Thank the lawyersThe recent article describing the...

the Forum

December 08, 1992

Thank the lawyers

The recent article describing the contract settlement between the Musicians' Union and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra ("BSO Musicians Ratify Contract, Agree to Cut in Pay," Nov. 18) accurately summarized the terms of the agreement

However, I would like to mention that in addition to months of careful effort on the part of the musicians and management, the negotiations were greatly aided by the efforts of New York attorney Leonard Leibowitz, representing the musicians, and Robert Hillman of Whiteford, Taylor and Preston for management.

Mr. Hillman's services, comprising hundreds of hours of work, were entirely donated to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

John Gidwitz

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Right-to-die bill drafters continue work

May I take this opportunity to supplement the recently published discussion I had with your reporter, Norris West, regarding the health care decision-making bill now in discussion for submission to the General Assembly.

The bill will respond to the need to clarify this law expressed by various interested groups and individuals to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in the 1992 session.

Those interested in greater medical decision choice include the attorney general, respected legislators including Senators Michael Collins and Paula Hollinger, leaders of our state and local bar associations, health care providers, physicians and academicians, as well as individual citizens and citizen organizations concerned about controlling their own health care decision making.

The Conference of Circuit Judges is also involved, primarily interested in the guardianship aspects of health care decision-making, including standards for life-support maintenance and withdrawal.

A cooperative effort was encouraged by Sen. Walter Baker, chair of the committee, and Sen. John Pica, chair of its subcommittee. We have been greatly assisted by the commitment of Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., whose talented assistant, Jack Schwartz, chief counsel of the opinions and advice unit, continues to do invaluable work in pursuing a responsible consensus favoring a bill which respects both the important constitutional interest every citizen has in health care decision making and the traditional public interest in life preservation, prevention of suicide, the integrity of the medical profession and protection of dependent minors.

The drafting committee also includes Howard L. Sollins, chair of the health law section of the Maryland State Bar Association; Dr. George Taler, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Walter McQuie, of the Maryland Disability Law Center.

The work continues as the drafting committee receives important suggestions from a variety of respected commentators.

John Carroll Byrnes

Baltimore

The writer is a judge of the Circuit Court for Baltimore and chairman of the committee that is drafting a right-to-die bill.

Misleading list

Great Britain and Israel are among the 10 worst violators of human rights, according to Amnesty International. On Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, Amnesty International plans to lead vigils at 10 embassies and the U.S. Supreme Court to call attention to the need to continue the struggle against violators of human rights. The embassies they have targeted are those of Guatemala, Sudan, Uganda, Myanmar, China, United Kingdom, Mexico, Syria and Israel.

How does a country make such a list? Amnesty International appears to be saying that people in countries on that list suffer the worst violations of human rights of all the countries in the world.

It means that, according to Amnesty International, the United Kingdom and Israel, two countries with strong democratic institutions, are closer to dictatorships, such as those of China and Syria, than they are to countries such as Sweden or France.

It means that Amnesty International believes Israel and Great Britain violate human rights more than Yugoslavia, Somalia, Iraq, South Africa, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and a host of other countries that consistently violate the rights of minorities, women and aliens.

Amnesty International apparently makes no distinction between countries that have free elections, a free press and an independent judiciary and countries that lack those institutions.

When organizations that speak in the name of human rights act with so little regard for the facts, the legitimacy of their mission is destroyed.

Rita J. Simon

Washington D.C.

The writer is a professor in the School of Public Affairs of American University.

Seasonal spirit

The holiday season is upon us. Lighted trees, menorahs and window candles are appearing as if by magic. The malls are crowded and shoppers act as if they were participating in some sort of aboriginal rite-of-passage.

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