Justice Blackmun praised, criticized for landmark opinion
With the death of Justice Harry Blackmun, American has lost one of its greatest champions of women's rights.
For nearly 25 year on the high court, Justice Blackmun's eloquence and concern for the underdog shaped many rulings, but his legacy is his authorship of the landmark Roe vs. Wade case, recognizing the right of women to choose abortion. The ruling has had great positive impact on the lives and health of women.
For his insight, Justice Blackmun and his family suffered through death threats, gunshots and other forms of the domestic terrorism. Yet he remained steadfast in his support for this landmark decision.
In 1996, Planned Parenthood Federation of America awarded Justice Blackmun the Margaret Sanger Award, Planned Parenthood's highest honor. The award was inscribed:
"For outstanding lifelong contributions to protecting reproductive rights, on behalf of millions of women and men worldwide who have benefited from his courage and conviction."
Life before Roe vs. Wade meant death and serious injury to millions of women who sought back-alley abortions. Justice Blackmun recognized that reproductive rights was not only a necessary part of a woman's health and well-being, but that it offered control over her destiny. Planned Parenthood of Maryland is saddened by the loss of Justice Blackmun.
Roberta Antoniotti, Baltimore
The writer is President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland.
In your editorial on the death of Justice Harry A. Blackmun "Champion of personal liberties" (March 5), you quoted the author of Roe vs. Wade as saying shortly before retirement, when he reversed a acceptance of capital punishment: "I no longer shall tinker with machinery of death."
Justice Blackmun certainly tinkered with death when he crafted the infamous Roe vs. Wade ruling, which has been responsible for the abortion of more than 37 million babies since January 1973.
George T. Murray, Odenton
Building was sentenced to demolition for drugs
I see where the powers that be have found a Park Heights area building to be guilty of a crime and sentenced it to be demolished ("Demolition of grocery store ordered," March 2). This should shake up those naughty drug dealers.
Jerome Settleman, Baldwin
Banneker, Jefferson article is for English, history class
The Sun is to be commended for the wonderful article "Two letters offer intriguing look at issue of race" (Feb. 28) about Benjamin Banneker and Thomas Jefferson.
I plan to suggest to the chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools that this article be used in high school history and English classes.
Charles E. Brown, Baltimore
People infected with HIV must notify their partners
Thomas Goldwasser's Opinion Commentary article "We know how to curb the spread of AIDS" (March 2) is misleading. The article implies that HIV continues to spread because people willfully refuse to inform their sex partners of HIV risk. HIV is far more complex.
Injection drug use accounts for 48 percent of all new cases of AIDS in Maryland. Drug users share needles because of policies that make it illegal to possess and carry injection equipment for use with illegal drugs. Needle-exchange programs like the one in Baltimore can reduce the number of new HIV infections in drug users.
Maryland requires HIV-positive people to inform their sex and drug-using partners whom they may have exposed to HIV. Public health officers help HIV-positive people contact their partners.
Those who may have been exposed to HIV need to discover whether they are infected. However, we should be realistic about what such programs will accomplish.
Though useful, partner-notification programs that contact people who may have been exposed, cannot replace true HIV prevention, which enables people to engage in safe drug and sex practices.
Dr. Liza Solomon, Baltimore
The writer is director of the AIDS administration at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Drug lord, chicken stories and editorials are winners
First there was the Lewthwaite-Kane series on slavery in the Sudan. Now you have come up with back-to-back series, one by Jim Haner on the convicted drug dealer and slumlord followed quickly by the chicken series by Kate Shatzkin and Dan Fesperman.
Not to be ignored is Mike Lane's cartoon on big business' contribution to Third World human rights violations. Also, the extensive editorial on the criminal justice system in Baltimore had tremendous merit.
If The Sun does not get Pulitzers for the drug-landlord story and the chicken story (a tie) and the editorial writing, there will be something wrong with the judging. This is what a newspaper and journalism should be all about -- something that is rarely seen on TV.
Richard L. Lelonek, Baltimore
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