No Help Needed
Editor: The Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore recently announced a plan ("Church launches assistance project for after abortion," Jan. 19) that purports to help women who have had abortions. Too bad the program comes a day late and a dollar short.
Despite what those who are opposed to legal abortion would like people to believe about those of us who support choice, nobody thinks abortion in and of itself is a good thing. To be sure, the abortion decision is often accompanied by sadness over what cannot or ought not be. Still, abortion is an option that a woman, at a particular time and in particular circumstances, sometimes feels she must choose.
No abortion brings a woman joy, success, or fulfillment. But what is more, medical and psychological experts agree, neither does an abortion generally engender ill effects, either physically or emotionally.
In fact, a panel convened by the American Psychological Association unanimously concluded in 1989 that "legal abortion, particularly in the first trimester, does not create psychological hazards for most women undergoing the procedure. The studies we reviewed consistently showed the incidence of several negative reactions to be low and the predominant feeling following abortion to be relief and happiness. Some women report feelings of sadness, regret, anxiety, or guilt, but these tend to be mild."
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, himself as anti-choice as the president for whom he worked, declined to submit a
report Ronald Reagan had requested on the psychological consequences of abortion, saying there existed no conclusive evidence that pregnancy termination caused negative health effects. Instead, a draft of the report called for a comprehensive approach to preventing abortion, through contraceptive research, sex education and programs to subsidize the cost of childbearing and care for women who decide to carry unplanned pregnancies to term.
Church leaders who truly care about the health and welfare of women and children would do well to redirect their considerable resources to this sensible, workable, much needed approach. What women really need is a program that helps them before they must chose to terminate a pregnancy.
Mary Jean Collins.
The writer is deputy director of Catholics for a Free Choice.
The B&O Lives
Editor: The departure of CSX from Baltimore draws our attention on two fronts: Not only do we mark with sadness the loss of a major business entity, but we feel a tug of nostalgia as we bid farewell to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
American railroading took its first great leap when the B&O, the nation's first common carrier railroad, was chartered in Baltimore in 1827.
Today transportation conglomerate CSX -- of which the old B&O is a fragment -- is pulling out of Baltimore.
But is the B&O entirely gone? Many Baltimoreans may not be aware of the legacy of Oscar G. Murray, president of the B&O from 1904 until 1910.
In his will, Mr. Murray provided for the formation of a charitable trust fund to aid needy widows and orphans of B&O employees. This fund, steadfast in its purpose for over 70 years, has since 1976 operated as a component fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation.
Information supplied by Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland helps a committee of volunteers select infirm and destitute individuals to receive aid from the Murray Fund. The average recipient is in her 80s, suffering from a chronic health condition and has an average monthly income of $300.
Some beneficiaries of the fund receive a monthly stipend; others receive one-time cash grants to help pay health care bills, fuel bills or emergency home repairs. Case-workers' support is yet another kind of aid provided. In all, over $140,000 in assistance is supplied each year by the Murray Fund, which has grown to nearly $2.4 million.
Because of the unique characteristics of community foundations, Oscar G. Murray's concern and generosity will continue to bear fruit even when no widows or orphans of B&O employees remain. Community foundations are vested with the responsibility -- and the flexibility -- to perpetuate a donor's intent by re-directing funds to similar purposes when the original mission can no longer be carried out.
Thus the B&O Railroad will forever endure in Baltimore through the Murray Fund, administered by the Baltimore Community Foundation in perpetuity.
Herbert M. Katzenberg.
The writer is vice chairman of the Baltimore Community Foundation.
Editor: Animals do not belong in circuses. This recently was made abundantly clear when Kelley, a 20-year-old Indian elephant, went on a rampage through the big top in Palm Bay, Fla.
Animals are not here for our entertainment. They have intrinsic value, each and every one. Their worth is not a measure of their ability to please us, to work for us, to feed us or to dress us.