Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 15, 2005

Illinois won't let druggists block contraceptives

Steve Chapman's column on Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's action to protect women's access to contraceptives at the pharmacy counter, misstated - or misunderstood - the intent of the emergency rule we issued on April 1 ("From the right to choose to the power to compel," Opinion * Commentary, April 11).

The rule says that drug stores that stock and sell contraceptives to their customers must make the necessary arrangements to fill every prescription - without lectures, without moral arguments and without delay.

If a drugstore chooses not to sell contraceptives, there is nothing in this rule that compels it to change its policies. The store simply must - at the patient's request - either transfer the prescription to another pharmacy or return the prescription to the patient.

We are telling pharmacies that stock and dispense contraceptives that they can't let an individual pharmacist's personal beliefs delay or hinder a woman's ability to have her prescription for birth control filled in the same timely manner as any other prescription.

It is the drugstore's responsibility to reach an accommodation with the beliefs of its staff. It is not the responsibility of the state of Illinois to accommodate those beliefs at the expense of women who are seeking safe, federally approved contraceptives.

Fernando Grillo

Springfield, Ill.

The writer is secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Admit the evidence of earlier sex crimes

The reason Maurice Blackwell gets to drag us - and victim Dontee Stokes - through another trial is very simple: The Maryland legislature refuses to enact a very common exception that allows evidence of a child molester's prior offenses to be introduced at trial ("Ex-priest wins new trial in molestation case," April 9).

The rules of 19 other states and the federal government all provide a sex crimes exception to the general ban on introducing evidence of a defendant's other "bad acts."

Studies consistently show many convicted child molesters committed numerous sex offenses that are never reported or punished - and many will commit more in the future, even after treatment.

Furthermore, other state legislatures have concluded that such a rule is especially important in child abuse cases in which the victims, unlike victims of carjacking or assault, are often steeped in shame and reluctant to come forward.

Maryland Del. Pauline H. Menes and state Sen. Jennie M. Forehand have sponsored bills in recent legislative sessions that would put a similar sex crime exception into Maryland's rules of evidence, but to no avail.

Had they prevailed, it would not have been "unfair" if the two detectives had alluded to Mr. Blackwell's other victims, because the evidence might have been admissible.

And justice would have prevailed for Mr. Stokes, and for countless other Maryland victims of child sex abuse.

Joyce Lombardi

Baltimore

The writer is a student at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Democrats show they're out of touch

Once more, the Democratic ruling elite of Maryland has shown that it is not the party of the people but of the fringe ("Ehrlich plans to take his message to the people," April 13).

Once more, it is the party of the left - of big labor and the teachers unions. The party that can't run a business except to run it out of business or out of state - that can't stop spending the people's money but can't think of cutting taxes. The party of decadence and debauchery. The party of tree-hugging environmentalists and perversions of nature.

The Democrats enacted legislation to raise the wage floor, which would make it too expensive for businesses to employ people and cause many people to lose their jobs and prices to go up.

They also refused to amend the state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from activist judges and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The people of Maryland are simply going to have to vote for more Republicans. They've started with the governor.

M. Norman Ryan

Bel Air

Laughing as racing goes down the drain?

The column by Dan Rodricks on slot machines was very funny and all ("It's really time to change the subject on the issue of slots," April 7).

I hope we can remember it and all laugh a few years from now, when the gasoline prices are nice and low and we can afford to go to the horse races - in West Virginia or Delaware, because all the Maryland tracks went belly up.

Lou Meyer

Paradise

Bickering lawmakers deserve ticket home

Here we go again. The General Assembly is over and we have the Republicans blaming the Democrats and the Democrats blaming the Republicans for what didn't get done. And who are the real losers? We taxpaying citizens who entrust these individuals with the welfare of our state ("Session ends amid discord," April 12).

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