Because of the scarce print space allocated among the 60 to 70 letters to the editor that run each week, submissions replying to other letters are only occasionally published on the regular pages. When an unusually high volume of “letters on letters” are sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, a selection will run in this space. This week, more than three dozen readers weighed in on other letters, most of them responding to discussions on freedom of religion vis a vis the Obama administration’s rule on mandatory contraception coverage, and on Israeli President Shimon Peres’ take on a two-state solution. Here is a selection.
Paul Thornton, letters editor
I disagree with Rachel Steward, who wrote to “applaud The Times for supporting the federal regulation that requires employers’ health insurance plans to include contraceptive services.”
She writes: “We must not let one person’s religious liberty trump another’s need for basic healthcare.”
Religious liberty is guaranteed by the Constitution; free birth control is not. The Roman Catholic Church (which self-insures many entities) has a right to expect that it will not be coerced into funding a service it finds morally objectionable.
Americans should be concerned by the Obama administration’s action.
In response to reader Emily Simmonds’ letter stating that the contraception mandate “undermines the work of religious individuals to live out their own faith,” I question a faith that relies on national law for fulfillment of its beliefs. Faith comes from within one’s self; it is an individual value. For “religious individuals to live out their own faith,” they must make their own decisions based on their personal values. Specifically, women who do not believe in using contraception would not make the decision to use contraception.
Making this decision for them would take away their individual rights. As a mother of three young women, I want and expect my children to have the right to make that decision independently based on their own values.
I would suggest to the letter writers that little weight should be given to Peres’ remarks, which do not reflect the views of the current Israeli government on the potential of a peace process with a recalcitrant Palestinian leadership. Peres, holding the mostly honorary title of president, was a longtime member of the Labor Party, which is not even in the current governing coalition.
Peres’ dovishness did not advance the peace process when his former party was in power because of the inordinate demands of the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.
If one wants to look for peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the key will be a final acceptance both by the Palestinian Authority and surrounding Arab nations of a Jewish state.
Silver Spring, Md.