Letters: Final indignity: No help for poor to pay burials

SHARE Letters: Final indignity: No help for poor to pay burials
SHARE Letters: Final indignity: No help for poor to pay burials

More than 50 years ago, a Boston attorney named Joseph N. Welch stopped Sen. Joseph McCarthy in his tracks with the words: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” It is time to ask Gov. Bruce Rauner the same question.

It makes no sense to cut services to youth between 18 and 21, substance abusers, the mentally ill, and those with HIV, autism, and epilepsy, as the governor is doing. These cuts will cost the state more in services later than the money saved now. Not smart.

But in announcing that Illinois will no longer fund funeral and burial costs to the indigent, Gov. Rauner has crossed a special threshold of callousness.

People in the funeral business have told me that the most vulnerable are the aged who die alone, without family, in nursing homes. Their bodies very often will be turned away by funeral homes and shipped to county morgues. At that point, it is not clear what will happen.

Other cuts are larger than this $7 million line item. Some may hurt more people. But there are certain things the state should guarantee as a matter of basic decency. Burying our truly indigent with dignity is one of them.

Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, Hyde Park

Former executive director, Protestants for the Common Good

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Pension crisis goes way back

For years our political parties have played footloose and fancy-free with funds that should have gone into pension accounts. They have misappropriated the money to their particular perks and cronies. This is not a new crisis; the crises developed several administrations ago, both city and state, when pension funds were diverted to other expenditures.

Many of the same legislatures have watched this crisis become acute and they continued to misuse pension funds. Now these same politicians who created the deficit want pensioners to absorb the insufficiency. The state and city administrations should be held accountable for their mismanagement, not penalize the legitimate pensioners who paid their pension contributions.

John Culloton, Norwood Park

Send donations to (cord-blood) bank

This Mother’s Day, I’d like to thank all the expectant mothers who plan to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood to a public cord-blood bank, such as the Institute for Transfusion Medicine Cord Blood Services.

Your compassion means that someone with a life-threatening disease may get a second chance at life. Donated cord blood that meets the requirements can be listed on the Be The Match Registry and made available to anyone who needs a blood stem cell transplant. Cord blood, usually disposed of after birth, is rich in blood-forming cells and can be used to help treat more than 70 different diseases, including leukemia and other blood cancers.

Cord blood donations are especially needed from African-American and Asian communities, as patients within these communities have difficulty finding donor matches.

There is no cost to donate to a public cord-blood bank and donation is safe for moms and babies. Cord blood is collected right after birth and does not change the labor or delivery.

There is no greater gift than the gift of life. In 2014, ITxM Cord Blood Services banked 111 cord blood units from generous moms in Chicago and surrounding areas and shipped 16 units for transplants, but more donations are needed to help save more lives. Visit http://www.givecord.org or BeTheMatch.org/cord to learn more.

Linda Hahn, vice president of clinical services

Institute for Transfusion Medicine

Leading lady for 2020

Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., introduced a bill to have a woman replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill by 2020, to coincide with the centenary of women’s suffrage. Notables like Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks are leading to be the first women on our paper currency since Martha Washington in 1896.

My pick is former Montana Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, who served two terms in the U.S. House, 1917 to 1919 and 1941 to 1943. Before Congress, Rankin eschewed marriage and family to earn a college degree and work full time as a lobbyist for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Their victory in Montana is what allowed her into Congress before universal suffrage.

In 1917, Rankin was one of 50 members of Congress who voted against President Wilson’s declaration of war against Germany. The majority vote for senseless war was one of the worst decisions in American history. Her nay vote sealed her defeat in 1918. She spent the next 22 years working tirelessly for peace and the rights of women and children.

In 1940, the cause of peace made her run for Congress again. She won and got the chance to vote against our last declared war against Japan. Facing hisses and calls demanding she change her vote to make it unanimous, she said: “As a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.” Then she ran from a mob out for blood, hiding in a phone both and calling the cops for protection. Bounced from Congress again in 1942, Rankin soldiered on for her causes of peace and justice for another 31 years.

Rankin’s story is largely written out of the American story that glorifies war and papers over our denial of full civil rights to all throughout our history, whether based on race, gender or sexual orientation. Putting Rankin on the paper 20 will be a fitting way to right that story. It will make me and every peace-loving and inclusive American proud every time we spot her awesome, courageous visage for the rest of our lives.

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn


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