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After reading Hannah Sayle's story "Service Interruption" (The Fly-by, August 30th issue), the follow-up to her well-researched exposé of the Shelby County Health Department's misguided contract with Christ Community Health Services for the provision of reproductive health care to low-income women, I'm forced to wonder what Mayor Mark Luttrell plans to do about this situation, which clearly left thousands of Shelby County citizens without the care they needed.

The decision to award the contract to provide sensitive reproductive health services to an overtly religious health-care provider whose leaders publicly stated they would not abide by the program's requirements to present pregnant patients with all their options, including abortion, was nothing less than a fiasco. The fact that CCHS also requires patients to take an unnecessary extra step to obtain emergency contraception — that can effectively prevent pregnancy only if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex — should have disqualified CCHS from even being considered for the Title X grant.

It's simply unacceptable that health department director Yvonne Madlock excuses CCHS's clear failure to meet the grant requirements by saying, "Systems have to ramp up." The county's own request for proposals required that the applying subcontractors have sufficient staffing in place to provide the services. As is obvious now, CCHS did not have the ability to serve the patients when the grant was awarded and should have been disqualified for that reason alone.

What is clear is that Mayor Luttrell and Yvonne Madlock allowed political considerations to guide their decision to award this contract. As public servants, their primary consideration instead should have been the health and well-being of the citizens whose lives have been directly impacted.

John Marshall Jones
Memphis

Anti-abortion Extremists?

In light of Shelby County's debacle with the Title X reproductive services contract ("Unplanned Parenthood," August 23rd issue), it behooves voters to pay close attention to the top of the GOP ticket: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are anti-abortion extremists. Ryan opposes abortion in all instances, which is also the official position of the GOP's national platform. Romney is okay with abortion in the case of rape or incest, or at least that's his position this week.

Three Supreme Court justices will most likely retire in the next four years. Romney and Ryan will pick justices as far to the right as the Tea Party base demands and whatever the Senate will permit. Any woman — or man who favors a woman's right to control her own body — would be very stupid to vote for Team R&R.

Shelley Carpenter
Memphis

Ryan Didn't Build It

Regarding "Ryan's Hope" (Viewpoint, August 30th issue): GOP vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan's family business was built in large part on government contracts. Salon.com reports that Ryan Incorporated Central began in 1884 by doing government-subsidized railroad construction, then moved into building federal interstate highways and helped build O'Hare Airport.

The story notes: A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that Ryan Incorporated Central has had at least 22 defense contracts with the federal government since 1996, including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million. ... Ryan secured millions in earmarks for his home state of Wisconsin, including, among other things, $3.3 million for highway projects. And Ryan voted to preserve $40 billion in special subsidies for big oil, an industry in which, it so happens, Ryan and his wife hold ownership stakes.

Yet in his first speech as Romney's running-mate, Ryan joined in on the attacks on President Obama for believing that those whose businesses are successful in part succeed because "somebody invested in roads and bridges."

Minnie Raybould
Memphis

Ready or Not

Bruce VanWyngarden's mother may not have heard of "those Southern teams" who play in the SEC (Letter from the Editor, August 30th issue), but her Missouri Tigers are about to find out what real big-time college football is about, starting with Georgia in two weeks and Alabama a couple weeks after that. I'm afraid she — and all Mizzou fans — are in for a rude awakening. Welcome to the Big Leagues!

Chuck Williams
Oxford, Mississippi

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