No Help Needed
Editor: The Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore recently announced a plan ("Church launches assistance project for after abortion," Jan. 19) that purports to help women who have had abortions. Too bad the program comes a day late and a dollar short.
Despite what those who are opposed to legal abortion would like people to believe about those of us who support choice, nobody thinks abortion in and of itself is a good thing. To be sure, the abortion decision is often accompanied by sadness over what cannot or ought not be. Still, abortion is an option that a woman, at a particular time and in particular circumstances, sometimes feels she must choose.
No abortion brings a woman joy, success, or fulfillment. But what is more, medical and psychological experts agree, neither does an abortion generally engender ill effects, either physically or emotionally.
In fact, a panel convened by the American Psychological Association unanimously concluded in 1989 that "legal abortion, particularly in the first trimester, does not create psychological hazards for most women undergoing the procedure. The studies we reviewed consistently showed the incidence of several negative reactions to be low and the predominant feeling following abortion to be relief and happiness. Some women report feelings of sadness, regret, anxiety, or guilt, but these tend to be mild."
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, himself as anti-choice as the president for whom he worked, declined to submit a
report Ronald Reagan had requested on the psychological consequences of abortion, saying there existed no conclusive evidence that pregnancy termination caused negative health effects. Instead, a draft of the report called for a comprehensive approach to preventing abortion, through contraceptive research, sex education and programs to subsidize the cost of childbearing and care for women who decide to carry unplanned pregnancies to term.
Church leaders who truly care about the health and welfare of women and children would do well to redirect their considerable resources to this sensible, workable, much needed approach. What women really need is a program that helps them before they must chose to terminate a pregnancy.
Mary Jean Collins.
The writer is deputy director of Catholics for a Free Choice.
The B&O; Lives
Editor: The departure of CSX from Baltimore draws our attention on two fronts: Not only do we mark with sadness the loss of a major business entity, but we feel a tug of nostalgia as we bid farewell to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
American railroading took its first great leap when the B&O;, the nation's first common carrier railroad, was chartered in Baltimore in 1827.
Today transportation conglomerate CSX -- of which the old B&O; is a fragment -- is pulling out of Baltimore.
But is the B&O; entirely gone? Many Baltimoreans may not be aware of the legacy of Oscar G. Murray, president of the B&O; from 1904 until 1910.
In his will, Mr. Murray provided for the formation of a charitable trust fund to aid needy widows and orphans of B&O; employees. This fund, steadfast in its purpose for over 70 years, has since 1976 operated as a component fund of the Baltimore Community Foundation.
Information supplied by Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland helps a committee of volunteers select infirm and destitute individuals to receive aid from the Murray Fund. The average recipient is in her 80s, suffering from a chronic health condition and has an average monthly income of $300.
Some beneficiaries of the fund receive a monthly stipend; others receive one-time cash grants to help pay health care bills, fuel bills or emergency home repairs. Case-workers' support is yet another kind of aid provided. In all, over $140,000 in assistance is supplied each year by the Murray Fund, which has grown to nearly $2.4 million.
Because of the unique characteristics of community foundations, Oscar G. Murray's concern and generosity will continue to bear fruit even when no widows or orphans of B&O; employees remain. Community foundations are vested with the responsibility -- and the flexibility -- to perpetuate a donor's intent by re-directing funds to similar purposes when the original mission can no longer be carried out.
Thus the B&O; Railroad will forever endure in Baltimore through the Murray Fund, administered by the Baltimore Community Foundation in perpetuity.
Herbert M. Katzenberg.
The writer is vice chairman of the Baltimore Community Foundation.
Editor: Animals do not belong in circuses. This recently was made abundantly clear when Kelley, a 20-year-old Indian elephant, went on a rampage through the big top in Palm Bay, Fla.
Animals are not here for our entertainment. They have intrinsic value, each and every one. Their worth is not a measure of their ability to please us, to work for us, to feed us or to dress us.
