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April 13, 2009 Letters to the Editor

‘Facts’ challenged

In his April 8 letter, Aaron Eastman quotes “statistics” suggesting domestic abuse is 20 times more frequent when comparing same-sex couples to heterosexual couples and that “one-third of child molestation cases are homosexual.” It is not surprising that Mr. Eastman does not reference a source for this information, since these “statistics” are not supported by any credible, peer-reviewed research. While we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own “facts.”

McClennen (Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2005 Feb.) reports “similarities between opposite and same-gender domestic violence in terms of prevalence, and types of abuse.” There are no data that suggest a higher incidence of domestic violence in same-sex couples. A review of the pediatric medical literature reveals that girls are more likely than boys to be sexually abused (although abuse of boys is more likely to go unreported), and that sexual abuse of preadolescent girls is associated with the presence of a male relative or nonbiologically related male in the home. Mr. Eastman’s “statistics” are simply wrong.

Marriage is not just a religious construct, but a secular one as well, governed by state law. As such the real issue is whether we will extend equal rights and full protection under the law to committed couples of the same sex who wish to marry. I urge support for Sen. Damon’s legislation to allow same-sex marriage in Maine. Let’s not use fear and create our own “facts” when debating this issue.

Irwin Gross


• • •

Ultimate child abuse

Since it is Child Abuse Prevention month, I attended the annual gathering at the Hall of Flags in the State House a couple weeks ago, where representatives from each county displayed their programs for legislators to see. Unfortunately, since most had been called away to Washington for a meeting, only a few politicians were there.

The governor and several other prominent people made speeches and affirmed those who work so hard to protect the children of Maine, so that they have every chance to grow up in a safe environment. I was proud and glad to see the faces of these people who speak for those who cannot defend themselves. With a “Prevent Child Abuse” button pinned to my lapel and a symbolic blue pinwheel in hand, I left, deciding to take the scenic route home and think about all I had seen and heard.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that not one word had been mentioned about the children whose safe haven in the womb had become their tomb. As I drove past the Augusta Family Planning Center, I thought about these precious little ones who were never given a chance to live because of the unspeakable violence that is done to their bodies in the very place that should be safest of all.

Who, employed by our state and government, is speaking for these ones who have no voice? Why not?

Daphne Tieman


• • •

Test elderly drivers

The headline in the April 7 BDN, “Alzheimer’s test tells when to quit driving,” is misleading. No such test exists. The article describes an experiment in which early-stage Alzheimer’s patients made more mistakes driving in Iowa than elders without Alzheimer’s. “But some Alzheimer’s patients drove just as well as well as their healthier counterparts.” This is the key sentence.

An obvious conclusion is that early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, like elders generally, differ from one another. The goal of a quick exam in a doctor’s office to determine driving fitness is unrealistic.

Would it be “ageist” to ask elderly people to prove their driving competence by road tests after a designated age, say 80? Such a requirement, though lumping them in a category, would also treat them as individuals. For drivers with good records, one road test before age 85 would be enough. After that, yearly tests could identify, in some drivers, skill deficiencies to be remedied before license renewal.

Many older drivers use common sense to stop driving after dark and on freeways. Tests in a doctor’s office will not tell them when it is time to give up their car keys.

Impaired older drivers are scary. So are simplistic solutions to complex problems.

Peg Cruikshank


• • •

Smiley hits home run

Sarah Smiley’s column of April 6 was great. I loved her commentary on her sons’ Little League baseball activity and how the parents cheer and suffer with each pitch.

My husband and I have gone though this for 10 years with our grandsons and it doesn’t get any better, I’m sorry to say! No, the boys play for Brewer High School and the older one also plays on the American Legion team, Brewer Falcons.

My daughter, also like Sarah, has three boys and as grandparents we cheer and suffer through a lot of baseball games.

Go Red Sox and Sarah Smiley!

Patricia Denner


• • •

MaineCare woes

Bravo to Reps. Burns and Tilton on their OpEd piece putting MaineCare costs in perspective, but they could go further than “reforming” the bloated menu of benefits and chiding the governor.

The management of MaineCare and its adjacent Department of Health and Human Services has demonstrated over and over that they are totally dysfunctional and fiscally mismanaged. Remember the “sudden” appearance of the unaccounted for federal Medicaid funds several years ago? First it was a few million, then $50 million and ultimately $100-plus million in federal Medicaid payments to the state that could not be properly accounted for.

What about the MaineCare billing fiasco of two years ago? MaineCare admitted that more than $60 million was wasted on the failed new billing system required by the federal government. MaineCare had to scrap the system and hire a new contractor to start fresh. That $60 million could have helped a lot of Mainers in need.

Did anyone get fired? Was there any reform? Now we have the same management springing another multimillion-dollar “overlooked” shortfall in Medicaid funds. Our Washington County legislators expressed it well — millions get casually accounted for in Augusta by this administration and people Down East are suffering. Just the other night, we took in a kid at the request of the state. MaineCare’s reimbursement is $16.37 per day for a teenager in crisis and it can’t account for megamillions in Augusta. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

Peter Duston


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