of those who seek care.

The goal of any reasonable conscience clause must be to strike the right balance between the right of healthcare professionals to provide care that is in line with their moral and religious beliefs and the right of patients to have access to the medical care they need. So, when a pharmacist refuses to fill prescriptions for contraception, they are negating the right to conscience of the woman, or man, standing in front of them. This does not fall under anybody's definition of what a good conscience is.

Jon O'Brien

President, Catholics for Choice

Washington, DC

Hamas is not interested in peace

In regard to the March 30 Opinion piece, "What it means to talk with Hamas": In this commentary, author Ben White misses a number of critical points about Hamas.

First, he ignores the fact that Hamas has repeatedly, publicly, and emphatically stated that it has no interest in a permanent peace with Israel. Second, although he acknowledges that the Hamas charter is anti-Semitic, he fails to recognize that Hamas regularly uses both their media and the mosques to espouse anti-Semitism. Hamas is not, as Mr. White calls it, "a social and political movement," but rather a violent religious terrorist group that has never expressed any true interest in peace.

Jason Levinson
Houston

Ben White's piece concerning what it means to talk with Hamas inaccurately assumes that a terrorist group plays by the same rules as everyone else. If one were to listen to Hamas's rhetoric, or that of any such group, such as Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, one would notice consistent threats of the total annihilation of its enemies.

The West in general does not make such threats, nor does it conduct war using "scorched earth" tactics. Moreover, Western public opinion shackles Israel against dealing with Hamas in a language that is unambiguous in the Middle East.

One can fool oneself into thinking that a strategy isn't working, but if the strategy isn't being implemented, that's why it's not working.

Desmond Tuck
San Mateo, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must include your full name; your city, state, and country; and your telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear on our website, www.CSMonitor.com, or in our weekly print edition. E-mail letters to oped@csps.com. Or mail letters to Readers Write, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

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