Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 28, 2003

Contraceptive bill's provisions misrepresented

The Sun's articles on emergency contraception (EC) legislation completely misrepresented the intent of the bill ("Morning-after pill purchase wins approval from delegates," March 25).

The articles and the comments it cites insinuate that under this bill a woman would have been able to walk into a pharmacy and buy EC as she would aspirin or cough medicine. But this simply is not the case. The bill did not authorize "over-the-counter" sale of EC; indeed, EC has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for "over-the-counter" use. It would be more accurate to say that the bill would have allowed licensed pharmacists acting "behind the counter" to dispense EC.

EC, a high dose of oral contraceptives, is already available in pharmacies to women who have a prescription. This bill would have increased access to EC, particularly on evenings and weekends - times when pharmacists are on duty but a woman may not be able to see her doctor. It is truly unfortunate that the Senate committee voted to kill the bill.

By misrepresenting the intent of this bill, The Sun has caused needless controversy and confusion over this issue. But in fact, EC is safe, effective, and has the potential to reduce by half the unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions that take place in the United States each year.

Jessica L. Morgan

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland chapter of the National Organization for Women.

An awful shock for steelworkers

The bombs were falling in Iraq. I did not have time to ponder the human cost. I was involved in another war here at home.

My battlefield assignment was the headquarters of the United Steelworkers of America in Pittsburgh. I was answering a hot line for retirees of Bethlehem Steel and their surviving spouses.

They were notified by mail that Bethlehem Steel will terminate their medical benefits on Monday. The news prompted "shock and awe" ("With vow broken, retirees steel themselves for tough times," March 26).

The calls came from steel towns and retirement havens across America. Their voices were those of the terrorized. Some cried. Some yelled. Many said simply: "Oh my God, what will I do?"

Our union has held meetings with thousands of retirees. But the confusing and costly maze of health care options makes it very difficult to stop the bleeding. As the phone rang, I thought of the lonely souls who have no sons and daughters to help them. They will fall through the cracks of a broken health care system.

This medical warfare must stop. Innocent civilians are dying at the hands of the pharmaceutical and insurance companies and HMOs.

It's time for our political leaders to provide prescription drug coverage to Medicare recipients. It's time to support a national health care system.

If our politicians can't protect the innocents, we need regime change here and now.

Len Shindel

Baltimore

The writer is secretary of the grievance committee of United Steelworkers Local 9477.

Retired steelworkers need help at home

I read with great interest that President Bush has requested $75 billion to start paying for war in Iraq ("Bush to ask Congress for $75 billion for war," March 25). He has also stated that the United States is poised to supply massive humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq.

I am a member of a group of 95,000 American retired steelworkers who recently became aware that we will be losing our promised lifetime health care coverage and life insurance policies as of Monday.

I wonder why Mr. Bush cannot find a small amount of the massive humanitarian assistance he will gladly give to people in a foreign country to provide help to 95,000 Americans.

Somehow our leader's priorities seem to have gotten terribly mixed up.

Lawrence F. Gonter

Lutherville

Budget follies show boundless cynicism

Let me see if I have this right. The U.S. Senate thinks it is exercising frugality by cutting an outrageous $726 billion, 10-year tax cut to "only" $350 billion, in the midst of a war and despite the fact that we face a $300 billion deficit for this year alone ("Senate slashes tax relief proposal," March 26).

The House of Representatives sees no problem with the original $726 billion, provided $255 billion in spending is cut from, among other things, veterans' benefits ("Two-front crapshoot," editorial, March 25). Perhaps it figures that members of the military won't notice, being busy fighting for their lives in Iraq and all.

Is there no limit to the cynicism of this administration and the spinelessness of the 108th Congress?

J. Wistar Huey III

Ellicott City

Mall has the right to stop protests

Although I agree with the writer of the letter "Malls can't still voice of protest" (March 25) that the fact that protesters at Towson Town Center will be barred from the mall for life is a bit heavy-handed, his suggestion that the mall is today's equivalent of a town square is way off the mark.

A mall is private property, not a place for protest or acts of civil disobedience.

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