These past few weeks, we have witnessed a number of egregious examples of one religious group managing to impose their religious beliefs on the general public when several states passed very restrictive legislation on abortions.

I strongly defend a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body. Not only should she have the freedom to choose abortion, she should have the equal protection from being required to have one, such as happened in China.

There are varied religious concepts of when life begins. It begins as early as sperm joining with ovum to, at the other extreme, unborn being capable of life outside the womb. This variation should be reason enough to leave the decision to the mother. We are a country that values the separation of church and state, and we have decidedly rejected imposing a state religion.

In fact, that issue was the driving force that brought so many to our shores from the very beginning of our existence as a country. After years of outlawed abortions ending in death or injury to women, safe abortions are saving many lives.

We face a similar dilemma with regard to measles vaccinations. In my mind, those who have religious beliefs that vaccinations are wrong should not be required to get one. However, because the government has an obligation to protect public safety in situations where there is an epidemic of any potentially fatal contagious disease, it is within the government’s obligation to protect those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons or are too young.

In such situations, where there are clusters of active cases, I think it would be perfectly appropriate to require those not vaccinated to be quarantined in some manner such as prohibiting them from attending school or places where people congregate, to protect them and to prevent exposing others not protected.

Perhaps, when a person unvaccinated by choice catches the disease and exposes a number of people during the incubation period resulting in damaged health, the law should provide for legal liability allowing restitution for the victim by those persons responsible or the parents of a child when that chain of exposure can be proven.

We should also prohibit travel on public transportation from places where the disease has reached epidemic levels for those who can’t prove immunity. If nonimmunized people return from abroad from an epidemic area, they should be quarantined for the duration of the incubation period for that disease. If these ideas seem unusually drastic, weigh them against a person’s life.

Among our government’s obligations for protecting public health and safety, the need for gun control is high on the list. Personally, I’d love to repeal the Second Amendment to the Constitution but by means other than a constitutional convention. I chose that alternative method because, given our current political climate, a convention would be the height of folly. It could take up issues beyond the repeal of one amendment and could conceivably throw out the whole thing.

Since my solution is unlikely to happen, I think we still need much more regulation, but it should be attacked piece-meal to avoid one provision scuttling the whole effort.

We should begin with three separate bills outlawing bump stocks, assault rifles of any sort and large magazines for handguns. Each should include buy-back provisions that makes continuing ownership of such firearms and munitions illegal. We should require that all firearms of any sort be kept under lock and key when not in use. Owners should be liable for any injury or deaths resulting from others using that person’s weapons — not only with restitution but careless persons should also be subject to arrest for a felony.

Let’s join in insisting that public safety receive the attention it must have from all levels of government. To pander to the NRA is a serious dereliction of duty and lawmakers should be held accountable. Human lives are at stake.

Lenna Harding lived her first 20 and past 43 years in Pullman. A longtime League of Women Voters member, she served on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center board. Email her at

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