Letters to the editor: October 26 to November 1

M&G bias shines through

I have read the Mail & Guardian usually with interest and appreciation but in the past year I have realised that your newspaper has a strong pro-choice and pro-LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer/questioning). As an independent newspaper I expect that you would be tolerant to people from different backgrounds, different religions and faiths. But it seems that you actively promote certain opinions and solutions to shape and influence the readers’ minds.

An example is the article on abortion in your September 21 to 27 edition. On page 18 you blame people who are in favour of saving a baby’s life as spreading “the gospel of shame and misinfor­mation”. Why can’t you, as an independent newspaper, give the pro-choice and the pro-life point of view in an objective and transparent way? Why go “undercover” to an organisation that has a different approach to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies as if it is a secret organisation with an abhorrent agenda?

If you ask doctors, midwives and lay people how they feel about unwanted pregnancies you will, in most cases, get an honest and clear answer. Some people will see “safe abortions” as the solution and promote that as the quickest and simplest solution. But many others, including Christians, Muslims, Jews and humanists, will argue that a pregnancy of eight or 12 weeks is a human life that you cannot simply terminate. They are convinced that one must look at the root causes of why this woman is pregnant and why her pregnancy is unwanted. Has she considered other options? Is her decision well informed or made in a hurry without counselling? The task of each healthcare worker is to give every patient or client all the facts and the options so that the person can make a decision that she will not regret later or be ashamed of.

Why do you call this a “gospel of shame and misinformation”? It shows that you are clearly intolerant of people who don’t see a quick abortion in a termination of pregnancy clinic as the solution for unwanted pregnancies.

If you are really an inde­pendent newspaper that is trying to help the readers to form an opinion, you should give the different views in a neutral and transparent way. Why are there, week after week, at least one story about LGBTIQ persons but never a story about a hetero couple who have been married for 20 or 40 years and have an excellent relationship, a fulfilling and enjoyable sex life and are free of the fear of sexually transmitted illnesses, HIV and unwanted pregnancies because they have ­chosen to be faithful to each other and plan their pregnancies properly.

Usually I read your newspaper with interest, especially the health section, but I am disappointed by your bias and intolerance of certain views and solutions. I think you can go to any church, mosque, Christian nongovernmental organisation or pro-life group and ask them how they feel about these issues and you will get a proper explanation. There is no need to go undercover and lie about who you are and then blame the people with a different opinion as spreading misinformation.

Pontsho Pilane can come and see me any time and I can explain to her why lay people and healthcare workers have different opinions on these topics.

Last weekend we had a rural health conference in Vereeniging and debated unwanted pregnancies and abortions in an open, ­honest and transparent way where anybody could give his or her opinion and people could disagree with each other without blaming those with a different view. — Martin Bac, family physician and lecturer at the University of Pretoria

Sever the tentacles of corruption

Only constitutional reform and a new breed of politicians can release our country from the tentacles of corruption suffocating the country.

The numerous scandals show that corruption and impropriety are embedded in our governance processes, and no band-aid approach can bring the country back to the level of governance of the early post-apartheid times.

It proves the point that today’s perceived level of corruption is directly proportional to the quality of people who sit in our Parliament and the integrity of those who dispense the services of government.

Political parties are equally culpable, because their vetting processes for potential parliamentary and local government candidates are flawed and biased towards those who support the leader of the party rather than towards integrity, competency and morality.

If we separate the powers of government, make it more accountable and efficient and trim the powers of the ministers of government, we would have gone a far way in chopping off the tentacles of corruption.

That, however, is easier said than done, because power is “sweet” and not easy to relinquish.

As a people we must immediately demand that the government begins the process of constitutional reform as a matter of priority. We must demand that our MPs end this scandal-after-scandal syndrome in our country. They need training and counselling to improve their governance. But no training will fix the corruption if the system facilitates it; hence we need reforms. — Sajida Timol, Durban

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