Facing yet another vote that will determine the quality of Portland’s drinking water, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom and oppression.

I remember being at a UN Peace Day event where one woman told a gut wrenching story of religious oppression in which missionaries used physical torture to force her grandparents (then living with their North West Native American tribe on their ancestral land) to adopt their beliefs. As she spoke, I felt such great relief at the blessing of living in time where we are allowed to follow our own beliefs.

It’s the American story with which so many of us can identify. Yet, it’s not the whole story because we are not free when outside forces try to control our personal choices. We are not free when our beliefs are oppressed by others. We are not free when dangerous chemicals are added to our food and water supplies against our will.

I remember hearing one KBOO radio guest arguing in favor of adding fluoride chemicals to the municipal water supply, citing an example of how the Native American population (with whom she worked) refused to take fluoride pills. By adding this chemical to the water supply, she explained, they would be forced to take them. She argued in favor of forcing people, against their will, to do something that she believed was in their best interest. The scenario she outlined sounded eerily similar to the story of religious oppression mentioned earlier. Each story focused on using force to deny basic human rights. This is wrong.

The people of Portland will soon vote, for the fourth time, on whether to approve the addition of fluoride chemicals to our city drinking water. The first three times this legislation was voted down by the people, but the City Council of Portland pushed it through anyway. In response, the people of Portland spoke up and made our voices heard by gathering twice the number of signatures needed to bring the issue back for a public vote.

It is imperative that the citizens of Portland understand that we face oppression if we allow dangerous fluoride chemicals to be added to our municipal water supply.

I and others who are informed about this issue can cite studies, including a recent study from Harvard, showing that ingesting fluoride can lower IQ, damage the endocrine system as well as negatively affect kidneys, liver, and bone health.

In other studies it was found that “Fluoride – found in toothpaste, fluoridated water, and non-organic food (due to the widespread use of fluoride-based pesticides. For example, conventionally-grown iceberg lettuce can contain as much as 180 ppm of fluoride – 180 times higher than what’s recommended in drinking water)” Excerpt from Dr. Mercola 4/23/13

What is going to happen to the people who cannot afford to buy organic food?

They are going to be seriously overdosed with Fluoride.

However, if you personally believe that fluoride is beneficial, the government will provide you with fluoride tablets at no cost. That way, your choice doesn’t have to impose on my rights.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with fluoridation, perhaps we can agree that we all deserve the right to choose what we put in our bodies.

This basic human right is at stake.

Susan Bass