Letters: Readers discuss family planning, rape victims and homeless Kansas Citians

·4 min read

Proactive health

On Sept. 26, the world will unite for a global event to raise awareness for protecting and improving access to family planning services that are vital for so many.

World Contraception Day allows us to reflect on the ways society can continue to enable all people to make informed decisions regarding their health care.

Across Missouri, 12 health centers in 32 locations are working to remove barriers to contraceptive access through a project called The Right Time. Through this initiative, health care providers are increasing access to the full range of birth control methods and inspiring people to choose whatever method is best for them — all at no cost to the patient.

Improving access to contraception allows individuals to decide if, when and under what circumstances to become pregnant, empowering them to determine their own future and make their own plans when it comes to building a family.

At a time when policymakers across the country are seeking to limit access to sexual and reproductive care, World Contraception Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and remove barriers to health care for all people, regardless of geography, economic status, race, sexual orientation or gender identity.

- Katherine Patterson-Paronto, Kansas City

Brave admission

Danny Sjursen was right on the mark in his Sept. 12 letter under the subhead “What I learned.” (20A) It takes a good deal of courage to publicly admit you were wrong, especially in an era when “pageantry patriotism” is all the vogue. I found especially moving his remark that he “could never explain to the family members what exactly the eight soldiers under my command had died for.”

- Alan F. Perry, Kansas City

Not justice

I am writing to express my support for the Topeka West High School, Wichita State University and University of Kansas students who staged protests last week, accusing local officials of not doing enough to hold male students accountable for sexually assaulting female classmates.

I also support the U.S. Olympic gymnasts who recently shined a bright light on how authorities covered up the sexual abuse they’d suffered at the hands of their team doctor.

These individuals have added their voices to a discussion that is long overdue.

At some point, I hope the protesters will broaden their cause to include the women at Topeka Correctional Facility who killed the men who were raping them. Their stories, too, have been covered up.

My daughter, Sarah Gonzales-McLinn, killed her controlling abuser in Lawrence in 2014. At the time, she was 19 and he was 52. A jury found her guilty of first-degree murder. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld her “hard 50” sentence, which was later reduced to a hard 25 years to life in exchange for her giving up her right to further appeals.

Should my daughter spend another 18 years in prison for killing the man she says had been raping her two to three times a week for almost a year? I think not.

Did the judicial process get to the bottom of what was going on behind closed doors between my daughter and her abuser? No, it did not.

Did the Kansas Supreme Court’s 66-page decision include the word “rape”? No, it did not.

At the women’s prison, my daughter’s story is not unique. The systems that are slow in addressing sexual assaults and cover up a team doctor’s pedophilia are the same as those that dismiss the inmates’ stories with a centuries-old disclaimer: “If it was so bad, why didn’t she just leave?”

Is that acceptable? No, it’s not.

- Michelle Gonzales, Topeka

A way to help

I was pleased to read in Wednesday’s front-page story “A Day in Her Shoes” that the Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus provides showers, haircuts and a clothing closet, but it’s a single location and the program hardly seems big enough to handle the estimated 2,000-plus homeless people in the Kansas City area.

Some homeless people would rather work and would apply for jobs if they had a chance to clean up, get decent clothing and have lockers where they could store their possessions.

I have often wondered if any thrift shops would consider filling this need. Call it a job-application program.

- Margaret Nichols, Olathe

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