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Byline: The Register-Guard

Malpractice system is broken

The headline, "Malpractice caps won't fix problem," on William Brody's Nov. 21 Commentary article echoes what I teach law students in torts. It also echoes Oregon voters' recent rejection of limits on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

What Brody failed to note is that caps are the cruelest way to unsuccessfully attack the broken medical justice system: They only limit the recoveries of the most seriously injured. Caps mean that patients with devastating injuries get the smallest percentage of their desperately needed damages awards.

Brody is president of Johns Hopkins University. He notes that nine out of 10 victims of medical malpractice go uncompensated but fails to mention the raw numbers of injured patients.

According to the Healthgrades 2004 study, an average of 195,000 Americans died due to in-hospital errors each year from 2000 through 2002. Extrapolating from this, the number of patients seriously injured due to medical errors is mind-boggling.

Brody concludes that torts lawyers are the only persons benefiting from the current, admittedly broken medical malpractice system. What about the medical practitioners who negligently injure the nine out of 10 patients who go uncompensated?

I advocate junking the entire malpractice system and going to a no-fault medical injury plan comparable to workers' compensation. Until this kind of radical change occurs, the current system without caps assures that at least some negligently injured patients receive compensation.



Abortion is not a casual choice

Why does The Register-Guard print letters from extremists such as Ethan Nelson (letters, Nov. 8)? In railing against the 38.4 million "human life terminations," people like him are total hypocrites.

These same right-to-life people don't want sex education or gov- ernment-assisted health care for poor women and their families. They don't want taxpayer dollars to subsidize contraception expense, but neither do they believe in any public assistance for the families of the babies that result. No, as far as they are concerned, a fetus is sacred until it's born - and then, "hasta la vista, baby."

If Nelson and his kind really cared about life, they would care about the quality of life for people already here. They would care about the family with two children already, two minimum wage jobs and failed contraception. A third unwanted child would mean no summer camp for the kids, overcrowded housing, no ballet or piano lessons and less quality time with the parents. They would care about the poor family with an alcoholic father where another unwanted baby was sure to be physically abused and neglected and cause increased abuse of the other children.

No one rejoices at the prospect of an abortion. This is not a choice like strawberry vs. vanilla ice cream. Terminating a pregnancy is a desperate necessity.

A woman's right to control what happens to something within her own body is a right to privacy that must not be invaded by the state, the church or even the woman's partner.



No reason to fear Measure 37

It would appear, as I interpret discussions and views of Eugene Mayor Jim Torrey and city councilors in work and public sessions, that they have never reviewed the language contained in the original Oregon land use plan. Said plan specifically addressed value lost by downzoning, development restrictions or denial of any use so permitted prior to its implementation.

Future legislative sessions were to improvise and pass a plan to compensate property owners for said lost value. They guardedly recognized a possible violation of the Fourth and Fifth amendments of our Constitution. Future sessions failed to act. Many owners sold their land at depressed prices.

In the year 2000, Measure 7 was introduced to correct the injustice. Voters called for enactment. Challenged by cities and counties in court, judges voided its intent.

On Nov. 2, a strong majority passed Measure 37. Terms give an either-or choice to the offending jurisdiction. Specifically, allow property owners to use their land in a manner equal to their surrounding neighbors or compensate them for value loss.

Certainly that's reasonable. What motivates people's fears?



Pedestrians should stay off road

In her Nov. 17 letter, "Drivers just need to slow down," Peggy Neal enlightened the driving population of Eugene on how cars operate. "They do all the work for you. It's easy!" No kidding?

When she's out walking, bicycling or running, she finds most of Eugene's sidewalks not negotiable or impossible to maneuver. Her solution is for traffic to accommodate this situation by slowing down, lest some poor pedestrian has to dart out into the road to avoid a bad section of sidewalk. She says, "We're not trying to be hit."

I think I can safely speak for most drivers in saying that we're not out there trying to hit anyone, either.

There are three main rules of the road that seem to have worked quite well over the years: Foot traffic has the right of way on the sidewalks. Bicycles have the right of way on the bike paths. Automobiles have the right of way on the road.

The answer is for the pedestrian to simply stay off the road. Eugene already ranks high on a national level of places that specifically accommodate and cater to bicycling, running, walking and other like activities. You see, the beautiful thing about these rules is, they work. People might even find they feel good about themselves by obeying them. Try it today.

I can think of any number of places and areas in Eugene that a person can walk, run or bicycle without any problems. Try the Spring Boulevard area.



Arafat didn't foil peace process

Responsibility for the collapse of the Middle East peace process does not rest solely with Yasser Arafat, despite the claims of the Nov. 11 editorial, "A farewell to arms?"

Although Arafat made significant concessions over his career, he never received any credit for doing so. It is untrue that he refused "to compromise on Palestinian demands for control of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian exiles" at Camp David. Indeed, he repeatedly compromised on both.

He had already recognized Israeli claims to west Jerusalem, which it had seized in 1948. He was willing to recognize the neighborhoods Israel had settled in east Jerusalem after 1967, and he was ready to accept a Jerusalem suburb, the village of Abu Dis, as the Palestinian capital.

He was willing to limit the right of return to a token number of refugees, and he was willing to accept an incoherent portion of the remaining 22 percent of historic Palestine as a Palestinian state.

In this conflict so utterly characterized by inequality, Arafat receives a disproportionate share of the blame for the current dire situation. If Arafat had spent a portion of the money that his opponents have spent on public relations and media consultants, both he and the Palestinian cause would have been better served.



Opposition to park plan grows

I live on Dorchester Lane, across the street from Class 1 agricultural farmland, which is an invaluable and irreplaceable resource.

The Eugene Parks and Open Spaces Department has been working on a proposal to convert this low-density housing area of 197 acres into 100 acres of apartments, housing and commercial uses and a 77-acre park. The department has claimed that only several residents oppose this plan.

This is not true.

Our community organization, Santa Clara Committee for Sensible Parks and Open Spaces, has more than 1,000 signatures on our petition opposing this development, and the number grows every day. This is a "stick and carrot" plan. The carrot is that the area needs a 77-acre park. Wrong! There are at least five parks in the vicinity - and worst of all, there are no funds to develop or maintain this park.

The city calls it a land swap, but the truth is that it is a sly method to expand the urban growth boundary.

Our committee has developed seven points that are the basis of our opposition to the development. They are: The need for farmland preservation; the inappropriate size and location of the park; serious traffic congestion; the lack of secured funding for park development; school overcrowding; loss of wetlands and wildlife and annexation problems for the River Road residents.



Where did they go in Fallujah?

We dropped pamphlets on Fallujah urging civilians to leave before we destroyed their city. Where did they go? How did they get there?

I picture my gentle mother and father, both 90, beloved in their church and community, carefully packing what will fit in their sensible car. There are elderly parents like mine in Fallujah. Where would they go? How long could they survive?

I see my son-in-law and daughter, a new mother, baby at her breast as she frantically gathers as much as they can carry on foot - to go where? They own no transportation. How many beloved daughters and granddaughters like mine live in Fallujah?

I think of my sweet disabled son. He died at 12 with the best of care. Were he still alive, how would I pack his wheelchair and all he would need? Surely there are special needs children in Fallujah.

I cry for women like many I know who carry a life, some planned, some not, cradling their bellies as destruction rains down upon them in Fallujah. Will our bombs abort these babies before their mothers know them?

I pray for the thousands of young men my eldest son's age who fight this senseless war. When injured or captured, who will help them in Fallujah?

And if they should find their way back to American soil after ending the lives of countless mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters like their own, how will they live with what they have done? Who will help them here?


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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Nov 26, 2004
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