Bad AdviceI regret that your March 4 article revealing the...


April 19, 1993

Bad Advice

I regret that your March 4 article revealing the discovery of the gene for Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) included the advice, "This knowledge can help in decisions about whether to bear children or whether to carry on a pregnancy when the fetus has been shown to carry the mutation."

I had been a neurology nurse at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston caring for ALS patients and participating in research efforts to find a cure when one of my own favorite aunts contracted the disease.

My decision to be a nurse, my view of the world and my faith were all influenced by this great woman who loved life, literature and all she met.

She was the eldest daughter in a family of 11 children. When her mother became very ill, she became a surrogate mother for her siblings and later, a maternal figure to her nieces and nephews.

Living in Chicago, she was a shining light in a city clouded by racial unrest, traveling into neighborhoods forbidden to those of the "wrong color" to attend the wake or funeral of the family of one of her co-workers or to visit a sick friend.

As the ALS crept over each muscle leaving arms, legs and even tongue unmoving, her faith was undiminished and ours was strengthened. If only this knowledge could be given to those deciding whether to have children or whether to carry on a pregnancy. But there is no gene for this, no gene to reveal the story of a life.

Marie T. Nolan


False Memories

Thank you for calling attention to a serious problem in the article "Truth and Memory" (March 29), which suggests that some memories of childhood sexual abuse may not be true.

Two families in my extended family, and the family of a close friend, are being torn apart by accusations that I believe to be absolutely untrue. The heartbreak of being accused of a crime one did not commit, by a much-loved daughter, can hardly be overstated.

The principle of being assumed innocent until one is proven guilty is completely disregarded in these cases where parents are simply proclaimed guilty by a troubled adult child.

Every parent of a grown child who is experiencing problems would do well to consider how he or she would react if such accusations were made by a daughter (or, rarely I believe, a son). How would one prove one's innocence? The answer is, it is not possible.

I believe most parents in our society love their children and try hard to do their best as parents. Of course there are exceptions, but I believe focusing on child abuse has become a preoccupation in our society and has encouraged the mind-set that accepts every accusation of abuse as true.

I am angry at the suffering this has caused to good and loving parents who are dear to me. I am glad that some have dried their tears and begun to work together to support each other in the midst of their pain.

I am only sorry that your article did not include information about how to contact the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. The address is: 3401 Market Street, Suite 130, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104.

Marilyn Kieffaber


Debating Shepard

It seems to me that The Sun is either minimizing or ignoring the candidacy of William S. Shepard among the "serious" candidates for the Republican nomination for governor.

Not only did he win the nomination in 1990, but, amazingly, got 40 percent of the vote in the general election against the then popular incumbent, Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Bill Shepard has been actively debating the leading Democrat candidates, who recognize that he is not only a worthy opponent but a serious one.

Lt. Gov. Melvin "Mickey" Steinberg, Attorney General Joseph Curran, and Prince George's County Executive Parris Glendening have all recently debated statewide issues with him.

Now Baltimore City Mayor Kurt Schmoke has declared his interest in the governorship.

We know that Mayor Schmoke is knowledgeable about urban issues, but he has not stated his position on statewide issues like taxes and budget matters.

I would urge Mayor Schmoke to demonstrate his grasp of statewide issues and join the other Democratic candidates in engaging Bill Shepard in debate.

No doubt radio and television stations would extend invitations for such a debate. The Sun can then provide their readers with the news coverage that this debate would generate.

We need more information on Mayor Schmoke's views on statewide issues. He can get his feet wet by debating with Republican Bill Shepard.

Samuel A. Culotta


Farm Pollution

Farmers work diligently to keep fertilizers and wastes on the farm. Your editorial of March 29 leaves the impression of deliberate pollution. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The 40-percent nitrogen loading you attribute to agriculture is computer model generated. Site-specific testing does not exist on any significant basis. That 40 percent includes rural area housing and developments with septic systems. Nitrogen-loading from rainfall is a major contributor, up to 35 percent, and is included in this EPA figure.

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