Missing letters

Imagine a world where the letters A, B and O have gone missing. For example: _meric_n Red Cr_ss. You can’t help but notice that something is off. These aren’t just random letters. A, B and O are the letters that make up the major blood groups, and when there’s a blood shortage, types A, B, O and AB blood really can go missing from hospital shelves.

This summer, the Red Cross will launch our second annual Missing Types campaign to encourage blood donations. To help raise awareness for the need for blood donors, businesses, organizations and individuals across the country — including local partners The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal — are joining the Missing Types movement by removing the A’s, B’s and O’s from signage, websites and social media.

The goal of Missing Types is to get people to take notice and take action by donating blood. The need for this campaign is real. Each year, more than 21 million blood components are transfused to U.S. patients, with the Red Cross providing about 40% of that supply. Despite blood’s lifesaving role, only 3 out of 100 people in the U.S. give blood each year. Blood donations help people undergoing cancer treatment, those receiving organ transplants, accident victims and other patients.

As CEO of the New Hampshire and Vermont Region of the Red Cross, I meet so many people whose lives have been impacted, if not saved, by blood transfusions. On behalf of the Red Cross, I’m inviting you to help fill the Missing Types by giving blood this summer.

Patricia Murtagh

Chief Executive Officer

American Red Cross Maine Region

Early first trimester OK

I support abortion in certain situations, with those situations being rape, and to save the mother's life. Abortion due to rape should be done in the first trimester, and to save the mother's life should be done in the first trimester as well. Abortion should not be used as a form of birth control; however, I don't think it should be made completely illegal. Here's why I think this.

It has been proven that fetuses will feel pain during an abortion. Maureen Condic (who has a PhD and is an associate professor of neurology and anatomy) says that the spinal reflex is the earliest response to pain and developed by the eighth week of pregnancy. Also, embryos are shown to be genetically different from the mothers, and thus not simply a part of her body. Doctors utilize certain criteria to show if someone is dead, but if they were used to confirm life, then they would be considered alive at approximately 43 days into the pregnancy at latest, as that is when brain waves are detected from the unborn child (brain waves are usually used to determine life/death).

I feel that the facts all lead to the conclusion stated in my first paragraph, and based on the facts I find that second and third trimester abortions are extremely wrong to do, and early first trimester is the best time to do an abortion.

Should a fetus be considered a human being? Well, that's up for grabs. I say yes (at least, after 43 days into the pregnancy) but some may think otherwise. Abortion has been controversial even before Roe v. Wade, and there is no doubt for me that it will continue to be for a long time.

Shane Stanhope

Troy Howard Middle School student


Why I'm pro-life

Recently my classmates and I participated in a salon discussing controversial topics and my topic was abortion. This topic is very important to me as a pro-lifer and would like to spread awareness of abortion. My research will show the downside of abortion and why I think people should not have them.

Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy by the extraction of an embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the womb. Since 1973 over 57 million babies have had their lives taken away from them. I believe abortion is murder; killing an innocent life is wrong. Unborn babies are considered human beings by the U.S. government and it is not right to treat them any less than that.

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center believes that there will be excruciating and severe pain to the fetus in the abortion process when the abortion is performed late-term. Usually, when 20 weeks or older, the baby can feel when they are being ripped limb from limb.

Some people have abortions because of the baby's abnormalities. The National Down Syndrome Society states "people with Down syndrome live at home with their families and are active participants in the recreational, vocational social and education activities of the community. People with Down are valued members of their families and communities." Over 80% of women choose to abort Down syndrome babies and therefore the population of people with Down syndrome dropped 15% from 1980 to 2005.

Abortions can lead to future health problems for the mother. The Journal of Epidemiology published a study that estimated that 15% of first trimester miscarriages have happened from the mother having had an abortion before.

There are many ways that we can prevent unwanted children from being aborted. Putting the baby up for adoption is one good option. Many families who can't have children want to adopt; about 2.6 million Americans. The number of children adopted has dropped from 90,000 in 1971 to 18,329 in 2014. Being vigilant about using birth control is also a way to stop abortions from happening.

I would love for my research to be in the Journal and for it to make a difference in our community.

Sydney Marriner

Troy Howard Middle School student


Designer babies

If you could have your baby be smart, athletic and immune to most diseases, would you want that?

There are some problems though; first of all, what we are talking about is a gray area in science that we still don't know much about. A scientist can not get all the DNA 100% right all the time; there is a high chance that there might be some mistakes.

Is the chance of mistakes worth the outcome? You could have your perfect child, in looks, in intelligence and athletic ability. You could choose if your baby has blue eyes and brown hair or more importantly your child would be immune to most genetic diseases that are usually passed down by the parent like anemia, obesity, diabetes and cancer. Designer babies could increase the human potential, not only in ability but also in age. If we start having designer babies it is said that the human lifespan will increase up to 30 years.

The drawbacks to designer babies do not just end with the risk of making mistakes, because we are still so unfamiliar with this part of science we do not know how designer babies will affect the human gene pool. In addition to that, there will be people who will not have designer babies whether it is because they can't afford it or because they choose not to. This may cause a prejudice between designer babies and normal babies and that will cause a whole new type of social imbalance.

The process of designing a baby is not an easy one. To find out which embryo has the disease of genetic mutation they start with removing some of the mother's eggs in a process called IVF or in vitro fertilization. (This process is also used to help people who cannot have children by fertilizing the eggs in a lab.) Once taken out of the mother they scan the embryo with PGS or pre-implantation genetic screening to find out which embryo has the disease or genetic mutation. Then they choose an egg that does not have the disease or genetic mutation. (Once in the lab they can also change different genes in the embryo relating to eye color, hair color, intelligence, although this has not been done yet but will be possible in the future.) This is the process that they used to make the first designer baby, Adam Nash.

