Ethicist zeal can subvert basic freedomsA Cook County...

the Forum

January 03, 1994

Ethicist zeal can subvert basic freedoms

A Cook County judge upheld an Illinois woman's right to refuse a Caesarean section designed to save the life of her fetus. Her refusal was based on religious beliefs.

Yet in "One mother, 2 lives" (Other Voices, Dec. 22), Arthur Caplan questions the woman's interpretation of her church's teachings and suggests that the court should have "insisted" that she receive counseling from religious leaders and church members.

While I share Mr. Caplan's concern that the woman make an informed decision, I reject his call to make the state an agent of the church.

It is not the role of the court to "insist" that citizens get proper religious instruction.

I am frightened by ethicists who cavalierly subvert larger principles, such as religious freedom and the separation of church and state, in order to fashion their codes of ethics.

Kenneth Marsalek

Baltimore

Welfare or warfare

I do not recall who said, ''Taxes are the price we pay to keep poor people quiet,'' but it is an accurate though harshly-phrased observation.

Ultimately, this nation will have to decide whether we are prepared to pay for social welfare, or to continue paying for social warfare as we are now doing.

This is a certainty. One way or the other, the taxpayer picks up the tab.

Myron Subotnik

Baltimore

Welfare truths

Finally you had a writer with enough intestinal fortitude to write how a vast majority of Americans feel about welfare. In his Dec. 9 article, "Push hard! You're making three copies," James Lileks was not worried about being P.C.

Bravo for sociologist Charles Murray for showing such compassion. This may be the only chance for some of these children to become healthy, happy and productive adults, rather than being kept dependent and oppressed by so called do-gooders and advocates of welfare and dependency.

M. Shaw

Hanover

Gay non-issue

Someday we'll look back and wonder what the fuss over gays in the military was about and why the government wasted so much time and money on a non-issue.

People should be judged on their performance. It's wrong, unconstitutional and harmful to our society to discriminate against highly qualified individuals whose conduct is exemplary merely because of their sexual preference, religion, racial origin or gender.

This is not an issue on which politicians should be allowed to compromise, or where differences can be split or where improvement-by-nibbling is acceptable.

A federal appeals court said that equal protection guarantees under the Fifth Amendment prevent the government from removing members of the military because they said they were homosexuals.

A federal district court ruled that the military's ban on homosexuals is unconstitutional and ordered the military to cease discrimination.

It's time to stop wasting resources and to celebrate our tolerance and diversity.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

Ahead of its time?

There never has been an entertainment center in Baltimore as exciting and as wonderful as the Fishmarket was.

Never did our city have such a variety of entertainment under one roof.

What went wrong? Was the Fishmarket ahead of its time?

You could take anyone there without any embarrassment.

It was poor public relations that so many people did not know this unparalleled entertainment existed. What a delightful place it was.

ileen O'Connor

Ocean City

Pass a tougher Endangered Species Act

Dec. 28 marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Endangered Species Act. On this anniversary, America must reaffirm its commitment to species conservation.

The Endangered Species Act, the crown jewel of national environmental legislation, was passed by Congress and signed by President Nixon in recognition that "various species . . . have been rendered extinct as a consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation."

This visionary act acknowledges the aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational and scientific value of diverse species and attempts to provide a means to protect endangered species and their habitat.

For all its vision, however, the act does not do enough. A study published last month in "Science" magazine concluded, "The Endangered Species Act is an extremely valuable tool, but . . . it's simply being overwhelmed."

There is a backlog of over 3,000 species that will be lost to us forever before any action is taken on them.

In Maryland the track record for the act has already been proven. In 1977, only four pairs of bald eagles nested in our state. After being included in the Endangered Species Act, the bald eagle population rose to 128 pairs by 1991. They are nesting in all Maryland's coastal counties and in Montgomery County.

Similar success has occurred with the Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel and the piping plover.

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