Abortions now limited in MarylandIt seems many...


Abortions now limited in Maryland

It seems many Marylanders believe that "abortion on demand" is a right of women in this state and that only a negative vote on Question 6 will limit this easy access to abortion services.

As a counselor who has struggled to find abortion appointments for many low-income women, I would like to point out this right already is severely limited in Maryland.

Most private clinics that offer general anesthesia and second trimester abortions do not accept Medical Assistance. The scenario for a woman who must rely on Medical Assistance to pay for an abortion is thus as follows:

If she is within the first eight weeks of her pregnancy and is capable of going through the abortion procedure with only a local anesthetic, she probably can get an appointment at a hospital or at one of the few clinics in Maryland that accept Medical Assistance. Even with the Medical Assistance, however, she still may have to pay a significant share of the cost.

All hospitals and clinics require that a woman first come for counseling and physical exams. She may also need to schedule a sonogram, then return a third day for the actual abortion procedure.

Not all hospitals offer abortion services. Those that do have very specific hours during which one can schedule an appointment.

If a woman is able to sort through these complexities and reach the hospital at the appropriate time she will then find an enormous waiting list for appointments.

If she is approaching her second trimester she may already be too far along to schedule an appointment within the legal time frame.

Even if she is ultimately able to get an abortion, the scarcity of appointments will have meant the procedure has been delayed a month or more after she discovered she was pregnant. Late abortions often are a direct result of limited abortion services.

"Abortion on demand" is a misleading phrase used to depict women as pushy and selfish in their requests for abortion services. In reality, many women do not "demand" abortions; they search and plead for them -- and still they are turned away.

$Carrie Armstrong Montague

Owings Mills

Church and state

The recent decision by the Supreme Court to ban organized prayer at graduations from government-funded schools will, I suspect, be interpreted by many as an attack on religion. I would like to praise the decision, however.

Just three days after our government renewed its commitment to state/church separation, the village elders in Barra, Pakistan, enforced Islamic rules by forcing a father to execute his son and the son's girlfriend for living together without being married.

It seems unlikely that such fanatics could ever gain power of the entire U.S., but it is easy to imagine a religious group choosing one city or town as its headquarters and having enough votes to get its religion passed into law in that place. Only firm state/church separation prevents it.

Returning to the single issue of graduation prayer, there were only two outcomes that would have been fair: Either representatives from all ethical or religious systems should have been invited by the government to speak, or none should.

I doubt that many in the Christian majority would enjoy listening to a humanist praising reason and rejecting superstition, or to a Jew looking forward to the first coming of the Messiah, or perhaps to a Hindu thanking all the gods for the wonderful educational opportunities given to the students present.

Too many governments in human history have persecuted people for having beliefs that differ from the beliefs of those in power. I applaud the United States of America for its refusal to do so!

M. Anson


Best in the land

I had my first opportunity June 27 to see the Orioles play in their new stadium. Since I'm not an avid baseball fan my reactions were, "It's bigger, more crowded -- just a ball park." Wrong.

My son, Tom, has put me straight. As of June 26 in San Diego, Calif., he has seen all the American and National League ball parks. This is a goal he began to work toward starting in 1969. He's seen Willie Mays play in Wrigley Field, watched Jose Bautista throw a two-hitter, been present when Bobby Thigpin broke an all-time single-season record in 1990 and watched Bob Milacki pitch a two-hitter.

Before this May, he ranked Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Royals Stadium, Tiger Stadium and Dodger Stadium as the top ballparks. But now he says, "There is no other like it. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the top, the Number One, the greatest ball park." I stand corrected.

Ruth O'Dwyer


Send in the troops

If we are short of police to handle escalating crime, why not involve our idle military -- Army, Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard, etc.?

Since they don't have a foreign enemy to contend with, let them earn their keep fighting our enemy within.

J. Small


Lost principles

Now let me be sure I have this right: Bill Clinton, the presidential nominee-apparent of the Democratic Party, has denounced Sister Souljah, the rap star, for her recommendation that black individuals begin to kill white individuals.

At first, Mr. Clinton is praised by the conservative elements of his party for taking a stand. I take this "stand" to mean that the Democrats -- while still favoring such racist policies as affirmative action and quotas -- at least draw the line somewhere. And, we know now, that "somewhere" is murder.

Then come the criticisms from the moderate and hard left of the Democratic Party -- namely, from Gov. Mario Cuomo and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Mr. Cuomo suggests that Mr. Clinton has maybe been a little too harsh on this topic of murder and perhaps ought to arrange a "summit" between himself, Mr. Jackson and Sister Souljah.

Mr. Jackson, however, who understands the principles at stake much better than does Mr. Cuomo, rejects the notion of compromise, claiming that, "Black people do not have the institutional power to be racist."

What are we to infer from this? That black individuals are genetically incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions? It would be difficult to imagine a more provocative statement emanating from the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan itself.

That such an exchange has even occurred among the leaders of a major political party is more tragic evidence of a nation which has lost its philosophical mooring.

Not only has our culture abandoned the principles upon which it was originally based -- the principles of truth, reason and justice -- it has now altogether rejected the very concept of "principle."

We now know where such a state of affairs will lead us, because we have proof of it on our television screens: the spectacle of a Sister Souljah influencing the presidential election.

ichael J. Hurd


Dr. Jonas Rappeport: 'paragon of cooperation'

I would like to add to the kind words from his legions of admirers in your article on Dr. Jonas Rappeport, retiring chief medical officer of the Baltimore Circuit Court and father of forensic psychiatry.

For over 15 years, I have been writing articles critical of psychiatry -- and, in particular, forensic psychiatry -- in the popular and academic press. I have written quite positively on the views of my friend, Dr. Thomas Szasz, who is arguably the pre-eminent critic of psychiatry in America.

These views have earned me much hostility from mental health professionals in the form of angry letters, phone calls and more.

In contrast to such response stands Dr. Rappeport. During these years, I struck up a most cordial professional relationship with him. He agreed, for example, to debate Dr. Szasz at my university (where Dr. Rappeport was much too good).

Moreover, despite the fact that my views are diametrically opposed to his, Dr. Rappeport has been a paragon of cooperation whenever I have called upon him to provide me with information, such as a source I couldn't locate or an event I couldn't remember for, say, a CNN debate on the insanity plea, or an article I was writing relating to a policy of the American Psychiatric Association.

I even was able to provide him with some help on a project on one occasion, but far more often it has been the other way around.

In my experience there are regrettably very few professionals and academics who take collegiality seriously when they deal with those who strongly disagree with them, especially when they have reached such eminence as Dr. Rappeport.

Dr. Rappeport is greatly respected by those who share his views on psychiatry and its role in public policy but, perhaps equally significant, also by those who do not share those views.

ichard E. Vatz


The writer is professor of rhetoric at Towson State University.

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