Anti-Catholic cartoon

The blatantly anti-Catholic and pro-abortion cartoon by Tony Auth in Friday's Inquirer betrays religious prejudice and a lack of understanding of the moral issue underlying the Supreme Court's decision on partial-birth abortion. Is it that disturbing to The Inquirer that the Supreme Court chose not to travel the path of moral relativism in this case?

The editorial on the same page lambasted the court and worried that the decision could lead to "a slippery slope" toward overturning Roe v. Wade. How ironic that the paper used the words Pope John Paul II used to describe what can happen when we devalue human life by following a decision such as Roe.

This is a human issue, not a Catholic one. To label it Catholic in such a prejudicial fashion unfairly dismisses all those of other religions who stand together against abortion. I cannot imagine the media would make an issue of the justices' religion were it anything other than Catholic.

These judicial scholars weighed the facts before them and concluded, morally, that taking the life of an unborn child in this horrific manner is unjust and should be unlawful. The cartoon, while pretending to be a parody of the decision, only succeeds in offending Catholics and exhibiting ignorance about the issue at hand.

Donna Farrell
Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Unintended abortions

The Supreme Court ruling upholding a ban on "partial birth abortions" - a political term, not a medical one - without taking into account risks to the mother's health is not necessarily a victory for the "pro-life" movement.

Doctors now are more likely to practice defensive medicine in cases where the need for such a procedure might arise in late-term pregnancies and may be more likely to counsel women in such cases to terminate pregnancies in earlier stages.

These actions would be reinforced because of the perceived liability to doctors should a mother die - because the doctor cannot perform such a procedure if the need arises during delivery - and also because of the risk of being second-guessed by zealous prosecutors. (Recall that Attorney General John Ashcroft tried to subpoena delivery room records.)

Thus, in their attempts to preserve the life of the fetus, "pro-life" ideologues may end up with the unintended consequence of a greater number of abortions.

George Magakis Jr.

Cut college loan rate

The revenue sharing between universities and student loan providers is really the second educational loan scandal. The first occurred in February 2006, when Congress raised the interest rate on parental educational loans (PLUS loans) to 8.5 percent.

This interest rate is higher than the national average rate for home mortgages. Families should not be forced to mortgage their homes to pay for college. That was not the intent of federal educational lending.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) championed legislation to reduce the rate on Stafford loans for students - it is currently 6.8 percent but will go down to 3.4 percent over the next four years - but she did not follow through on her pledge also to drop the parent loan rate to 4.5 percent.

Generally, it is parents who pay for college, not students. The maximum available as a Stafford student loan to a freshman is $3,500. Unless the student is going to community college, how much will $3,500 help?

Keith Calil
Plymouth Meeting

Population control

I applaud your Earth Day editorial ("An issue of global security," April 22) connecting global warming with national security, but you scarcely mentioned the role population plays. In just my lifetime, the Earth's population has risen from 2 billion to 6 billion and will rise to 9 billion. The Earth is large, but it has finite resources, including land and water.

If population exceeds resource availability, wars will ensue; I could claim this already is happening. Population increase exacerbates these problems because each person on the planet not only uses resources but also contributes to global warming, whether through land clearing or burning of fossil fuels. In their efforts to slow global warming and to reduce wars over resources, governments should support population control.

It is hypocritical of the Bush administration to say that underfunding population-control efforts protects the sanctity of life, because if we do not limit the Earth's population, we will see millions of humans and other species die from lack of resources.

Vickie Robertson