Mike Fink has recently given several media interviews concerning the Pro-Life Missionaries at Planned Parenthood in Portland (“Protesters face off over abortion rights in Portland,” Jan. 4). As one of the Missionaries, I want to address some of Mr. Fink’s claims.

Mr. Fink has stated in several interviews, including at least one printed in this newspaper, that the Missionaries have yelled in people’s faces. This is patently false.

It would be illegal for any of our Missionaries to engage in such behavior. There is a police officer on duty at the clinic each week when we engage in sidewalk counseling. If Mr. Fink’s claims were true and our actions were as outrageous as he claims, we would certainly have been arrested already.

Pro-Life Missionaries of Maine engage people in a peaceful, non-threatening manner, as required by law. We are not “protesters,” we are educators helping to get last-minute information to women who oftentimes need help.

Many women entering the clinic feel that they have no other option but to abort their children. Some of our Missionaries have adopted children, including one family who has adopted five.

We do what we do because we love people and believe that all human life should be protected as precious, including the lives of the unborn.

Jeremy Hiltz

Chelsea

As a resident of Portland for the last 14 years, I’ve seen my share of protests in public spaces, from anti-war demonstrations to religious proselytism.

People’s ability to exercise their rights to free speech and free assembly so readily is something that makes our city great. However, the anti-choice protesters who have taken to standing outside of the Planned Parenthood Health Center in recent weeks have crossed the line from free expression into harassment.

The protesters picket the Congress Street facility carrying signs covered in slogans and graphic images. Ostensibly, they are there to voice their objections to the abortion procedures that Planned Parenthood performs.

As vehement as their opposition to these procedures may be, however, they seem not to care that abortions constitute only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides. Most people go to Planned Parenthood’s health centers for sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, contraception or cancer screenings.

For many poor or uninsured people, myself included, the health centers are the only way to access reasonably priced reproductive health care, and by attempting to block people from utilizing those services, the protesters are not living up very well to the “pro-life” label that they apply to themselves.

While I do disagree quite ardently with both the methods and message employed by the anti-choice protesters, I do accept that they have a constitutional right to publicly espouse their views. Therefore, I strongly support a proposal to create a “patient safety buffer zone” around the clinic.

The protesters will still be able to voice their opinions, while all of those who avail themselves of the irreplaceable services provided by Planned Parenthood will have access to them safely, without having to worry about the hostility and scorn of the protesters.

Blynn Curtis

Portland

Severe limits key to halting lion’s share of mass killings

At last, Mark MacLeod and Robert Gillies have articulated my thoughts concerning the Second Amendment (“Voice of the People: Repeal the Second Amendment,” Jan. 6).

I agree that the Second Amendment has been misinterpreted. To those people who immediately cite Newtown as proof that I am off my rocker, I offer the notion that some things are unknowable. Rushing to find solutions so that this tragedy won’t ever happen again is an exercise in futility.

I do believe that if guns were severely regulated, and assault weapons the prerogative of the military and law enforcement, it would be a lot harder for people to obtain these weapons. But people who wish to wipe out an elementary school are pretty unusual. There is no real way to protect ourselves from that.

There is a lot of discussion about mental illness, arming principals and bullet-proofing school doors. I agree that mental illness needs to be addressed and school safety is an issue. But nothing will stop a determined person with an assault rifle.

Some people just like guns. From that come all the arguments concerning the need for citizens to arm themselves. Rationalizations come after the fact.

Hunting with rifles. Sure. Target practice? Why not? I’m pretty sure I don’t need to arm myself at home or carry a weapon on my way to Hannaford. In case you think that I have had no experience around weapons, I served as a trainer for the U.S. Army.

Newtown, and all horrendous shootings, are incredibly sad and shocking. But that doesn’t mean that we can fully understand or prevent them.

More difficult access and severe regulation might prevent all but the most determined individuals from committing these heinous acts. People will always be able to skirt the law. We can only hope to make it harder, and prevent deaths resulting from weapons easily accessible in homes.

Rachel Schwartz

South Portland

‘Diatribe’ offers misleading take on Republican ideas

I don’t often respond to editorial comments, but I felt it necessary to respond to Tom Walton’s diatribe (“Voice of the People: Don’t Republican voters enjoy entitlements, too?” Dec. 30).

Mr. Walton’s lack of knowledge and fuzzy thinking about Republicans, and I assume conservatives, is monumental. I fear he has fallen for many of the lies spewed in the liberal blogosphere.

No Republican or conservative I know, and believe me, I know many, wants to destroy Social Security or Medicare. In order to save them, however, modifications need to be made. What those modifications are is up to Congress to work out, although I do have some ideas.

Republicans want to help those in real need, but oppose the welfare state that robs people of their dignity and puts them in a permanent state of dependency. Help for anyone, except the permanently disabled or needy elderly, should be temporary. Those who work hard to provide for their families should not be expected to support those who chose not to.

To say that Republicans only care for the rich is so nonsensical that it defies logic. Most Republicans are middle class, work hard and believe that the government should not be able to pick the pockets of the successful hardworking folks (both Republicans and Democrats) in order to spend it on programs for those who refuse to work.

Finally, how much debt beyond the $16 trillion already incurred should the government be allowed to rack up?

Conservative Republicans say that it’s time to stop robbing our children and grandchildren, for this is a debt that they will have to pay the interest on for their whole lives.

Agree or not with what most of us Republicans believe, at least now Mr. Walton should have a clearer picture. We want our country to remain a land of opportunity.

Russell Warnberg

Windham

Cindy Blodgett’s successor seems to lack qualifications

I find it strange that no one has commented about the University of Maine women’s basketball team. UMaine brought in a hatchet man solely to get rid of the treasure of women’s basketball, Cindy Blodgett.

His name is Steve Abbott. He appointed Richard Barron to replace her, and Barron, as best as I can see, never was a head coach.

How is that working out?

Jack Barry

Saco