- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Regulating abortion clinics

The article “Clinic must release abortion data” (Nation, Thursday), which details a Kansas grand jury’s investigation of illegal late-term abortions, exposes the fact that abortion remains one of the most unregulated and unaccountable medical procedures in the country.

As a result of secrecy and lack of accountability, our pets likely are safer at the veterinarian’s office than women are at some abortion clinics.

Occasionally, an intrepid government official, acting on a tip by a patient or employee, breaks through the stone wall of secrecy and uncovers abuses. A Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Johnson County, Kan., is facing 107 criminal counts based on a confidential review of just 29 patient records.

An abortion clinic in Kansas City, Kan., was raided after former employees told of coffee cups full of syringes, medical tools stored near toilets and fetuses stored in refrigerators used by employees for lunches. The proprietor’s license eventually was revoked when the search produced syringes of medication in an unlocked refrigerator and a dead mouse inside the facility.

Just how far abortion clinics will go in violating the law was illustrated by an undercover investigation by the pro-life organization Life Dynamics of 800 Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation facilities. Evidence includes taped conversations documenting the willingness of abortion clinic staff to illegally cover up cases of statutory rape.

According to Americans United for Life, which monitors state abortion legislation, just 23 states have health and safety regulations that apply to all abortions. Virginia only regulates abortion after the first trimester. Maryland is among eight states with abortion clinic health and safety regulations that are enjoined in litigation and/or are not enforced.

Abortion advocates successfully lobbied Virginia state senators to kill a bill that would have subjected abortion clinics to the same regulations as outpatient surgery centers. They argued that requiring such safety measures would force many abortion clinics to shut down. Advocates also contend that health and safety oversight will make abortion access more difficult, relegating abortions to dangerous “back alley clinics.”

The admission that abortion clinics would not meet health and safety standards should spur legislators to act to protect the health and safety of women. Covered up from the light of health and safety oversight and accountability, every abortion clinic remains a “back alley clinic.”

JONATHAN IMBODY

Vice president for government

relations

Christian Medical Association

Washington Office

Ashburn, Va.

Valuing education

The editorial on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind program states: “Our nation’s educational system needs an overhaul to ensure our students’ competitiveness globally” (“Reauthorizing NCLB,” Sunday).

Unfortunately, you don’t support that statement in any of your comments, views or suggestions when you urge more state and local control of our schools.

In 1983, the Reagan administration and the Committee for Excellence in Education issued the report “A Nation at Risk.” President Reagan’s administration and every administration since has ignored this report’s stark and startling findings pursuant to better preparation and merit pay for our teachers, raising the achievement standards of our children and their poor performance on international assessments compared with the children of more than 30 industrialized nations.

Today we and our children are a nation in crisis. Our children cannot be considered the property of 50 states and taught by teachers with varying levels of training and proficiency and curriculum standards and tests that have just two things in common: their dramatic differences and disparities.

Our children deserve to be educated as a nation of children. The No Child Left Behind Act must be reauthorized with national curriculum standards that states must meet. In addition, this legislation must set national standards for teacher preparation and certification.

Though this may cause state policy-makers and legislators and even some members of Congress to stroke, we should consider eliminating state assessments and moving to an overhaul and full expansion of kindergarten through grade 12 of the National Assessment of Education Progress and Program for International Student Assessment to assess America’s children’s progress and proficiency levels.

Our children are not competing against one another, but against the children of more than 30 industrialized nations. If America’s children are to be ready for the global marketplace, workforce and postsecondary education, they must all be on the same educational foundation, with equal opportunities and equal expectations.

If we are truly a nation of parents, citizens, policy-makers and legislators at both the state and federal level, we and the next president will once again place a high value on public education. We will put aside egos and personal agendas that have nothing to do with educating our children and far too much with archaic teacher preparation programs and teacher unions. Our nation’s children are always our greatest obligation.

MARCIE LIPSITT

Franklin, Mich.

Maryland’s state exercise

I wonder how many other Marylanders were unaware until now that our lawmakers in the General Assembly spend their valuable time pondering bills that would add to the state’s already long list of 21 symbols. The newest suggestion is that “walking” be designated the state exercise (“Renewed steps taken to name a state exercise,” Metropolitan, Friday).

How many times have we come to the end of the legislative session in March and learned that there was not enough time to complete the state’s business? At times, even a very important piece of legislation could not be considered because time ran out or the session, for that same reason, was extended beyond the deadline date for adjournment.

It is my understanding that a state symbol is something representative of the entire state. I agree with Delegate Richard A. Sossi, who said that naming walking as a state activity is “like saying breathing is the state activity because everyone does it.”

I disagree with his assessment, however, that the Smith Island cake is acceptable as the state dessert because it’s a “Maryland thing.” It is, as I see it, a local thing, and as wonderful as the cake may be, it has no business being on the list of symbols that should represent the full state.

On the other hand, the crab, as an example, represents not only a common creature on Maryland’s coast and waterways, but a vital part of Maryland’s economy.

Sen. Verna L. Jones, who sponsored the new bill on walking, says, “Why not have the state promote good health?” But the General Assembly over the years has passed bills that promote health and safety. Is there no limit to what can be adopted as a state symbol or activity?

Saving money is a good thing to promote. So are swimming and stamp or coin collecting. Contributing to charities that do research to cure diseases is another. Where does the list end of good activities to promote? Shall we list all as “state activities”?

The schoolchildren who suggested the idea of walking as a state activity should be congratulated for their desire to promote walking. They might instead plan a school- or area-wide “commercial” that possibly could be shared on a television station.

I hope, however, that the Maryland General Assembly will begin to bring common sense to the legislative business for which we pay them with our tax dollars. A beginning would be to put a period right now at the end of the superfluous list of state activities and symbols.

AUBURN S. ROMOSER

Beltsville, MD.

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