I would encourage everyone who has read this thorough, sensitive article to write to their U.S. senators and representatives about this growing problem.
Jeffrey R. Isabel
Thank you for your cover story on battered women subjugated and trying to survive here on H-4 visas ("The Land of Blood and Money"). Hard to say they are "living" here under such conditions. Thank you for the powerful art on the front page.
I am always glad when we are confronted with the abuse we enable, allow, promote. Hopefully there will be change. Thanks again.
Didn't Get It
I am really offended by your front page "illustration" for the May 3 article on battered women of foreign workers -- mainly from India ("The Land of Blood and Money"). You used an inaccurate representation of an Indian passport by using and defacing a copy of the Canadian passport! You might as well use your American passport and do the same with it if you could not find an actual passport.
Female Cracker Morons Who Maim
Thank you for an accurate and informative article on biking in the city ("Cracker Morons Who Maim," Matt Smith, May 10). I ride to work every day and, despite rigorously following the traffic rules, have near-death experiences two to three times a week. I know it's just a matter of time until I get doored. By the way, it's not "always a him." I find that women drivers are just as intolerant as men.
Thanks again for putting my feelings into words.
Ounce of Prevention
I appreciated Peter Byrne's efforts to bring a balanced discussion to the emotion-choked issue of baby dumping in his May 3 article ("Baby With the Bath Water," Bay View). As images of infants stuffed in trash cans chill our hearts, and bills allowing mothers to anonymously abandon newborn babies at hospital emergency rooms move forward in the Legislature, I applaud efforts to address such acts of desperation with compassion. However, I'm also appalled that so much of our energy is spent responding to problems, rather than avoiding them. This policy misses a crucial point: Unwanted pregnancies can be prevented simply and easily with emergency contraception.
In California, there is one unplanned pregnancy every minute. While a handful of women are frightened and isolated enough to abandon a child in desperation, there are hundreds of thousands more who do not. Baby abandonment protocols, no matter how compassionate, are a shortsighted solution to the problem of unwanted pregnancy. It's not clear what this program will cost, but we know that contraception saves money. Every dollar spent for contraceptive services saves $3 in public funds that would have been needed to provide prenatal and newborn medical care alone. It appears that politicians would rather play hero in rare, dramatic cases, than pass legislation that could increase contraceptive access for thousands of women in the state.
What if a woman could simply take a pill a day or so after intercourse to avoid unwanted pregnancy? She can. Emergency contraception, or the "morning after" pill, is simple: A higher dose of contraceptive pills taken within 72 hours of unplanned intercourse gives a woman a second chance to avoid pregnancy. Emergency contraception reduces that chance by about 75 percent. It's an option when a regular form of contraception fails. It is safe, and it works best when it is taken as soon as possible after sex. That's a problem: When is the last time you got to see a doctor on a moment's notice?
Doctors can fix that problem: We can prescribe emergency contraception to patients BEFORE the fact, so they can be prepared at any time, when mistakes happen. Emergency contraceptive pills should be ready in the medicine cabinet of every woman in California who wants and needs them. Medical research has made progress in emergency contraception. Our studies show that emergency contraception does not cause women to abandon regular methods of birth control. We know that taking pills will not harm a fetus if a woman is already pregnant. We know this medication is safe. In prescribing practices, doctors can do better.
But what about women who don't have doctors? The mothers who abandon babies probably don't have ready access to a medical provider. Women without regular medical care and birth control methods need emergency contraception the most. Women who might hide a pregnancy or abandon an infant are the least empowered and most isolated among us. They may not be able to assert to a partner to use contraception, or they may be victims of forced sex. Ideally, these women would have doctors they trust. But the least we can offer is easy access to emergency contraception. We could make access to emergency contraception as easy as a trip to your local pharmacy. It's that easy in Washington.
In Washington state, a bill passed last year allowing pharmacists to give emergency contraception without a prescription, using physician-guided protocols. The program has been a success. In February 1999, Sen. DeDe Alpert introduced a similar bill in California, SB 404. It's been inactive in the Legislature for over a year. The legislators who are so willing to act to save a handful of abandoned babies should not forget over 500,000 women in the state who also struggle over an unplanned pregnancy every year. It's about time the California Legislature passed emergency contraception pharmacy access legislation, and Gov. Davis signed it.
Pamela Ling, M.D.
UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Our Apologies, John
Thanks from all of us here to Michael Scott Moore for getting it ("Facial Hair," Stage, May 10)! Also for the gratuitous Steve Winn slams -- we cut all ties there after the Fringe fiasco of last year. A true cretin. It's been a true privilege to work with Dan Carbone over the course of the last couple years and this piece was a particularly amazing process (as I'm sure you can well imagine).
One small item -- the photo accompanying the review was done not by Laurie Gallant (Exit's regular photographer), but by John Sowle. A small but irksome issue here on the home front. Again, many thanks.