Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 18, 2008

Better access to care will count for kids

I take a different message from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count report than The Sun does ("A report on Maryland kids," editorial, June 12).

Perhaps because I am a Johns Hopkins-trained obstetrician, I view things from the perspective of the fetus and newborn.

And to paraphrase a political cliche, "It's the poverty, stupid."

What I take from the report is that the fact that Maryland is a wealthy state does not ensure that the have-nots will have easy access to the kinds of preconception and prenatal care that will lessen the occurrence of low-birthweight babies.

Low-birthweight babies have a more difficult start in life and more health problems throughout their lives.

A study by Dr. Kate Pickett has shown that income inequality is linked to adolescent pregnancies, which are more likely to produce low-birthweight babies, and that income inequality also correlates with teen homicides.

Access to basic health care can break up the vicious cycle of illness increasing poverty and poverty increasing illness.

Dr. Larry Donohue, Seattle

Poor access to health care has long been a primary cause of poor birth outcomes in Maryland ("Md. ranks 19th in nation in well-being of children," June 13).

Access to critical prenatal care is simply out of reach for many expectant Maryland mothers. This results in a relatively large number of low-birthweight babies and in infant mortality rates for Maryland that are much higher than the national average.

Despite being among the wealthiest states in the nation, Maryland is one of the states where it is most difficult for parents to qualify for Medicaid benefits. But this is about to change.

Thanks to the efforts of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the legislature, on July 1, the Working Families and Small Business Health Care Act becomes effective.

This legislation expands the income ceiling for Maryland Medical Assistance so that parents earning up to 116 percent of the federal poverty level - i.e., about $20,000 per year for a family of three - will be eligible, and helps small businesses provide health care coverage to their employees.

Providing critical prenatal help and services between pregnancies to promote both maternal and infant health will give Maryland babies a healthier start on life.

John M. Colmers Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the secretary of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Baltimore's health commissioner.

Justices usurp president's power

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that illegal enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have a right to seek redress for their detention in American civilian courts ("Terror suspects' rights upheld," June 13).

This brazenly unconstitutional ruling, which seeks to transfer the power and authority to wage war from the president in his role as commander in chief to the Supreme Court and to lesser courts, is intolerable.

For their roles in issuing this outrageous ruling seeking to usurp the president's war-making powers, the five associate justices who ruled this way deserve to be impeached and removed from the Supreme Court.

I call on any principled member or members of the House of Representatives to draw up articles of impeachment against Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens, Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg for this ruling forthwith.

Kurt A. Snavely, Hershey, Pa.

Need one more conservative judge

Habeas corpus rights for Islamic terrorists ("Terror suspects' rights upheld," June 13)?

That ruling just goes to show how badly we need one more conservative justice.

Hugh Curd, Timonium

Let courts handle terrorism cases

The Sun's editorial "Justice from the court" (June 13) is right: The Supreme Court clearly reaffirmed how crucial habeas corpus rights are to the nation's legal system.

The justices apparently realized that federal courts have shown that they are an effective forum for trying people accused of terrorism.

Congress, therefore, should not act on this issue before federal courts have an opportunity to demonstrate if they can efficaciously address the habeas petitions filed by detainees.

Carl Tobias, Richmond, Va.

The writer is a professor of law at the University of Richmond.

No reason to spy on war resisters

The reluctance of state and federal police agencies to disclose records on the surveillance of anti-war groups stems from the same obfuscation and distrust of the public that characterized the Bush administration's march to war in Iraq and the war's execution ("Police spying alleged," June 13).

But there was no reason to spy on the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance.

I was a member of this group for a few months before and after the start of the Iraq war. I know that the group adhered to the principle of transparency in its motives, goals and plans.

Nosy government agents could have simply asked what we were up to and, after ascertaining who wanted to know, I personally would have told them.

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