- The Washington Times - Monday, May 6, 2002

Mental-health parity is a matter of basic civil rights'

It is time to stop insurance discrimination against the 20 percent of Americans 50 million people who suffer unnecessarily from diagnosable mental disorders ("A health-care sellout?" Editorials, April 29).

Mental illnesses are real brain disorders that require diagnosis and treatment by trained physicians. There is no scientific, clinical, fiscal or ethical reason to condemn people with mental illness by limiting their treatment options and forcing them to pay much more for their care than they would for any other medical illness.

President Bush clearly made the right choice to support historic mental-health parity legislation that will expand access to health care for millions of our fellow citizens and level the playing field for people who require treatment for mental illness. Mental-health parity is a matter of basic civil rights. Two-thirds of the Senate and more than half the House are on record as supporting such a measure.

Congress must pass mental-health parity legislation and provide long-anticipated and meaningful health reform. We all must combat the stigma and discrimination that has accompanied mental illness for centuries.


RICHARD K. HARDING, M.D.

President

American Psychiatric Association

Washington

Deception and emergency contraception

In her letter to the editor "No deception about 'emergency contraception,'" Dr. Wendy Chavkin, chairman of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, is indeed deceptive in promoting passage of the Emergency Contraception Education Bill recently introduced in Congress.

Dr. Chavkin said the bill would provide "information regarding the availability of a safe and effective birth control option." It is true that emergency contraception (EC), when it functions, provides "birth control," but the doctor was deceptive when she didn't speak the whole truth. EC sometimes works by preventing conception and other times by aborting a newly conceived human being.

Dr. Chavkin was again deceptive when she said the EC pill is "safe" but didn't mention potential side effects: nausea, vomiting, ectopic pregnancy, blood clots in the legs and lungs, heart attack, stroke, liver damage, liver tumor, gallbladder disease and high blood pressure. Women who smoke and women with certain other medical conditions shouldn't even think about taking EC pills.

Dr. Chavkin wants women to know only what she wants them to know about EC, and "reproductive choice" advocates fight vigorously against legislation to provide women with information about surgical abortions, including the dangerous side effects, fetal development and alternatives to help women who really don't want to abort.

Why are those who promote abortion so deceptive?


JOHN NAUGHTON

Silver Spring

A bloody smear of U.N. staff

In his April 26 Commentary column "U.N.'s point man in Jenin," Paul Greenberg made some serious and damaging allegations about the United Nations that cannot be allowed to pass without rebuttal.

Mr. Greenberg said that the United Nations "over the years has allowed its camps to become centers of terror, complete with arsenals and bomb factories." In fact, the United Nations has no camps. The United Nations, through its Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugee, provides humanitarian services to refugees, some of whom live in camps. The agency does not administer or "run" any camps and has no sovereign authority over them. The administrative authority for the camps, which are in fact no more than concentrations of refugees with no perimeter, was passed from the Israeli civilian administration to the Palestinian Authority under the terms of the Oslo Accords.

More seriously, Mr Greenberg makes the outrageous statement that the United Nations "declined offers of blood plasma from Israeli donors for people caught in Jenin, causing a critical delay in humanitarian aid. The United Nations preferred to wait for help from Jordan rather than accept 'Jewish blood.'" This statement has absolutely no basis in fact. The agency's relief teams that tried to enter Jenin with medical and other supplies during and immediately after the fighting were never offered any blood plasma from Israeli sources. If we had been, we would never have turned down such critical assistance. To say otherwise is a distasteful smear on U.N. staff who risk their lives to assist the victims of violence in the region.


PAUL McCANN

Chief, public information office

U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

Gaza

Natural-gas buses leave diesel in the dust

Your editorial April 28 "Clean diesel buses" is wrongheaded. Today's natural-gas buses produce far fewer pollutants than comparable diesel buses, and this will continue to be true. The California Air Resources Board study to which you refer compared an in-use natural gas bus with no emission controls with a diesel bus equipped with high-tech emissions technologies that runs on fuel that won't be generally available until 2006 if then. Even at that, the diesel bus produced more ozone-producing nitrogen oxides than the old natural-gas bus. New, commercially available natural-gas buses equipped with simple emission controls produce far less pollution than the diesel bus tested.

Regarding the Bladensburg facility, the majority of the expenses are being incurred to bring the 40-year-old facility up to code installing basic safety controls such as sprinklers not to ready it for natural-gas buses. All these changes will be required anyway when Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority begins phasing in the next generation of buses, such as fuel-cell buses.

Yes, natural-gas buses cost more, but they give more back. Natural-gas buses produce less pollution and require less petroleum to be imported from Iraq, Iran or other countries in the Middle East. That's why more than 25 percent of transit buses on order in the United States are natural-gas buses.


RICHARD KOLODZIEJ

President

Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition

Washington


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