To the editor,
Letters to the editor are a valuable and interesting part of most newspapers. They offer readers the opportunity to put forth their opinions on a wide range of topics in the news. We don’t always agree with what people say, but one reason we read letters to the editor is to see what people think.
That being said, we think it’s a different situation when a letter writer cites “facts” that are obviously preposterous. We think those situations call for a bit more work on the part of the editorial staff. When one of us (Phyllis) wrote a letter to the Baltimore Sun on a matter of community interest when she was living in Maryland, she cited a number of statistics and other facts to bolster her argument. The Sun printed the letter — but only after the editor contacted her and asked for the sources of those facts and statistics. Then they actually printed footnotes with the letter.
While we don’t expect the Herald to begin printing letters to the editor with footnotes, we do think the editorial staff dropped the ball with a recent letter, “Bad partnership in North Dakota,” which contained the assertion that “one of Planned Parenthood’s company goals is for 12-18 year old girls to have three to five abortions.” That is a statement of an alleged “fact” that is something that could be fact-checked for accuracy, and it clearly wasn’t.
Although we disagree with people who think that sex education for teens and making contraception readily available are morally wrong, they are entitled to their opinions. They are not entitled to their own “facts.”
We are dumbfounded that the Herald simply took this ridiculous assertion at face value and printed it.
Editor’s note: The letter (“Bad partnership in North Dakota,” by Linda Thorson) was published in the Tuesday edition of the Herald.
The letter-writers are correct: The claim deserved attribution. Thorson attributes the statement in question to author and speaker Carol Everett, a former owner of abortion clinics who has written a book about her experience, titled “Blood Money: Getting Rich Off a Woman’s Right to Choose.” Everett made that claim about her clinics' quotas in a speech that can be found on YouTube and in various articles written about her.