Letters To The Editor


March 20, 2007

Long-term impact of vaccine unknown

I think Susan Reimer should give parents who question the use of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer more credit ("Give daughters a shot at avoiding cervical cancer," March 13).

Ms. Reimer assumes that the real reason parents would object to having their daughters receive the HPV vaccine is that they think it would encourage sexual promiscuity.

I disagree with her assumption. I have three daughters (ages 20, 22 and 24). I am concerned about whether or not they should receive the vaccine, but my concern has nothing to do with their sexual behavior. (I feel confident about my parenting and about their ability to make wise sexual choices.) What concerns me is that there are no long-term data about the effects of the vaccine.

How can we encourage young women to get vaccinated when there is no research to let us know if the vaccine carries hazardous side effects?

This situation reminds me of the drug thalidomide, which was given to some pregnant women in the late 1950s and early 1960s to help combat morning sickness.

Inadequate testing had been done to assess that drug's safety. As a result, mothers taking the drug gave birth to thousands of babies with severe deformities including blindness, deafness, missing limbs and flipper-like appendages.

Perhaps the HPV vaccine is safe and will prevent cervical cancer with no ill effects at all. But what if it is not safe?

What if taking it could cause infertility or another side effect as devastating as cancer?

Do you want your daughter to be the guinea pig?

Cindy Lemieux


Were police trained to meet mentally ill?

My heart aches for the family of Ryan Meyers, a man suffering from bipolar disorder who died during a confrontation with the Baltimore County police ("Man dies after hit from stun gun," March 18).

I was not present during the incident and cannot judge the actions of the officers involved. I do know, however, that the techniques that are appropriate in many violent situations are not useful when a mentally ill person is involved.

I fervently hope that the investigation into this sad affair will focus on these questions:

Was an officer present who had been trained in effective procedures for dealing with people suffering from a mental disorder?

If a trained officer was present, was his or her advice heeded?

If a trained officer was not present, what steps can be taken to ensure that more officers learn to manage a confrontation with a mentally ill person safely and effectively?

Bob Wirtz


The writer is a volunteer and a teacher for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

Support the police who enforce the law

Mayor Sheila Dixon and Baltimore Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm should demonstrate more responsible leadership and judicious circumspection before rushing to the TV cameras with apologies ("Mayor apologizes for arrest of boy, 7," March 17).

We can all acknowledge that handcuffing a 7-year-old child might seem excessive.

However, city leaders should have supported the police officers who were dutifully enforcing the law and sending a message to parents that it's important for everyone's safety for the law to be taken seriously.

Paul J. Edgar


Divorce bill wastes legislature's energy

I am disgusted that the Maryland Senate is wasting time debating the religious issue of the "get" for Orthodox Jewish women ("Senate advances divorce bill," March 15).

Sen. Lisa A. Gladden states that this issue is not a matter of religion but one of fairness.

But taxpayer money should not be spent on something that cannot be resolved through legislation.

How can anyone really believe that a state law could change the mindset of those involved in this practice?

Let's please move off this worthless bill and get down to attacking the important issues that affect the entire state.

Ellen Apple


A double standard on public duplicity

Thomas Sowell's lament over the prosecution and conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was a classic case of the double standard exhibited by Mr. Sowell and fellow conservatives ("Meat-grinder politics in `Scooter' Libby case," Opinion * Commentary, March 15).

He maintains that the outing of a CIA operative, Valerie Plame, was not a crime, and therefore memory failures on the part of Mr. Libby did not merit an investigation, much less prosecution for perjury.

Yet I don't recall Mr. Sowell protesting the lengthy, costly and fruitless investigations into the Whitewater land deal.

And while conservatives gleefully cheered on special prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr as he pursued evidence of wrongdoing years prior to Bill Clinton's being elected president, he stumbled on Mr. Clinton's extramarital affairs.

The ultimate result was a needless impeachment process that bruised our nation.

Yet Mr. Libby's deficiency in disclosing the truth (which led to his conviction on four counts) not only fails to anger Mr. Sowell but garners his sympathy.

Steve Charing


Put war protesters on the front page

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