Prescription for women's safety

Having read in vivid detail the trial testimony about the alleged shop of horrors run by abortionist Kermit Gosnell, I wonder when we as a society will realize that proactive, universal policies that enable women to avoid unwanted pregnancies must be a priority. Policies that mandate timely sex education for our teens, including options such as abstinence and uninhibited access to birth-control for young men and women, are socially responsible actions that we must take to ensure that early and especially late-term abortions are minimized or eliminated. So I commend the recent decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow for availability of the morning-after pill to girls as young as 15. Only when we accept that all women of childbearing age and any economic status should have access to a full range of reproductive health services will we create an environment that eliminates the opportunity for an unscrupulous abortionist to operate.

Joe McKinley, Warrington, jmckinley21@verizon.net

Boy Scout camp, it's not

It may well be naïve to conclude that Guantanamó Bay continues to exist only because of bureaucratic inertia and a lack of courage ("Work harder to close Gitmo," May 8). I suspect that there are principled and dedicated folks in government who are far closer to the realities of the field than most. And, I strongly suspect that many prisoners that commentator Cynthia Tucker paints a delightful portrait of may, in fact, be much closer to goodfellas than to good fellows - and that is why it's so hard to close Gitmo.

John Baxter, Exton

No teaching moment on contracts

As a longtime teacher and parent in the School District, I certainly believe that teachers should be accountable for supporting their students' learning ("Reforms for next school contract," May 6). But let's look at the realities. What makes it OK to even suggest that children should go to school in places where there are no class-size limits, no books, no libraries, no art, and no counselors? We shouldn't even entertain such an idea. So, reforming teacher contracts will not magically improve teaching and learning if, at the same time, teachers and schools are expected to do more with a lot less.

Dina Portnoy, Philadelphia

Schools have to earn more aid

Maybe if the Philadelphia public schools did a better job of educating graduates, a lot of us would feel sympathetic about the funding shortfall ("Doomsday scenario for schools," May 6). But all we ever hear is how much more money the School District needs and, get this, it wants Pennsylvania taxpayers to kick in more than we already do. By any standards, the dropout rate in the district is appalling, so the answer to the request to the state legislature for an additional $120 million should be a resounding no. The rest of us already have our hands full paying for our own crummy public schools. If Philadelphia needs more money for its schools, it can get all of it from the residents, properties, politicians, and businesses in the city.

Peter Moore, Jeffersonville

Downsizing their own customers

Highly paid corporate execs beware, since what goes around comes around. Walmart's policy of reducing its labor force, paying low wages while expecting others to pick up the slack, is beginning to hurt customer satisfaction and its bottom line. Powerful former Apple executive Ron Johnson, believing that giving the ax to a large swath of JCPenney staffers would increase profits, got the ax himself as Penney's profits, as well as customer satisfaction, plunged. Customer satisfaction and profits are even falling at McDonald's, as it continues to pay low wages to disenchanted employees with little hope of promotion.

Treating ordinary workers as if they're expendable, pushing them to work harder and harder for less and less compensation, indeed, has a huge downside. Not only does it sully the reputation of companies, as poorly paid employees are more likely to perform poorly; it also puts less money in their pockets, forcing working folks to tighten their belts, reducing overall demand for products and services, diminishing corporate profits while increasing inventories throughout our national economy.

Lawrence Uniglicht, Galloway

New funding one for the books

The Upper Chichester Library has a referendum on the May 21 ballot that will allow the library to be self-sustaining with funding through the property tax, rather than the township's general fund. The modest tax increase would be the equivalent cost of a cup of coffee and a doughnut, or one magazine per month. But the money raised through this tax will be used to expand and improve the library into a state-of-the-art technology library/computer and service center.

Libraries are no longer just a collection of books, but an important link to both education and a better life. Libraries also are democratic institutions meant to be used by all people regardless of race, religion, age, or income. In addition, a modern library increases real-estate values, enhances a town's image, attracts business, and improves leadership at all levels. Unfortunately, there is no free lunch, and a well-maintained and up-to-date library, and its dedicated employees, cost money.

Dawn Daniels, president; Nicholas J. Tortorello, trustee, Upper Chichester Library

Staffers, defibrillator to thank

Last year, I was exercising at the Lansdale YMCA when, suddenly, I had a serious heart attack. Fewer than 5 percent of people survive an attack such as this, since I was effectively dead - flatlined. But the Y branch executive, Karen Rice, and aquatic director Clarisse Sulyok immediately sprang into action, using an electronic defibrillator to bring me back to life. Then, Lansdale Hospital helicoptered me to Abington Memorial Hospital. There followed four weeks spent in a coma, and 14 weeks in the hospital before starting rehabilitation. At one point, a doctor told my wife that she would need to consider taking me off life-support. Thank goodness, she said, "No, he's in there, I know it." Hospital staff now call me the miracle man, and I thank the Y staff, my wife, and all those who sent up prayers on my behalf for the fact that I'm still alive and on this side of the grass.

Bob Klein, Harleysville, RobtKlein@aol.com

Phanatic's 35 years of fun

When I was in eighth grade 36 years ago, The Inquirer ran a contest asking readers to name the gigantic, green, and fuzzy character that was to become the mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies. How exciting it was for all of us. Over the years since, Phillies fans have come to adore the mascot's huge, charismatic charm, as well as being entertained and inspired by its wit and agility.

Wayne E. Williams, Camden