ISSUE | ABORTION

It's a human life

No one reading Johanna Schoen's commentary ("Clinic attack is domestic terrorism," Thursday) can disagree that violent attacks on organizations such as Planned Parenthood are anything but brutal and inexcusable. Violence is violence, and murder is murder, no matter who commits it. We can also agree that some of the rhetoric opposing abortion providers can incite such violence by disturbed individuals.

What I find disingenuous and appalling is Schoen's comment that a fetus is not a baby. This semantic wordplay implies that the living, developing human being is something else, an alien entity with no more right to life than a bacterium.

Yes, there are unhinged individuals who fancy themselves as rescuing unborn children by murdering abortion providers and anyone else who happens to be around. But pretending that the taking of unborn life is no more egregious than removing a wart is just as insane.

|Gloria C. Endres, Philadelphia, sisglo@aol.com

Rhetoric is cruel

Dana Milbank rightly criticizes the language being used by the extremists against Planned Parenthood ("Unleashing the unhinged," Wednesday). Using terms such as "murderer" or "murderess" is misguided. It is wrong and cruel. Using such incendiary terms does not accomplish anything positive.

Having said this, I believe that criticisms of Planned Parenthood are justified. Hearing the Planned Parenthood representative talk in the undercover video of the dismembering of an unborn child was appalling. This is not a cancerous tumor being excised from the woman; this is a developing human being who has a functioning heart and perfectly formed hands and feet, and is able to feel pain.

Planned Parenthood's disregard for unborn babies is disturbing. It is even more disturbing that this organization is funded by taxpayers' dollars.

|Bill Cooney, Philadelphia

ISSUE | LOGAN

A good plan

It makes me exceedingly happy that the huge weed- and trash-covered strip of land in Logan where hundreds of houses once stood might be the site of a sports and education complex ("Center could bring new life to Logan," Thursday). My house on the 4600 block of North 12th Street is still standing, while those of many Logan boyhood friends are long gone - although the fond memories of growing up in a lovely neighborhood are not. Over the years, whenever I passed the Logan Triangle, I was saddened by that empty, unkempt space, wishing for a playground or park - something worthwhile to replace a stark reminder of lost youth.

Kudos to the Philadelphia Youth Basketball organization, the Goldenberg Group, and the city for developing this project. Perhaps this project will resurrect Logan and represent the rebirth of a valuable neighborhood.

|Dr. Steve Burnstein, Marlton

ISSUE | JOBS FOR VETS

A helping hand

Regarding the letter urging the construction trades to hire veterans ("Military vets are trained and ready to work," Thursday): The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters is reaching out to returning veterans to train them through its Veterans in Piping program. Anyone interested in helping a veteran start a career should visit the website: http://uavip.org. The program makes me proud to be an American and a union member.

|Reid Beck, retired member, Steamfitters Local 420, Rydal, reid_beck@hotmail.com

ISSUE | TERRORISM AND GUN VIOLENCE

President's ISIS address lacked teeth

In his address to the American people on Sunday night, which was rather uninspiring, President Obama showed that he still doesn't get it regarding terrorism.

He showed regret that people were killed last week by terrorists in the worst attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, and he showed anger toward the Islamic State. But I was disappointed that he didn't introduce any measures that would help defeat ISIS. He seems to be all words and no actions - maintaining the status quo, which has been largely ineffective.

|Kenneth L. Zimmerman, Huntington Beach, Calif.

Obama is right to keep troops home

Since the revelation last week that the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters were radicalized Muslims inspired by ISIS, there's been a near-universal refrain of "I told you so" from the political right. This is seen as further proof that our president is weak and naïve and that his strategy to fight terrorism has been a failure.

The way I see it, the exact opposite is true. President Obama understands that the fight cannot be won militarily. Can anybody explain how committing thousands of troops in Iraq and Syria would stop a deranged married couple in California from stockpiling weapons and shooting up a conference room? The president needs to ignore the calls for further military intervention and place his emphasis on securing the homeland through intelligence and law enforcement.

|Brian Pell, Merchantville

A grandfather's plea for solutions

As a conservative grandfather who suffered a devastating loss when my 6-year-old grandson, Benjamin Wheeler, was murdered at Sandy Hook (Conn.) Elementary School in 2012, I am disgusted by the attitude of both major political parties. The Republicans react to any discussion of gun safety as though it would destroy the Constitution, and the Democrats react to mass shootings as though passing a law will make them go away.

Let's get a few things straight:

There are people who should not own guns, and we should do whatever we can to keep guns out of their hands.

There are weapons that should be restricted to military use.

If you legitimately own a weapon and, through indifference or intent, it is used in a crime, you should be held responsible.

I call on our elected officials to discuss these points responsibly. I am looking for leadership, not diatribes.

I owe my grandson every ounce of energy I have to make our society a safer place.

|Carmen Lobis, West Chester, clobis511@gmail.com

The price we pay for freedom

Almost no American wants terrorist strikes in the homeland, but we will allow them to recur anyway - and they will. Why? Because the cost to our personal well-being and freedom to implement the kind of environment that could stamp out terrorism is far too severe.

Only a highly authoritarian police state with an ever-present "big brother" mentality has a chance of preventing terrorist activity. That is too high a price to pay.

We will not even enact more-restrictive gun-control regulations that might lessen access to lethal weapons. Would people allow the government to infringe on our personal liberties? No.

|Ken Derow, Swarthmore

Gun laws can do only so much

President Obama is again calling for tougher gun laws. I am tired of political rhetoric.

California has gun laws that are among the strictest in the country. Perhaps an analysis of the ineffectiveness of those laws, given the San Bernardino shootings, would lead to a deeper understanding of the real problem.

I am not opposed to comprehensive background checks and psychological evaluations. I would even favor a weapon training requirement like a driver's test. But I do not see these as solutions since such laws would impose only a moderating influence on behavior.

Laws can act only as a deterrent. When the law is irrelevant to a cause or need, it will have no effect and provide only a false sense of security.

|Bill Brandley, Laurel Springs