The Baltimore Sun

Medical conscience rule will limit access to care

The article "Rule will strengthen right to refuse care" (Nov. 30) describes the Bush administration's last-minute efforts to push a "right of conscience" rule that would enable health care workers to refuse to have any involvement in treatments they may not condone for religious reasons and to refuse to provide information to patients regrading such treatments.

Such measures pose a serious threat to the ethical practice of medicine in our country.

By refusing to inform patients of all their options when they seek medical advice, a medical professional denies his or her patients their ability to make autonomous medical decisions.

Recognition of and respect for a patients' autonomy are paramount in practicing medicine responsibly. Adhering to one's religious convictions is admirable but not when it interferes with the ethical practice of medicine.

This rule would give technicians and pharmacists the power to limit patients' access to procedures and products according to the beliefs of the medical care worker. This is a frightening concept.

At what point will our society grant patients the right to make their own health choices?

Dr. Stan Brull, Baltimore

Focus funding on work with adult stem cells

I have a radical idea: Let's direct federal funding for medical science to the sort of research that is actually providing healing right now ("An about-face on stem cells," Dec. 1).

There are no cures to be found along the path of embryonic stem cell research. Indeed, these cells have created cancerous tumors in experiments on rats.

In contrast, adult stem cells are being used right now as approved medicine in people for various kinds of illnesses.

Why has this area of study been politicized?

Let's fund science, not an ideology that genuflects to left-leaning forces whose only goal seems to be to legitimize abortion rights.

Michael Zimmer, Eldersburg

The writer is a Carroll County commissioner.

Say no to bailout for auto industry

Congress now must say a definite "no" to the handout-seeking auto industry CEOs who took separate private jets to go to Washington to beg for aid ("D-day for a GM plan," editorial," Dec. 1).

U.S. taxpayers should not get stuck bailing out the mismanaged auto industry and supporting the high wages that the United Auto Workers union has secured for its members.

We should let the automakers declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy and dig themselves out of the mess they have created.

A bailout for the auto industry would be like sending an arsonist to put out a big fire.

Al Eisner, Wheaton

Can post at State be a stepping stone?

If Sen. Hillary Clinton is concerned about someday becoming president if she becomes secretary of state, she need not worry ("A new doctrine of 'soft power,'" Dec. 2).

There is ample precedent for this in American history, as six former secretaries of state have become president; one (Martin Van Buren) was even from the state of New York.

On the other hand, the last person to do so was James Buchanan, who completed his work in 1849.

Still, it is difficult to say no to a presidential request.

Howard K. Ottenstein, Baltimore

Support new leader as he deals with crises

The writer of the letter "Obama now evading grandiose promises" (Nov. 30) takes President-elect Barack Obama to task for not living up to his promises.

Every politician makes promises, and some are even sincere about making them. But time and circumstances determine how well a promise can be fulfilled. The serious problems facing the new president will determine his priorities.

But isn't it premature to be judging President-elect Obama?

Isn't it time for all of us - Democrats, Republicans and other Americans - to get behind the new president and think and speak and act in terms of what is good for our country?

The letter writer and others like her need to realize that we are at the most critical period in the history of our country and that we need to put politics aside.

Molly Koch, Pikesville

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