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Choice Words

Posted 10/10/2001

I liked the thought-provoking title of your Oct. 3 feature. Hmm, "Choose or Lose"--does that imply that to show we're good feminists, determined to hang on to this precious right, we should all run out and have an abortion ASAP?

Writer Joyce Lombardi expends a lot of ink ruminating about why there's a dearth of doctors willing to do abortions. She has it partly right: As one of the pre-med students she interviewed hinted at, doing abortions all day is boring, unchallenging work; first-trimester abortions generally take only a few minutes each, and patients are dispatched in assembly-line fashion.

But a more basic reason is that even the ob/gyns who say they're pro-choice have a deep-seated repugnancy for the operation. It's comparable to the days of slavery: Society said slavery was fine, but slave traders themselves were looked down on with contempt. They were pariahs, avoided by genteel society, because people knew in their guts that slavery was wrong. In the same way, the more capable and respected ob/gyns, even the pro-choice ones, won't do abortions. The result is that, for the most part, abortions are left to incompetent and disreputable physicians, the dregs of the medical profession.

Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office files are rife with malpractice claims against them. As just one example, an abortionist who worked out of American HealthCare Services (mentioned in your article) has had nine medical malpractice claims brought against him in a 15-year period!

You mentioned three abortion-related deaths in the United States in 1997; one of them was at a Rockville clinic. A 27-year-old schoolteacher died after an abortion performed by a doctor who had been sued in the abortion-related death of a woman just the year before in his Harrisburg, Pa., clinic. All these cases are public record; I'd be happy to provide you with documentation for them and many others.

The bottom line is that no matter how you try to plaster it over with euphemisms like "choice" and "reproductive health," abortion is still abortion--the killing of an unborn child.

Diane Levero

I was struck by the tragic opening to your article "Choose or Lose," in which the husband of the young woman about to undergo an abortion says, "She wants to go to college, and a third child would stop her. We can't have another kid." What does it say about our society's support of women and families when a woman feels obliged to choose between either continuing her education or continuing with her pregnancy? If we really believe in choice, then we should be ensuring that women in this kind of situation actually do have meaningful choices open to them--for example through the nationwide provision of affordable, accessible crèches and child care. Leaving women feeling that abortion is their only real option because society makes it so difficult to combine education or employment and motherhood makes a mockery of the whole principle of "choice."

Ruth Gill

Nuclear Power = People Power
Regarding the recent letter from Max Obuszewski (The Mail, Sept. 26): I roll my eyes every time I hear the anti-nuke solution to storing nuclear waste, "Calvert Cliffs should be shut down immediately . . ." I have yet to hear the anti-nukes' plan for how to deal with the consequences of such an ill-informed, misguided approach to the issue. It would be like suggesting that the answer to air pollution caused by vehicle emissions is to "ban the use of all gas-powered vehicles immediately."

How would Mr. Obuszewski and others of his ilk solve the problem of absorbing Calvert Cliffs' 1,200 year-round employees and 800 contractors who would suddenly be unemployed? Or how about how Calvert, St. Mary's, and Charles counties would replace the lost tax base? (In 2000, Calvert County employees alone earned wages of more than $68 million; as the county's largest employer after the public-school system, the plant's tax bill is enormous.) Or how about the 7,600 hours per year donated by Calvert Cliffs employees as volunteers in their local communities? Or the $300,000 per year donated by employees to United Way and various charities?

There's more. How would we replace the power that Calvert Cliffs supplies to central Maryland (45 percent of the total)? Buying power from other utilities is expensive, and I don't hear anti-nukes yelling for more fossil plants. Maybe the anti-nukes would prefer giving up their computers and microwaves, or doing without the products supplied by businesses who use lower-cost nuclear power.

I am open to reasoned arguments against nuclear power, and especially intelligent plans for alternatives. All I have ever heard from anti-nukes is a lot of emotional blather. Until I hear something useful, I will continue to be a strong advocate for nuclear power.

