I am writing to applaud Portland Public Health in their decision to release posters addressing the particularly potent heroin recently affecting Greater Portland (“Posters warn addicts about potent Portland heroin,” Feb. 5).

As controversial as it may seem to publicly encourage precautions when using illegal substances, in no way do I interpret the intent of these posters to encourage the use of or experimentation with heroin.

Recognizing that the posters are not targeting nonuser issues, I find these actions to be responsible and progressive, as they target a group of people for whom the standard anti-drug programs clearly failed. Regardless of the merits or faults of prohibition, it is undeniable that people are going to use drugs, and while the law is established to punish them, public health programs should be established to help them.

With already 13 overdoses since the beginning of December, I find it appropriate to address this problem by reaching out to consumers in a nonjudgmental, humanistic way. Our society is quick to shun, shame and judge individuals battling addiction rather than offering the supportive communities that may encourage wellness.

While I do not advocate for the legalization of heroin, I feel that it is important to approach these recent overdoses strictly with the intention to reduce harm. This is an issue about potentially saving the lives of our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens.

I find it unfortunate that this public health issue has been twisted into a talking point for those less compassionate or less informed about addiction. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away.

Obviously, there is literally no safe way to use heroin. However, the recent steps made with these posters may be steps in the right direction, for they provide possibly life-saving education to both users and friends of users.

Lauren LaBonte


Guns in school would cause problems, not solve them

I am writing in response to the article “Maine bill would allow teachers to carry guns,” published in the Portland Press Herald on Jan. 23.

While Sen. David Burns’ concern for the safety of children and staff in schools is commendable, his proposed bill is not an appropriate solution.

As an occupational therapy student, I have spent time in schools observing therapists and have become familiar with the school environment. It is no place for guns.

Even with safety training and the best intentions, people can still make mistakes. In hectic classroom settings, weapons could be misplaced and accessed by children with tragic results.

Additionally, Sen. Burns’ claim that schools are “soft targets” because teachers do not carry weapons is an unfounded generalization. While the massacre that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December was appalling, such events are a rarity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vast majority of children will never experience lethal violence on school grounds, with less than 1 percent of homicides among school-age children occurring at school.

Instead of arming school staff, why not focus on preventing dangerous situations in the first place? Increasing security (e.g., locked doors, proper visitor regulations, functioning intercom systems) is a safer and simpler solution and a better investment than providing weapons for teachers.

Jessica Reed

South Portland

Abortion-rights supporters do injustice to the unborn

Regarding Rachael Myers Healy’s editorial supporting abortion rights (“Another View: Abortion restrictions put decision making in wrong hands,” Feb. 2):

It is so easy to forget the humanity of those who live hidden lives, be it the homeless in a shelter, the prisoner in a cell, a child in the womb.

It is so easy to acknowledge that the young should be held less accountable for their choices due to immaturity, yet expect a young woman to understand exactly what she is doing when she has an abortion, and know exactly how she will feel about it when it is too late to change her mind.

It is so easy to talk about the woman’s right to privacy until you are the grieving person who lost a family member to an end that precludes public mourning, or even a private burial.

Every abortion is the loss of a human being to love and be loved by.

Where is the justice?

Zoe Goody

Cape Elizabeth

In recent letters to the editor of the Press Herald, many have expressed outrage at the recent massacres in Newtown, Aurora, Arizona, etc. One writer even said he wept when he heard what happened in Newtown. These events certainly were terrible tragedies and worthy of our sorrow and outrage.

My concern is that so many of the same people show no sorrow or outrage at the massacre of millions of unborn babies in this country since Roe v. Wade. These little ones are innocent victims, and their lives are precious, too.

I remember the headlines of the Press Herald the morning after Newtown. In huge front-page letters, we read, ” ‘Evil’ visits school.” I was heartened to see that in this age dominated by relativism, someone still recognizes that evil does exist.

The evil of slavery was not fully recognized for many years, and we are still paying for that huge mistake. Today we have the slaughter of unborn babies in huge numbers. It sorrows my heart that our depraved minds can’t see the evil of abortion.

I fully realize the very difficult situations some of these women face. Yet I have to believe that there are better options than ending a life.

It seems that until we recognize this as the great tragedy that it is, there will not be enough outrage to change the current killing of approximately 1 million unborn babies each year.

Leonard MacPhee