When Kelley went on strike, when she stopped obeying her trainer and stormed through the circus grounds with unwanted riders on her back and injured six people, she was gunned down by police. What did it take for this highly intelligent pachyderm to run off? Had she had enough of the electric training prod? Had she had enough of the leg-hold chains, the confinement, the unnatural acts, acrobatic or atmosphere under the circus tent?
Elephants are not here for our entertainment. They have intrinsic value, each and every one. It's long past the time they were given the respect that they deserve.
Ocean City Values
Editor: In the wake of the Jan. 4 Nor'easter that battered the Atlantic Coast, The Sun has run several letters critical of plans to spend more money pumping sand onto Ocean City's beach.
Anyone who saw firsthand the Jan. 4 storm knows that the protective dune and boardwalk wall saved a tremendous amount of Ocean City property from being destroyed.
The Department of Natural Resources put a dollar figure on itsaying that $93 million worth of damage was avoided because of the wall and rebuilt beach.
A Sun editorial dated Jan. 6 said, "Maryland spent $44 million since 1988 pumping more sand onto the beach, creating dunes and building a sea wall along the boardwalk."
This simply isn't true.
The entire cost of the project has been estimated at $44 million. But the state's share is just a part of it, more like $12 million.
How much does Maryland get back?
Each year, Ocean City sends an estimated $85 million in tax revenues to the state of Maryland.
And a state economic report has placed Ocean City above both Baltimore and Annapolis for overall tourism-generated revenue during a recent one-year period.
So it's wrong to say, "Putting money into replenishment is the same as throwing it down the sewer," as a reader did in the Jan. 20 Sun.
In this case, pumping money into replenishment effectively protected a significant source of state revenue.
Responsibility for Cyclists
Editor: I have been following the controversy regarding the helmet bill with much interest as one who survived a motorcycle accident with serious injuries to the head and limbs.
Had I been wearing a helmet, those injuries would have been minimal, if not altogether avoided. I was exercising freedom of choice; a choice that would be very different today given what I have learned.
Freedom of choice is the very foundation upon which this great country is based, but it comes with responsibility for one's actions.
I have read the argument that most riders carry private insurance, and do not rely upon the state, along with some other seemingly logical arguments. The fact remains that when there are serious, long-term head injuries, everyone is affected.
Even when there is private insurance, the resultant loss to the insurance carrier will be shared by all rate-payers. Anyone who doesn't believe that need only examine their insurance rates and compare them with their own claims history.
I support freedom of choice, with the disclaimer that if you choose not to wear a helmet, then the state and the insurance carriers should be absolved of any responsibility for injuries that could have been avoided by the use of one.
TH Then, the rider will truly be assuming responsibility for his or her
Suzanne Grover choice.
Isn't that really the American way?
John A. Smith.
Baltimore. Editor: The plan to build another garbage incinerator in Baltimore is an insult to all the people of the city and county and must be stopped.
For more than 30 years citizen of the region has been breathing the toxins continuously spewing from the smokestacks of the other existing incinerator on Pulaski Highway.
The Pulaski incinerator has turned our sky into a landfill. The neighborhoods immediately around the incinerator have the highest cancer rates in Baltimore. Maryland has the highest cancer death rate in the country.
The incinerator is stealing our money as well as our health. Because of a sweetheart deal, the city is obligated to pay 85 percent of its operating costs, including all environmental retrofits required by the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the city's accounting, this comes to more than $10 million a year, in a time when libraries are being closed and school budgets slashed.
A 1990 report commissioned by the city noted that "one major impact of recycling is that the city will not need the Pulaski incinerator." That's because the city takes only 14 percent of its trash there. We have a state mandate to recycle at least 15 percent.
It is clear that the Pulaski incinerator is not needed and that we are paying for it to harm our health and environment. It should be shut down immediately.
A new, bigger incinerator would do one of two things. It would either kill recycling, because of its huge demand for recyclable or compostable waste, or it will import out-of-state waste. Neither alternative is acceptable. A 10-year moratorium on the building of a new incinerator needs to be enacted immediately. Let's give recycling a chance.
NB The people of Baltimore want to recycle, not burn recyclables.
The writer chairs the Baltimore Recycling Coalition.