Upholding gag rule won't make women safe or cut...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 19, 2001

Upholding gag rule won't make women safe or cut abortions

On Wednesday, Congress voted to strike down the Global Democracy Promotion Act, which would have overturned the global gag rule President Bush imposed as one of his first acts in office ("House upholds Bush ban on aid to abortion groups," May 17).

In exchange for U.S. family planning assistance, the gag rule requires foreign non-governmental organizations to withhold information about legal abortion and where to obtain safe abortion services. Family planning agencies are forced to sacrifice their right to engage in pro-choice advocacy (though anti-choice advocacy is permitted) and must refuse to provide legal abortion services.

The bill would have ensured U.S. foreign policy is consistent with American values, including free speech, medical ethics and national sovereignty. How could anyone oppose a bill that speaks to the most basic rights Americans hold dear?

Every year, unsafe abortions kill nearly 80,000 women. If more people had access to family planning, there would be fewer abortions.

Supporters of the gag rule claim it will reduce abortions. We know it does no such thing. This policy was in effect throughout the Reagan and Bush administrations in the 1980s, yet there is no evidence the number of abortions decreased.

The administration has had ample opportunity to prove the gag rule works. It clearly does not.

Ann-Michele Gundlach, Kristen S. Carter, Owings Mills

The writers are, respectively, the chairperson and a communications specialist with Planned Parenthood of Maryland.

Recreational crabbers face plenty of restrictions

The writer of "Restrictions on crabbing are unfair to watermen" (letters, May 5) wants stricter regulations on recreational crabbers rather than commercial ones.

Where has this person been for the past several years while the recreational crabbers have had their catch reduced to one bushel, with a license, or just two dozen crabs without a license?

Further, the gear recreational crabbers can use has been reduced by almost half in the last three years. Add the restriction of not being allowed to crab on Wednesday and it's clear the little guy faces more than his or her share of regulations.

Wayne Croft, Parkton

Maryland should tax crabs watermen export

If 95 percent of blue crabs caught by commercial watermen in the Chesapeake Bay are shipped out of state, what benefit are citizens of Maryland reaping?

I think it's high time to put a huge tax surcharge on these shipments.

John C. Zaruba, Baltimore

Rising population causes quality of life to sink

The authors of "Growth leads to shrinking quality of life" (May 13) made no reference to the most basic reason for the decline in quality of life: The constant pressure of population growth.

The U.S. is on course to double its population within the lives of people now living. The outlook for solving urban and suburban quality of life problems is poor until that growth rate is brought down.

Writers and groups seem to fear mentioning the tremendous rate of immigration that is driving a huge proportion of the population growth. Apparently, they fear being called racist or anti-immigrant.

But it is not anti-immigrant to ask for a return to a rate that can be absorbed without degrading everybody's quality of life and overwhelming our resources.

Carleton Brown, Elkton

Tax cuts won't help the poor pay for gas

In his brief May 11 news conference, President Bush mentioned tax relief many times as the best way to help people cope with high gasoline prices.

But how will Mr. Bush's controversial tax relief program -- which will spread tax cuts over more than 10 years and primarily benefit his wealthy friends and backers --help the millions who do not pay taxes because they do not earn enough? These are the very people who are hardest hit, if they own a car, by the rise in energy prices.

My household is already in the throes of "Bush-fatigue."

Elinor H. Kerpelman, Baltimore

Allow the gravely ill to use marijuana to ease their pain

The Supreme Court ruled against medical marijuana because of the way the law is written ("Justices rule out medical marijuana," May 15). Congress should change the law to allow medical use of marijuana.

Anything that relieves the suffering of terminal or near-terminal patients should be allowed.

You never know: One day even a member of Congress may want to have his or her suffering alleviated by this illegal drug.

Allan Kaufman, Owings Mills

Boycott Towson multiplex that subverts Senator Theatre

Let me get this right: The Senator Theatre is being denied the right to show the movie "Pearl Harbor" because Towson General Cinemas is using its influence (as part of a chain with more than 1,000 screens) to broker a deal with Disney that allows it to show the movie and prevents the Senator from showing it ("A big battle over `Pearl Harbor,'" May 11).

I say this is highway robbery of the people of Baltimore. "Saving Private Ryan" was an experience to be had at the Senator and "Pearl Harbor" should be, too.

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