More will suffer
It is easy to understand why State Rep. Margo Davidson, whose cousin had been a victim of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, would vote to regulate all abortion providers out of existence ("The personal stake behind abortion vote," Dec. 16). But making safe and responsible abortion-care providers upgrade their facilities and staffing to the level of ambulatory surgical centers will do nothing to prevent another Gosnell.
According to the grand jury report, Gosnell violated many laws, and the state failed to follow up on repeated complaints against him. This new law provides no protection against those who are intent on violating it.
There remains ongoing misinformation about the commonwealth's authority to inspect abortion-care providers. The administration of the late Gov. Bob Casey had the opportunity to shut down Gosnell because of repeated deficiencies found in inspections, but it did not. The Ridge and Rendell administrations only inspected clinics when they were newly opened or relocated. However, since the Gosnell grand jury report, the Department of Health has exercised its existing authority to inspect, and has repeatedly and aggressively done so.
In the guise of protecting women's health, the Pennsylvania legislature has advanced its agenda to shut down abortion clinics. In fact, by driving good providers out of practice and sending the cost of safe procedures sky-high, the bill Davidson voted for is likely to cause more women to suffer her cousin's fate.
Carol E. Tracy, executive director, Women's Law Project, Philadelphia
Abortion is a procedure with a complication rate of 0.1 percent. If Semika Shaw had sought abortion care at a reputable clinic, like Planned Parenthood or the Philadelphia Women's Center, she would be alive today. This fact was noted by the grand jury report in the Gosnell case, which praised the many clinics that provide safe, professional care.
Those same clinics are now threatened by legislation that places burdens on clinics so great that these safe, professional facilities may close and be unable to serve women like Semika Shaw.
We all mourn Shaw's death, and we all recognize the pain State Rep. Margo Davidson's family has faced. Unfortunately, the vote to pass SB 732 will do little besides burden the high quality clinics that could have saved Shaw's life. That, too, is a tragedy.
Andy Hoover, legislative director, ACLU of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
The latest details of alleged fraud and criminal behavior that occurred under John Green's watch at the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office are merely the official recounting of one of the longest running (and costliest) political and policy embarrassments in the region. What's equally disturbing is the Editorial Board's inconsistency on the potential solutions to the problems presented by this case ("Separate sales, Sheriff's Office," Dec. 15).
The Inquirer said it's time to "radically change the responsibilities of the Sheriff's Office," and chastised Sheriff-elect Jewell Williams for not yet detailing his reform plans. Yet, when The Inquirer had the opportunity to endorse a sheriff's candidate in the May primary who promised radical changes, John Kromer, it chose instead to back Williams, the party-endorsed candidate who promised to retain the status quo.
The Inquirer's flip-flop points out the stunning lack of commitment to direct its energy toward true municipal reform. Let's hope our political leaders are more committed to setting things right.
Andy Denison, former communications director, Kromer for Sheriff campaign, Philadelphia
Wow, two Eagles wins in a row, with two good defensive performances in a row ("Still up for grabs," Monday). Who will the press say must be fired now? The assistant to the assistant ball boy?
Ron Costello, Warminster, firstname.lastname@example.org
I was stunned to read that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has told its employees that they are required to notify church lawyers before responding to requests from law enforcement about child sex abuse ("Prosecutors challenge archdiocese memo," Saturday). Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington rightly said that the request not only posed a conflict, but also would have a "chilling effect" on trying to get at the truth.
This outrageous move demonstrates that the archdiocese will continue to behave the same way it has for decades: blocking every effort of prosecutors and courts to get at the truth.
Pennsylvania legislators should recognize this latest move by the archdiocese as yet another indicator that the only way to deal with the sexual abuse of children is through immediate legislative action.
John Salveson, president, Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse Inc., Bryn Mawr, Salveson@abolishsexabuse.org
Smiling at PHA
I shamelessly smiled when I read about the tax liens of Carl Greene, former director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority ("Pa. places tax lien on ex-PHA chief," Dec. 17). Only if you were an employee during his reign would you understand the visceral gloating many of us feel upon learning of his new troubles. The media focus was on the sexual harassment charges against Greene, but Greene's abuses extend far beyond such charges. When I recently visited the newest PHA office and spoke with some of the employees, I saw, for the first time, many smiling faces.