Roe Re-ReadThis is in response to Jack Fruchtman's letter...


July 02, 1992

Roe Re-Read

This is in response to Jack Fruchtman's letter, "On Actually Reading Roe," which appeared June 23.

Mr. Fruchtman, who calls himself pro-choice but doesn't sound it, says he has read Roe vs. Wade and is unremittingly baffled by the decision. Mr. Fruchtman calls part of Justice Harry Blackmun's opinion in Roe whimsical and odd because it contains medical information.

I, too, have read Roe and find it to be a thoughtful and well-reasoned opinion. The issue in Roe was the constitutionality of a Texas criminal anti-abortion statute.

It is not odd for medical information to appear in legal opinions. This is being done every day in this city, state and country in every case that involves a personal injury (i.e., car accidents).

A good example of this is the asbestos cases being heard in Maryland.

It is the duty of the judge to hear all relevant evidence, including medical evidence, presented. This is usually done through medical experts in conformity with the rules of evidence. The judge must weigh the medical evidence and make a decision. This is not odd. It is the judge's job.

The expert testimony Justice Blackmun considered came from such groups as the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association. His opinion also reviews the ancient law, common law, English statutory law and the American law, as well as the position of the American Bar Association. Justice Blackmun's decision can in no way be characterized as whimsical or odd.

Justice Blackmun concluded there were different theories of when life begins and that the medical, philosophical and theological experts who supported these differing theories could not agree on when "life" begins.

Justice Blackmun found that Texas had adopted one theory of life. And Texas had used that one theory of life to override a woman's right to privacy.

The Texas criminal anti-abortion statute was found to be over-broad and unconstitutional because it did not take into consideration the woman's stage of pregnancy and other interests.

I have read Roe more than once. Roe is a very thoughtful and well-reasoned opinion that takes into consideration the interests of a woman's right to choose and the state's interest in "the potentiality of human life."

Maryland passed a law last year that ensures that the rights articulated in Roe by the Supreme Court in 1973 remain in effect in Maryland, even if, as it just did, the present Supreme Court narrows the scope of Roe.

I'm pro-choice. I intend to vote in favor of keeping our new law in the referendum in November.

Linda Eve Percy


Seeking Fairness

Your June 16 editorial ("Ecker Walks a Tightrope") deplores the fact a mediator recommended all Howard County police officers receive their merit increases July 1 rather than the anniversary date they were first employed. But you failed to mention why the mediator, Seymour Strongin, made the recommendation:

"Given that a number of officers have had no wage increase of any kind for almost two years, and because numerous officers who have anniversary dates during the first quarter of the calendar year would have to wait considerably longer at great hardship with no improvement in wages, the entire negotiated 2.5 percent merit increments, only one-half of the traditional 5 percent figure, should properly and fairly be paid to all officers on July 1, 1992."

Mr. Strongin ruled in our favor on the timing of the increments, but with County Executive Charles Ecker on the length of the contract. We wanted a one-year agreement, but the fact-finder recommended two. Mr. Ecker accepts the fact-finder's judgment he likes -- a two-year-contract -- but rejects the one on timing. He can't have it both ways.

Mr. Ecker insists he treats "all employees the same." But that isn't collective bargaining. A decade ago, voters of Howard County approved a collective bargaining law with impasse procedures when bargaining breaks down. You blithely dismiss our attempt to gain fairness through the system provided us by the voters.

Dale Hill

Ellicott City

The writer is president of the Howard County Police Association.

Died on the 4th

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were elected, respectively, the first and second members to a committee to draft the Declaration of Independence.

The former asked the latter, in deference to him ("our colossus"), to write it. Declined, the salient reason was, "You can write it 10 times better than I can."

Fifty years later they died, one in Virginia, the other in Massachusetts, both on the Fourth of July.

R. D. Reese


Burtnick's Genius

I have read with dismay the article about the "reorganization" in the city comptroller's office.

The abolishment of the position held by Erwin Burtnick of assistant comptroller is a travesty.

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