June 15, 2013

Letters to the editor: Anti-care expansion speech 'offensive'

I am both appalled and disturbed by Rep. Ken Fredette's remarks regarding his opposition to the expansion of health care benefits in Maine.

click image to enlarge

A reader deplores claims by Rep. Ken Fredette, above, that men’s greater capacity for rational thought allowed him to recognize the drawbacks to a proposal to expand MaineCare eligibility.

2013 File Photo/Tim Greenway

As justification for rejecting health care expansion, he refers to the book "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," which he claims supports his position that men think rationally, concretely and linearly, while women respond primarily emotionally and reflexively.

In doing so, he is patronizing, offensive and dismissive of women's intellectual capacities, and further, his statement is clearly indicative of his shallow investigation of the true negative impact of his insular and short-sighted position.

As a consequence of disability, and resultant low-income status, and as a recipient of both Medicare and MaineCare, I will be profoundly negatively impacted by the opposition of the governor and members of the Maine Legislature to the expansion of health care needs of Maine's affected citizens, should such opposition succeed.

I had been professionally employed all my adult life until disability prevented me from doing so. I am not looking for a handout, but compassion and respect from those who have been given a position in our state government to give a voice to the often voiceless, and to represent the people of Maine, a people known for helping and empowering their fellow citizens.

Mr. Fredette should consider putting down his paperback and using his time constructively and respectfully in supporting the men and women of Maine in their endeavors as they work toward supporting themselves and their families during this difficult and economically challenging time.

Elizabeth Guest

Portland

Maine must emulate Europe, enact more toxin protections

In many ways, Norway is a safer and saner country in which to raise children. Our three Norwegian-American grandchildren's health care is free, and they will never face exposure to the many "chemicals of high concern" that surround our four grandchildren (and all the rest of us) who are in the U.S.

Like other countries in Europe, Norway follows the precautionary principle of prohibition in toys and common household products of any substance shown by credible scientific research to pose a hazard to human health and development.

Maine is barely starting to catch up in legislating protections from chemicals that pose risks of cancer, endocrine disruption, impairment of brain development or other health risks.

The earlier Kid-Safe Products Act ensures that harmful chemicals such as BPA (bisphenol A) are replaced by safer alternatives in toys and sippy cups. Now L.D. 1181, "An Act to Further Strengthen the Protection of Pregnant Women and Children From Toxic Chemicals," will extend similar protection to older children and expectant mothers.

We know that exposure to even minimal amounts of some toxins during gestation may have lifelong negative health effects. Learning disabilities or loss of even a few IQ points may lead to inferior school performance or possibly limit higher education and career options.

Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in utero may years later impair reproductive function. Just as with lead and mercury, what were once considered safe levels of exposure to many hazardous substances are revised downward as we improve our ability to detect correlations with adverse clinical outcomes.

Environmental toxins don't choose sides. L.D. 1181 deserves strong bipartisan support. Send letters, emails and calls to your senators and representatives to insist they "do the right thing," even in the face of a threatened veto by Gov. LePage.

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