Reading your story on abortion in the heartland {Cover, Oct. 2}, it was chilling to realize that 17 years after Roe v. Wade, many women are still forced to travel long distances to exercise their right to abortion. My heart goes out to the women who must endure the hardship and increased cost and health risks that result from anti-abortionists' efforts to make abortion as inaccessible as possible.

If those who are anti-choice are so concerned about reducing the incidence of abortion, why are they doing nothing to solve the crisis in contraception in this country? A recent report by a National Academy of Sciences panel indicates that the U.S. is decades behind Europe in the development of effective contraceptive methods. According to this report, half the abortions in the U.S. each year are sought because of contraceptive failure. And this does not take into consideration women who are unable to use currently available methods.

If anti-abortionists are truly interested in decreasing the numbers of abortions, they would do well to encourage funding for contraceptive research and increase access to birth control. Instead, they threaten to boycott companies that do such research, causing some to discontinue reproductive research entirely.

They also picket and block family planning clinics providing contraception. As a clinic defender and patient escort, I have witnessed attempts to dissuade women not only from seeking abortion but from obtaining birth control that would prevent the need for abortion.

Such actions make it clear that the anti-choice faction is driven less by concern for the fetus than by a desire to control women's reproduction and to impose upon others their beliefs about sexuality and the role of women in this society. Judi Hammett Ellicott City

The article bemoaning the lack of doctors to do abortions was sickening. Thank God there are doctors who don't, or won't, do abortions.

Now please devote four pages to services of groups that encourage women to choose the life-giving option and go to term with their pregnancies. A good place to start would be with the international emergency pregnancy service called Birthright, founded in 1968. St. Ann's Infant and Maternity Home, Bethany Christian Services and Noel House are other possibilities. There is much loving and caring positive assistance available for women with "problem" pregnancies. Elaine R. Shetler Sterling Can Dutch Health System Work Here?

I read with interest Warren Greenberg's commentary on the Dutch health system {Second Opinion, Sept. 25}. It is notable, however, that the Dutch government plan, while possibly appropriate to the Dutch medical environment, is likely to be unsuccessful if brought to the United States.

The writer observes that costs would be controlled by competition among health insurers, as well as by limits on the use of the most expensive technology. He does not, however, to address the likely escalating costs of physician care that would appear under the proposed plan.

When employers finance part of a health care plan covering their employees, financial pressure can be brought to bear on the insurance company and the health care- dispensing fraternity.

Without the employer in the middle of the arrangement, an adversarial relationship develops between the patient and the insurance company over access to claims dollars. The patient is at the mercy of the insurance company. If the physician is not paid, he will pursue the individual who is denied claim coverage.

Insurance costs might be kept in check, but the patient would have no advocate in the event of contested coverage denial. The patient pays insurance premiums, as well as supplemental physician bills when claims are denied or reimbursement is only partial. Only through the coordinated and collective financial "muscle" of employers can fairness be imparted and costs kept under control. Edward H. Friend Actuary Public sector employee benefits consultant Washington Chicken Skin and Chicken Fat

The article on cooking chicken with the skin intact {Health Plus, Oct. 9} cites a recent study by the Washington-based National Broiler Council, which says that the skin does not add fat to the meat if removed before eating.

Consumers should be wary of such statements. For instance, contrary to what the council would have us believe, chicken is not lower in cholesterol than beef, pork or veal. Chicken contains 25 milligrams of cholesterol per ounce, the same amount as beef and pork. Nor is chicken a low-fat food. A 4-ounce meal of skinless roast chicken adds more than 30 extra grams of fat and almost 400 extra calories every week, compared to the same size serving of beans. Like all meat, chicken is permeated by inherent fat and cholesterol and has no carbohydrate or fiber. Karen Davis President United Poultry Concerns Inc. A nonprofit educational consumer organization Germantown

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