Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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Burns needs to check his facts


Douglas Burns shows poor journalistic fact checking in his editorial, “Fiorina shows fraud of alleged prolife movement.” Mr. Burns brings up the old canard that if Roe vs. Wade were to be reversed, all abortions will be illegal and women undergoing abortions will be arrested and imprisoned, etc. This falsehood has been repeated enough times to become an urban legend. Prior to Roe v. Wade, abortion law was determined at the state level. Twenty states had legal abortion prior to Roe v. Wade, which invalidated all state abortion laws and established guidelines for legal abortion for all 50 states. Before 1973, the abortion wars were being vigorously contested within state legislatures. A reversal of Roe v. Wade would simply return abortion law to the purvue of the states. Some would outlaw it, most probably would not. Further, before Roe, women were not prosecuted for having abortions. Women were considered the “second victim” of a procedure considered unethical by physicians since the fifth century BC in the Hippocratic Oath. The physician who performed abortions was considered the wrong doer. The abortion-performing physician was simply stripped of their license to practice, and disgraced. How about a “fourth generation Iowa newspaperman” get back to journalism 101 and research the facts of law and history, for starters. The readers deserve better.

Eugene J. Cherny
-Des Moines


A matter of trust

In Ferguson, Missouri, a young African American man is shot dead by a police officer. The grand jury concludes that the actions of the victim, including evidence of injuries to the officer, were sufficiently threatening to warrant use of deadly force. One year later, black citizens are still incredulous, and people wonder why. The answer lies not in questions of race, but in trust, or lack thereof, in American jurisprudence: read “Grand Jury.” Des Moines, unfortunately, is the site of the most recent example of such gross injustice. Between fall of 2006 and May 2013, I drove a taxicab in Des Moines for Trans Iowa LLC. On at least a dozen occasions, I transported Ryan Bolinger between his home and job in food service at Drake University. Judging by who paid for his transportation, it was obvious that Ryan was a young man with some sort of personal problem or limitation. Although a relatively quiet young man, he was otherwise courteous and as “normal” as any other passenger. I was shocked and saddened when I learned that he was shot to death by a Des Moines police officer. I was even more shocked by the decision of the grand jury. According to official reports, Ryan, after a 35 mph “chase” by police, walked toward the officer’s squad car “with a purpose,” whatever that may mean. While such a nebulous term as “with a purpose” may be subject to interpretation, what is not subject to misunderstanding is the fact that Ryan Bolinger was an unarmed young man who was tried, convicted and shot to death, on the spot, by a Des Moines police officer. And the officer, despite Ryan’s “purposeful” behavior, was inside her patrol car, in absolutely no danger. She shot him dead, through the glass of her drivers’ side window. Since when does a speed of 35 mph constitute a circumstance that justifies a potentially dangerous police chase? Where, in the extensive training that is provided to Des Moines police officers, does it say that shooting anyone from inside a locked patrol car is OK? Why are so many white Americans flummoxed by the continuing doubts and mistrust that our black citizens have for the police and for our justice system? How many times, and for how long, have black Americans heard these “Grand Jury” decisions?

Prep Iowa

William E. Shackelford
-Des Moines

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