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The Baltimore Sun

Labeling abortion 'evil' is just unfair

I don't know what outraged me more about Steve Chapman's column on abortion: The fact that he assumes a decline in the number of abortions is bad news for the pro-choice advocates or that he finds it acceptable to call abortion "evil" ("America's growing aversion to abortion," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 21).

First of all, the pro-choice community works harder to reduce the number of abortions in the United States than the anti-abortion folks do.

We are the ones fighting to make sure women have access to contraceptive services so they can reduce the chance that they will be in the position of deciding whether or not to have an abortion.

We celebrate a reduction in abortions if a portion of the decrease is attributable to women making the informed decision not to have an abortion (thus the term "pro-choice").

Second, calling abortion "evil" shows a real contempt for the women who have made, are making or will make the decision to have an abortion.

These women are not "evil"; they are moral people making a decision that is theirs to make.

None of us has the right to judge our fellow woman.

Wendy J. Royalty


The writer is director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Maryland Inc.

Do protesters value life beyond birth?

The Sun's photo captioned "A 'March for Life' in Washington" (Jan. 23) shows thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators walking up Constitution Avenue in Washington. But what about American lives after birth?

The United States ranks near the bottom for infant mortality among the developed countries. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the death rate of babies born to African-American mothers in poverty is 2.5 times the rate for babies born to white mothers.

And what about our shamefully high homicide rate?

I hope those demonstrators care about these precious lives after birth.

Hiroshi Shimizu


Let the parties set rules for primaries

As a registered but unaffiliated voter, I resent my tax dollars going to fund primary elections ("'Approval voting' is best solution," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 22.

I don't care how, when or where Republicans and Democrats chose their candidates to run in the general election. But no one except the people registered in those parties should have any say, much less have to bear any expense, in that process.

Party primaries should be just that - party primaries.

If Democrats want to hold their primaries in homeless shelters on the second Thursdays of January, March and May from sunup to sundown, requiring no voter ID, and Republicans want to hold theirs in church halls from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on the fourth Saturday in April, requiring three forms of ID and National Rifle Association membership, then let them have at it.

I have never understood the clamor for allowing independents to vote in primaries. If you want to vote in the Lion's Club election, join the Lion's Club!

Moves to standardize or nationalize the primary process only further the entrenched duopoly of political control in this country, which we really need to begin undoing.

Very little real "change" and independent thinking is to be found in either of the major parties.

Dave Reich

Perry Hall

Marriage equality can ensure fairness

The Sun's interview with Carrie Evans, the director of policy and planning for Equality Maryland, makes clear to me the need for the legislature to pass a bill that will permit same-sex marriage ("Gays plan rights fight," Jan. 20).

I have long favored such a bill, but this interview spells out an array of issues that would be addressed by such a law and ways that it would secure fairness under the law for all who wish to live together as couples.

Susan W. Talbott


Paying kids to pass is just a quick fix

Just when I thought Baltimore's schools couldn't possibly get any worse, along comes city schools CEO Andres Alonso to prove me wrong ("Board divided over pay plan," Jan. 24).

As a taxpayer, I resent having to pay for something that teachers, clergy and especially parents should have been responsible for from day one.

This plan to pay students to pass tests is nothing more than a quick fix that in the long run will prove a dismal failure.

Richard Crystal


Competition is key to better schools

In his column "Middle class must revive the dream for the poor" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 21), Kenneth Lavon Johnson correctly observes that our failing public education system is partly responsible for stagnation in the quest for African-American equality and prosperity.

Unfortunately, most African-Americans, their political representatives and the teachers unions and bureaucrats that control the education system all oppose the reforms that could save America's schools - choice and competition.

Despite the sincere efforts of administrators and teachers, public schools fail because in the absence of competition, their failure has few direct consequences. Failing schools remain open, sub-par teachers are retained and bad policies and curriculums are perpetuated.

Every election year, politicians promise and voters clamor for the panacea of increased funding, despite considerable evidence that funding levels have a weak relationship with educational performance.

When public schools are forced to compete for students and dollars, they have an incentive to improve, and around the country, the experiences of school districts that have instituted school choice and competition have demonstrated that they do compete.

If African-Americans in Baltimore are tired of sending their children to bad schools, they should demand the option to send them elsewhere.

Brandon Payne


Real alternatives to trash television

David Zurawik suggests that rather than rue the writers' strike-induced increase in reality programming, we should accept it, or possibly even embrace it, because "the mass audience loves the genre" ("Facing Reality," Jan. 22).

The truth of that claim is clearly demonstrated by the fact that more people vote on American Idol than for their country's leaders.

But having thoroughly enjoyed three installments of the PBS series on the pioneers of television, I feel that Mr. Zurawik should reconsider his opinion that the notion that prime-time television has been greatly diminished by reality programming is merely an "elitist view." This elitist thinks that junk food and reality shows are the modern incarnation of "bread and circuses," foisted upon the public to dumb us down and distract us from the mess we are in.

And there is an alternative to wasting time watching "cringe-ably bad performers."

It's called reading.

But I suppose that, too, may be merely an "elitist view."

Janis L. Koch


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