Editor: Columnist Sara Engram ('Voting on Dying,'' Oct. 13) should note that the Washington State Medical Association is not alone in opposing the legalization of physician participation in mercy killing. The American Medical Association and the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland likewise are unalterably against legalization of physician involvement in destruction of life.
I have no quarrel with the ''American people. . . demanding more control over end of life decisions.'' But just as they may be refused treatments that are not appropriate, so should individual physicians act to relieve the dying patient of his physical and emotional pains in an understanding and effective manner, as well as console the family.
The legalization of mercy killing, as espoused by Washington Initiative 119, should be left to executioners, not physicians.
Louis C. Breschi, M.D.
The writer is chairman of the committee on professional ethics of the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland.
Editor: A recent editorial portrayed local boards of education as unresponsive to the current economic crunch. On the contrary, boards are painfully aware of revenue shortfalls.
Last fiscal year, a number of boards responded to their local governments' requests and voluntarily returned appropriated local funds. Examples are: Anne Arundel, $8 million; Howard County, $2.6 million; Prince George's County, over $6 million and Frederick County, $1.2 million.
This year a number of boards received less local funding than last, in spite of substantial increases in student populations. Moreover, boards are currently identifying where they can cut nearly $30 million in previously authorized, but now rescinded, state funds. Additionally, boards of education anticipate being required to share in the funding cuts that the local governments have sustained.
The real issue is not whether cuts will be made, but who will make the decisions.
I share your belief that local boards should make the decisions. As boards strive to meet the state and national education goals, they will be held accountable and therefore must be permitted to set priorities.
Susan R. Buswell.
The writer is executive director of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.
Black Marsh = Rich Opportunity
Editor: Last spring, a Sun editorial, "Building Natural Ecosystems," described two fascinating projects restoring Illinois savannah and prairie ecology in several locations near Chicago. Species of plants long absent from these areas were reintroduced, nature was given a free hand and within years, ancient ecosystems began to function with the return "as if by magic" of previously missing insects, birds, animals and plants.
At North Point State Park near Fort Howard, Marylanders in Baltimore and Baltimore County have a similar opportunity right on their own doorstep. If we forego proposed waterfront development, roads, buildings and parking lots which would fragment the southern portion of the park, an unbroken 800-acre stretch of woodlands, marsh and field will be free to develop into a rich, integrated ecosystem reminiscent of the coastal forests and marshes of colonial days.
Several unique features make this area enormously attractive for natural restoration:
* Diversity. The waterfront zone contains forests, fields, fresh water marshes and salt water marshes, some bordering on sheltered waters and others on the Chesapeake Bay.
* Isolation. Much of the area is a peninsula jutting into the bay, protected by three miles of shoal-water boundaries relatively free of boating activity. This makes possible a high degree of insulation from damaging human activity.
* State of preservation. Forty years of relatively benign occupancy by Bethlehem Steel have left the salt marshes almost undisturbed; much of the forest area, although partially logged, has had 20 or more years to begin its comeback.
* Size. An integrated natural area including both Black Marsh and the southern peninsula bordering on Shallow Creek would constitute an unbroken strip of land one-half to three-quarter miles wide extending two miles along the bay. This is by far the largest piece of undeveloped coastal land in the Baltimore area.
The park already contains a variety of plant, bird, insect and animal species, some of them rare. It provides wetlands for crabs, spawning fish and many other kinds of marine life and serves as an important stop for migrating birds and waterfowl. I ++ find it tantalizing to contemplate the quantity and diversity of life that the Black Marsh area could produce if supported by the kind of imagination, care and flexibility employed in the Illinois
Daniel S. Lynch.
The writer is vice president of the Coalition to Preserve Black Marsh.
Schaefer's Pay: No Big Thing