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Misusing Thomas Jefferson to make a case for defunding Planned Parenthood

To the editor: I would not be writing if Jonah Goldberg had merely discussed how people, even those who support abortion rights, may "squirm" when reading a doctor's secretly recorded insensitive comments about fetus extraction. Yes, I squirm. ("Defunding Planned Parenthood is not the same as repealing the right to abortion," op-ed, Aug. 4)

Instead, he quotes Thomas Jefferson out of context to try to bolster his argument for defunding Planned Parenthood.

Contrary to the main thesis of Goldberg's article, Jefferson did not state or imply that "it is sinful and tyrannical" to use "contributions" (taxes) for purposes that offend "feelings." After all, any tax will offend some people who do not support its particular purpose.

Rather, Jefferson wrote these words around 1779 to oppose using tax money to support a particular religion. He was arguing for freedom of religion. Those ideas later morphed into our constitutional mandate for the separation of church and state.

Alan Golden, Calabasas

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To the editor: Jonah Goldberg cites Thomas Jefferson as saying, "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical."

Although I wonder whether Goldberg mourns the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as much as he does those lost in abortions, I see merit to his argument. And here is a suggestion:

Let's work for tax reform that allows us to claim a refund of our contributions for each of the programs that we abhor. As a start, put me down for my portion of all the costs of those two wars (excepting care for veterans), the yearly appropriations for maintaining the prison at Guantanamo Bay, the incarceration costs related to the war on drugs, all big business subsidies and the new aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford.

Ed Grubbs, Spring Valley, Calif.

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