Coleen Hanna

the best of everyone
Selecting the Creative Alliance as the "Best Artistic Community" was a great choice (Best of Baltimore, Sept. 19). Though I live in Philadelphia these days, I've been a member of the Creative Alliance for the past several years. The great folks at the Alliance like Jed Dodds, Megan Hamilton, Kini Collins, etc. are incredibly helpful people, extremely accessible, and always very generous in sharing opportunities for shows and festivals. In fact, Baltimore is full of artists who make and shape the scene, and who are also quite accessible and willing to share. Off the top of my head the names, Gary Kachadourian, Teresa Segreti, Beth Secor, Richard Ellsberry, and Kim Tyson come immediately to mind.

Having lived in other cities around the country where there always seems to be this "us" vs. "them" relationship between artists and those who run the art scene, I can appreciate what a rare and welcome occurrence the Baltimore artistic community is. You've got a good thing, Creative Alliance and Baltimore--keep it up!

Chris Dennstaedt

Blipped Off
It seems to me entirely proper to use school loose-leaf paper to criticize the editing of your movie reviews because the words you allow are often grammar-school caliber.

Crudity is never appropriate and it is certainly unnecessary if your critics have been educated beyond the sixth grade.

Surely your editor can change expletives to "blip" if he or she hasn't the training to eliminate them.

Jerry Adler

The Home Front
Where's the war and who are the warriors? Wiley Hall III wrote about President Bush's denouncement of Islam being synonymous with terrorism (Urban Rhythms, Sept. 26). Apparently the president's message has missed a few die-hard patriots. I picked up a City Paper Wednesday morning and boarded the No. 64 bus at North Avenue and St. Paul Street at 10 a.m. While I read Hall's column, we passed Penn Station and the driver decided to stop the bus and yell at the cab drivers who always line up alongside the station to transport arriving passengers: "You f'ing Muslims, get out of our country!" He then turned to me and said, "You see that? F'ing Muslims. F'ing murderers. I refilled all my ammo this weekend and dusted off my grenades, and I'm waiting on an automatic weapon now. We're gonna win this war. We're gonna kill them all."

I have never feared that a cab I was in would crash into a building in a suicidal terrorist act, but I am wary about riding the No. 64.

Atif Saleem

walk this way
Thank you so much for pointing out one of vanishing wonders of Baltimore by naming the Woodberry dump as the Best Hiking Trail. With the threat of not-so-smart growth spanning out in Baltimore from the tentacles of Loyola College, it is feared that this site will go the way of other lost wonders.

Let's rewrite this City Paper recognition piece with a positive spin: The threat of a disappearing hiking trail was only a pre-Halloween horror story, and the trail remains for all of Baltimore to enjoy.

Myles Hoenig

I want to thank you for naming Woodberry as the "Best Hiking Trail." Woodberry's residents are working hard to preserve this little oasis in the middle of Baltimore, and we have been awarded $25,000 in grants this year alone to plant native trees, remove invasive plants, and improve water quality. We have plans to make this area a beautiful place to hike, hang out, and just enjoy life.

We worry that Loyola College's plans will destabilize the neighborhood, pollute the Jones Falls, and take away Woodberry's woodland charm. We just hope that Loyola's bills do not pass in City Council. For more information, go to

Tracey Brown

Clarification: Due to an editing change, the opening sentence of last week's Mobtown Beat story on the Maryland Health Care Initiative (MHCI) stated that the nonprofit organization "has backed off plans to get [universal health coverage] atop the agenda for next year's General Assembly session and state elections." While MHCI has opted to forego legislation next year, it does plan to have an active role in the election, as its president, city Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson, asserted later in the article.

Also, a Critic's Choice pick in last week's Baltimore Weekly calendar made reference to blues artist John Hammond's "newfound sobriety." The wording was meant to convey the clarity and seriousness of purpose Hammond brought to the songs on his latest album, not to any aspect of his personal life.

Editor's note: It's your last chance to send us word about your holiday events so they can be included in our annual Holiday Guide calendar. Any holiday-related happening between Nov. 14 and Jan. 1 is grist for our seasonal mill. Include black-and-white or color photos or slides if you have them (but be aware that, unlike unwanted gifts, they can't be returned). Send to Holiday Guide, City Paper, 812 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201, fax to (410) 523-8437, or e-mail However you send it, make sure it gets here by Oct. 14.

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