By Shirley McKibbin, Stevensville
I encourage Ravalli County residents to visit the Ravalli County Watchdog site (https://sites.google.com/a/commongroundbrv.org/rcwatchdog/welcome-page-1) and watch the 8/4/11 video of the BOCC public comment meeting on whether to accept federal Title X funding for the Ravalli County Family Planning Clinic. I attended the meeting and have also viewed the video. I viewed the video again after reading Commissioner Foss’s Guest Comment on the Opinion page in the Wednesday, January 4, 2012 edition of the Bitterroot Star. Compare the two presentations; I think they are radically different concerning the clinic.
To my ears and eyes, Commissioner Foss unequivocally states in the public meeting her complete agreement with fellow Commissioner Kanenwisher’s statement. Briefly he states that “parental notification” is the main issue and is the “deal breaker” for him in accepting the federal grant. Further he states “parental rights… to be of the highest importance.” Commissioner Foss follows Kanenwisher’s statement and says, referencing Kanenwisher’s statement, “That is 100% my stance.” And, “My statement would be exactly the same.” And, “The issue is parental rights and nothing else.”
I do not believe Commissioner Foss when she writes that the reason for seeking private funding “…is because of financial straights…” I do believe her verbal statements concerning her reasons for opposing the federal Title X grant. The classic line, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” applies here, I believe. The next to last line in the Guest Comment, “…there is usually much more to the story than meets the eye” is spot on! Why would a Commissioner encourage a community to seek private funding for a public clinic? The written reason is revisionist history; the video of the public meeting records the reason as a personal belief.
I truly hope all of the Commissioners and the residents of Ravalli County are kind, thoughtful, and generous enough to set aside their own personal belief in regards to services offered by a public health clinic. A public clinic must serve people with a variety of beliefs and it is important that everyone needing access to those services has access. Our personal belief cannot and should not be imposed on anyone else regarding their decisions concerning their own health. The cost to those denied, for any reason, is far greater than anyone can articulate. It is vitally important that we establish the broadest boundaries possible for public services accessed for something as personal and important as one’s health. It is the only way to be inclusive of all of our fellow humans.
Finally, it is the responsibility of elected officials to represent all of the residents of the county, not just those who hold the same personal beliefs as they do, but all of the residents.