The Baltimore Sun

Helping mothers helps bottom line

Thanks to The Baltimore Sun for continuing to put a spotlight on Maryland's poor birth outcomes and on the need to intervene early to improve these outcomes, even before a woman becomes pregnant ("Help for young mothers," editorial, Dec. 22).

The editorial mentions the recent expansion of health insurance to cover more parents. And it is very important to get as many of women enrolled in Medicaid as possible and then provide extra services to women at risk of difficult pregnancies. However, the Medicaid expansion only covers women with family incomes up to 116 percent of the federal poverty level. It would make sense to provide health services to all women who have had a difficult pregnancy, even those ineligible for health insurance.

Indeed, an analysis just completed by Advocates for Children and Youth shows that this would ultimately save the state money by avoiding expensive medical services for premature and low-birthweight babies.

The terrible economy may require the state to postpone expanding health insurance to all women, but it should also underscore the need to take the cost-effective step of providing health services to women at risk of a pregnancy with a poor outcome.

Matthew Joseph, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Advocates for Children and Youth.

Mother's family likely to struggle

It is sad that a 19-year-old woman lost the twins she was carrying because good medical care was not forthcoming before and during her pregnancy. But according to the editorial "Help for young mothers" (Dec. 22), this young woman already had two children when that pregnancy ended. She has now added an additional child, is pregnant again and "plans to marry the baby's father" soon.

Excuse me for being rude enough to count, but had the twins lived, she might be up to six children at this point. And she's unmarried and unable to afford health insurance.

The "help" this mother needed, and still needs, is not medical care but birth control.

The biggest "tragedy" about this whole story is that she either didn't have it offered to her or declined to bother using it.

Judy Chernak, Pikesville

Office that Palin sought demands more gravitas

It is one thing to call upon the governor of New York to appoint Caroline Kennedy to fill the remaining two years in Hillary Clinton's term of office in the Senate.

But it's quite a different thing to ask the people of the United States to elect Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as vice president, particularly in these most troubled times and as the running mate of a 72-year-old presidential candidate.

Jonah Goldberg makes light of this distinction and thereby renders his commentary meaningless ("Cinderella versus the Barracuda," Commentary, Dec. 22).

Dan Tracy, Baltimore

Another way drug war corrupts our system

As a retired police detective, I am only too aware of the ways Ronald Fraser's observations ring true ("Getting paid with raids," Commentary, Dec. 10). Civil asset forfeiture has corrupted my profession.

Hundreds of cases of this kind of corruption come to light every year, and they are generated by our dysfunctional and immoral drug war.

It should be pointed out that prosecutors' offices also often profit from such forfeitures. Everyone wants this "free" money.

Will it take a depression to force us to abandon the modern form of prohibition that is the war on drugs?

Howard J. Wooldridge, Frederick

The writer is an education specialist for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Legalize drugs to end plague of city violence

I was moved to tears by Peter Hermann's article "Living through the violence, hoping for the best" (Dec. 23).

Incidents like the shooting of young Carlos Woods should not happen anywhere, least of all in the most affluent and supposedly powerful country in the world.

Virtually all of the gun violence that occurs in Baltimore and, I dare say, in other U.S. urban areas is related to the illegal drug trade.

There is a very simple solution to this problem: Legalize drugs now.

Jim McCabe, Baltimore

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