As president of the Maine Osteopathic Association and a practicing emergency physician, I am writing to implore the Legislature to prevent cuts in funding to the Doctors for Maine’s Future Scholarship Program.

As Maine and the nation face a critical shortage of primary care physicians, it is imperative that we not be shortsighted. This program provides necessary financial assistance for Maine students who want to train to and eventually deliver health care in our state.

It takes at least seven years from the first day of medical school until completion of residency training. From a long-term perspective, cutting funding does not make any sense, given this scholarship program is matched dollar-for-dollar with private philanthropy, thus leveraging the state’s modest investment.

Over the past three decades, the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM) has developed a blueprint for educating and training primary care physicians that has proven highly successful.

As the No. 1 provider of physicians for our state, graduates of UNECOM account for greater than 15 percent of the primary care work force and nearly 27 percent of those providing rural medical care. In other words, one out of every four physicians in rural Maine is a doctor of osteopathy who trained here in our state, at Maine’s medical school.

Indeed, it is the many citizens in rural and underserved areas who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this investment in the future of primary care for Maine.

Joel A. Kase, D.O., M.P.H.

Lewiston

Abortion column made many important points

The letters attacking M.D. Harmon’s Jan. 21 column, in which he stated that “abortion has become our default form of birth control,” used these terms: “incorrect,” “untrue,” “full of falsehoods,” “slanderous lie” and “loaded with lies.”

However, not one writer provided any data to disprove Mr. Harmon’s assertions. Their charges are no better than Mr. Harmon was in not supporting the accuracy of his statements. We should look at some hard data and see who is right.

The birth rate in the United States in 2008 was 13.9 per 1,000 people, an estimated 4,247,000 births. In 2009, the birthrate was 2.6 percent less than in 2008, the lowest in a century.

The Guttmacher Institute’s January 2011 report, “Abortion Incidence and Services in the United States, 2008,” estimated that 1.2 million abortions were performed in 2008, a rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women between 15 and 44.

It also reported that the abortion rate increased from 19.4 in 2005 and 19.5 in 2007, ending a decline in the abortion rate that began in 1990. The number of abortions performed, 1.2 million per year, has remained relatively stable for each of the past five years.

These facts show the number of abortions is not decreasing, the rate of abortions is increasing, and, with abortions at 22 percent of all pregnancies (excluding those that fail due to other causes), abortions are not in any danger of becoming rare.

When you realize that one in five pregnancies is consciously ended by abortion, I believe it becomes easy to accept Mr. Harmon’s assertion that abortion has, in fact, become our default form of birth control.

Sadly, this will remain so until couples that begin a life recognize life begins at conception, accept accountability for their actions and responsibility for that life, and love the human being they conceived.

Daniel J. Rooney

Sanford

Recently I attended a high school ice hockey game with my son’s college classmate, who brought his 5-year-old daughter, Mary, with him. She is moderately afflicted with the effects of congenital spina bifida. But, she was getting around, eating goodies and enjoying herself.

The spina bifida was discovered at about four months’ gestation. Miraculously, it seems, Mom and pre-born Mary shortly went in for surgery. The fetus (baby?) was removed from Mom’s womb, with umbilical cord attached, and placed facedown on her mother’s abdomen. Spinal surgery on the baby followed. It was successful, and the baby was replaced in her mother’s womb.

At full gestation, the baby’s birth occurred in the usual vaginal manner. Mom and baby did fine, and now Mary functions quite well with the aid of forearm crutches. Now, all during this series of events, the baby, aka “the fetus,” remained the same human being, i.e., the same person.

She had, from conception, the defining chromosomal characteristics of all humans.

Mary is, and was since conception, a person. And that is true of all human beings, notwithstanding Roe v. Wade. As human beings, as persons, all of these humans are entitled to justice and should have legal protection from harm. A moral society would do that.

Additionally, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The flaw in Roe v. Wade was that the Texas attorney general could not cite for the court a case or an enacted law holding that a “fetus” is a person.

But reason, medical facts and commonsense principles of morality and justice, timeless and universally held, are ample authority. Since Jan. 22, 1973, our moral standards and concepts of justice have had an unacceptable flaw.

Richard Traynor

Falmouth

M.D. Harmon has been the subject of some harsh criticism recently with his column on abortion. This criticism has centered on some facts he presented in his op-ed piece. Whether or not he had all the information correct does not detract from Mr. Harmon’s opinion.

Maybe he would agree with me when I say abortion is stupid, needless and irresponsible. Abortion isn’t my definition of a mother’s “maternal instincts.”

Daniel Goodwin

Yarmouth

Dessert, schmessert: Start meeting constituents’ needs

I want to make a comment regarding L.D. 71, pertaining to whoopie pies and wild blueberry pie as the official state dessert.

While I am a proponent of both, I feel that our legislators were elected to fix the state problems and business and not have fun with dessert.

Are you kidding me? I see the humor, but our state is in dire need of proactive representation. Rep. Paul Davis says “whoopie pies,” and Rep. Donald Pilon says “wild blueberry pie.”

They obviously have either too much time or are not using it to best help Mainers with all our problems.

Thank you for listening and please start doing what you were elected for.

Richard Farrell

Saco