Adam Nash was the first designer baby and was born in 2000. A genetics institute in Chicago used genetic screening to pick an embryo from Adam's mother that did not have the chronic disease called Fanconi anemia, a rare disease that Adam's sister Molly suffered from. After being born, the stem cells in Adam's umbilical cord were used to cure his sister of the disease. This also granted him the title of the first savior sibling.

A savior sibling is a type of designer baby. They are made when some parents who have children who are seriously ill try to save them with genetic testing. They have a second child and use screening to make sure that child does not have the disease that their first child has and that is has the same blood type. After the child is born, the child could be an organ donor. This does not kill the child; they donate things like bone marrow and in Adam Nash's case his stem cells in his umbilical cord.

Although we are not at the point where we can full-on design a baby from intellect to looks, that seems to be where we are heading in the future and we might be getting there quicker than you think. Which starts to pose the question is it right to have the ability to fully design your future child? Parents will seek out designer babies so their child could have a certain eye color or other specific traits and ability, and is that really right?

Once we have the technology to make designer babies, parent are unlikely to select diversity for their children. After a while society might change and that might be a problem because it is harder for a uniform population to adapt. Without diversity, there is no evolution. This is the problem with creating a future race of perfect children. My generation and the generation after will have to debate and and talk about this problem and hopefully come up with some type of solution. This is our future and we should be informed about it because topics like designer babies don't have just one right answer.

Jacey Bock

Troy Howard Middle School student


Bikes for Books thanks

I would like to express my appreciation to the Marsh River Masonic Lodge 102, and the whole statewide Masonic organization for their generous Bikes for Books campaign. My son Hank received a new bicycle and is thrilled. He has been riding it on our porch every day since he won.

What a neat thing the Masons do. Thank you.

Jenny Tibbetts


Vasectomy also a choice

Here’s one response to the letter titled “Getting pregnant is a choice”: Therefore, "SO IS A VASECTOMY.”

Since pregnancy doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it’s strange that the writer doesn’t discuss the man’s responsibility for procreation.

I’ll not debate the issue, being one of those pesky pro-choice people, but I am obviously better informed by being a person who can understand the dangerous consequences of illegal back-alley abortions.

I’ll just point out that our taxes pay for congressional salaries, military budgets, social and medical programs and government departments we may not agree with but we pay them anyway.

How about a law requiring a vasectomy for every man who becomes sexually active, no matter how young? It’s reversible but perhaps also the responsible thing to do. Or would that reflect a gender bias? Or government intrusion into private lives? Hmmm? Sounds familiar.

Phyllis W. Sommer


No reasonable company

In a June 6 Village Soup article, Marianne Naess of Nordic Aquafarms was quoted as saying no reasonable company would submit "applications based on vital information being withheld from the public or the authorities." Naess is right, no reasonable company would do that. And in saying that no reasonable company would do that, Naess explained perfectly why Nordic Aquafarms did that very thing.

Lawrence Reichard


Sick of negativity

When we think of someone “coming out,” we usually relate it to someone’s sexuality, but there are other things a person may be wrestling with, harboring a fear of retribution or shunning, making it difficult for them to “come out.” This is exactly what I see happening in Belfast concerning “coming out” in support of Nordic Aquafarms.

What an upside-down world it is when a small group of angry, mean and deceptive people who have been throwing out everything they can possibly come up with, even hiring a lawyer and suing the city of Belfast, in order to drive Nordic out of town, have also managed to create an atmosphere of fear in our community.

There are many reasons that our community members are hesitant to say out loud that they fully support Nordic Aquafarms. For some the reason is that they own a small business and are afraid that by taking a stand they may lose business. Others have declined to have their name printed in the paper because they don’t want to cause problems with friends or neighbors. Others are afraid to display yard signs in support because of possible retribution.

I sympathize with these people. They tell me that they are glad that some of us are speaking out and keeping the facts straight. They tell me that they absolutely support Nordic but are afraid to publicly say so. In fact the majority of the people in Belfast and beyond DO support this incredible opportunity but have remained the silent majority while watching the antics of the antis over the past 18 months. The silent majority are slowly finding their voice.

As more and more of us reach the point of frustration and downright dismay over the constant slamming of a company that has been open and upfront with their information since the beginning, we are beginning to speak out even though we are uncomfortable doing so. This describes my own personal feelings, but this ridiculous and constant bashing of a company with personal attacks on individual people in the company, put me over the edge and I “came out” with gusto!

I decided that publicly stating my support for Nordic Aquafarms and opening myself up to some uncomfortable situations was worth venturing out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t going to continue to witness the bullying and misrepresentation and not address it.

Maybe some of what I have said speaks to you. If you are one of the silent majority who supports Nordic Aquafarms, aquaculture and the future, please consider speaking up and making that known. I'm really sick of the negativity and doomsday stories. How about you?

Diane Braybrook


Summer Street Party wants you!

The Belfast Summer Street Party 2019 is on! The party gets started Aug. 5 at 5 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. or … the next sunny day. The party will have a smaller footprint this year, staying only on High Street.

This is a call to scout groups, church organizations, civic clubs, etc. We are looking for, and counting on your participation. Can you and your group do something that would interest and entertain the thousands of people who attend the street party? We hope so. We want you.

Food vendors! We’ll have a limited number of local food vendors. Are you interested? Please get in touch ASAP, as we will have limited space and LOW vendor fees.

Mark your calendar. Tell all the kids. The Belfast Summer Street Party is happening the first Monday in August at 5 p.m. on High Street in beautiful downtown Belfast. Call or write for more information. Mike@pilut.com or 338-1975.

Mike Hurley