Letters To The Editor

October 26, 2007

Pregnancy-rate data just aren't available

The Sun's article regarding minors' access to birth control ("Access to the pill in Md. schools dates back," Oct. 19) presented a misleading analysis of teen pregnancies in a chart titled "Teen Pregnancy Rates Fall in Maryland."

The chart used statistics from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that indicate the state has seen a steady decrease in teenage birth rates from 1995 to 2005.

The Sun erroneously implied that a decrease in teen births is equivalent to a decrease in Maryland's overall teen pregnancy rate. But it is inaccurate to claim that a lower teen birth rate indicates a lower teen pregnancy rate, because the number of teen births represents only a portion of the overall teen pregnancy rate.

An accurate evaluation of teen pregnancy rates would have to look at all teen pregnancy outcomes, including teen miscarriages, stillbirths and abortions.

Currently, Maryland's DHMH cannot provide an accurate depiction of the teen pregnancy rate in our state because Maryland has a voluntary reporting system for abortion facilities.

DHMH itself noted in a cover letter to a report on the data that it is incomplete and that "the number of facilities submitting data can change from year to year, making comparisons over time unreliable."

If we want to have a serious discussion about whether contraception could be effective in reducing Maryland's teen pregnancy rates, we should start by having DHMH study teen pregnancy in its entirety.

At present, no one can conclude based on reliable statistics that Maryland's teen pregnancy rate has even fallen since 1995, much less effectively argue that contraception is the cause of such a trend.

Cathy McLeod

Annapolis

The writer is legislative director for Maryland Right to Life.

State's Democrats set to tax us to death

Gov. Martin O'Malley and the Democrats in our state legislature created a deficit by their excessive spending. But instead of restraining themselves, some of them are now attempting to destroy this wonderful state by taxing it to death ("Insuring 100,000, plugging shortfall," Oct. 24).

The governor keeps introducing programs with no regard as to how they can be paid for. So his solution is to raise more taxes.

It is time for Mr. O'Malley and the Democrats to look at history carefully.

When taxes are cut, revenue rises. When taxes are raised, we go into a downward spiral.

The reason many Democrats want to push these tax proposals through in a special session is to make it impossible for the people of this state to have any say in what is going to happen.

It is time for the people of this state to wake up.

Marge Prickett

Millersville

Call the budget bluff O'Malley has offered

Let's call Gov. Martin O'Malley's budget bluff and see what he really cuts if we don't raise taxes ("O'Malley warns of high `cost of delay,'" Oct. 24).

K. P. Heinemeyer

Essex

Base state gas tax on price at pump

I don't like paying more for gas at the pump ("The oil trap," editorial, Oct. 17). But if I have to pay more, I would much rather send it to Annapolis than to Saudi Arabia or to the bigwigs at Exxon Mobil.

I think now is the time for the state to switch to a gas tax that is based on a percentage of the cost of gas.

That way, as gas prices go up and cars get more efficient, we would still have enough transit funds to build alternatives to the car - so I can park my car and take light rail or MARC or some other form of transit that doesn't pour so much pollution into the air I breathe.

Bob Reuter

Baltimore

Gilchrest's integrity deserves applause

Those who follow Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest's career in Congress know him as an independent (Republican) thinker.

While many in his party deny crises in conservation of natural resources, he quietly works to forge reasonable and common-sense measures that receive bipartisan support.

For instance, he does not believe state-sponsored gambling is an ethical solution to budgeting crises. As a decorated Marine combat veteran, he has real problems with the administration's implementation of its policy in Iraq. And he thinks conservative Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley is right about health care for children.

Mr. Gilchrest speaks his mind and votes his convictions, refusing to sacrifice principle to expediency, behavior some people apparently find aberrant.

What former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. calls understanding "what it means to be a team player" has become partisan code for being willing to parrot the party line ("Ehrlich endorses Gilchrest opponent," Oct. 19).

But formulating public policy is not football, and we elect people to find effective and equitable solutions, not just to win one for the Gipper.

We need more people like Mr. Gilchrest in public service.

Anthony Cobb

Catonsville

The writer is a member of the board of Conserve America, a conservative group that promotes environmental conservation.

Cleanup campaign made real difference

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