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Reader feedback 2.5.03


The 'Roe' story

This year we mark the 30th anniversary of Roe v Wade. In your January 15 issue, you describe the "Jane Roe" of the case as "a pregnant, single woman." There's more to the story.

                  "Roe" is actually Norma McCorvey, who is now an outspoken opponent of abortion. In 1969, though, unmarried, poor, and desperate after finding herself pregnant again, she tried to get an abortion. She went to attorney Sarah Weddington, who she heard knew where to get one. McCorvey now admits that she lied about having been raped in order to increase her chances of getting an abortion. But she says that Weddington --- who herself had had an abortion --- also lied to her about not knowing where to get one.

                  In her 1997 book, "Won by Love," McCorvey says that though Weddington "had passed herself off as my friend, in reality she used me." McCorvey explains in the book that Weddington "needed a pregnant woman who would sign the affidavit. If she told me how and where to get an abortion, she wouldn't have had a plaintiff." And, McCorvey says, Weddington knew about the rape lie even as she argued the case before the Supreme Court in 1972.0

                  Thus the Roe decision grew out of lies and the exploitation of a troubled young woman. That does not reflect well on a movement that claims to champion the rights of women.

                  Lee Strong, Downsview Drive, Rochester

I was disturbed by several points in Chris Busby's "Chipping Away at Roe" (January 22):

                  First, he refers to pro-life people throughout the article as "anti-choice" and to pro-choice people as "defenders of a woman's right to choose." This language is unbalanced. Could he refer to "pro-lifers" as "abortion opponents" or at least as "opponents of a woman's right to choose"?

                  Second, in his discussion of abortion legislation, he didn't bother to refer to the voting record of Congressman John LaFalce, a pro-life Democrat. LaFalce had a Spencerport office and represented more Rochesterians than Congressman Amo Houghton, a pro-choice Republican, during the last congressional year, yet Busby refers to Houghton's voting record. (By the way, several other key and very liberal Democrats --- like Senators James Byrd and Daniel P. Moynihan --- have opposed "partial birth abortion.")

                  Third, Mr. Busby quotes numerous times from the National Organization for Women fact sheets and a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman but he not once gets an opinion from a pro-life source.

                  Thank you for confronting the abortion issue in City. Our hope is that next time you will be more unbiased in your journalistic approach to this highly sensitive life issue.

                  Jessica C. Shanahan, Allens Creek Road, Rochester (Shanahan is president of Feminists for Life of New York.)

I used to think "If you don't believe in abortion, don't have one" was a good slogan. A better one might be: " No one should be forced to have a baby. No one."

                  Philip Ferrara, Rochester

Regarding "Choice Under Siege" (January 22): I have seen and heard demonstrations and fanaticism on both sides of the abortion issue. I am a firm believer in reincarnation, which has been a part of Hindu and Buddhist traditions for thousands of years and was also taught in the early Christian church.

                  The only way your soul can get back "home" is to balance your karmic accounts. You need to pay your debts to everyone you have wronged in all lifetimes. And to do that, you need to be alive at the right time and in the right place so you can meet the people you have karma with. You can pay your debts only if you have a physical body. When a pregnancy is terminated, the soul is denied the opportunity to get back to earth at the right time and in the right place.

                  The law of karma is impersonal. If we deny a soul the opportunity for life, we may one day find ourselves in the same position: waiting on the other side, ready to return, only to be denied birth in a physical body.

                  Barbara Mennie, Rochester

Yuppy saviors

I have nothing against bars and nightclubs, but I fail to see how a collection of yuppies drinking and rubbing elbows will do anything positive for anyone (except the socially accepted drug dealers that are the bar owners).

                  I am disappointed that you failed to recognize the ails of our city --- such as bad schools, deteriorating neighborhoods, and violent crime --- as facets of the psychological and economic war on the Rochester black man.

                  Had it been 70 black twenty-somethings walking together down East Avenue, how long would it take the police to shake them down and break them up, probably in response to some panicked business owner programmed by the media and social archetypes to see the black man as a criminal or a drug dealer?

                  I guess it would be kind of silly to address drugs as a tool of oppression when RATS (Rochester Area 20-Somethings) are going to save the city one beer at a time.

                  With this in mind, I would like to know who on your staff was responsible for the highly offensive play on words, "Spike Lee Rolls Another Joint" on your cover. Not only did you perpetuate the stereotype of a drug-using, criminal black man, you disgraced someone who is not content to just get drunk to decompress from his nine to five.

                  You disgraced someone who is not afraid to go against the grain and confront institutionalized racism. And you didn't even include one word about his movie in the whole issue!

                  C. Morey, Grosvenor Road, Rochester

                  Editor's note: The Spike Lee cover teaser was, of course, an error. We had a review ready for publication; when at the last minute, the distributor postponed the film's opening, we yanked the review --- but failed to change our cover line.

Seeking Jennifer

This is how I read City: I search for an article written by Jennifer Loviglio. If I find her, I'll sit down and read; if I don't, it gets tossed for later. It's been that way for some time now.

                  Perhaps it's because it is refreshing to hear a woman's voice and experience amidst all the male banter that otherwise fills the pages. And certainly, it's because her writing is intelligent, daring, interesting, and humorous.

                  I doubt I'm alone. I would love to read her more and more.

                  Carmen Signorino, Rochester

Greens and schools

I am quite proud of being a graduate of a Rochester city school, but recent School Board events make me quite concerned about my hometown district.

                  City recently quoted School Board Vice President Rob Brown as saying that the district hasn't had "an inventive way to deal with" the lack of success in urban districts "in years" ("The Great Divide," January 8). I think that sums up the problem. That is why I am running for School Board as a member of the Green Party.

                  As a member of the board, I will propose that we attack the root causes of our district's problems. The board must call on the entire community, particularly the alumni of the City School District, to pitch in to help our poorest children achieve. We have an active labor community in Rochester that should be utilized in the education of our students as well.

                  The board must also use every means possible to get out from under the tyranny of the state and federal governments. This includes lobbying, resolutions, and legal action. We must get politicians and bureaucrats out of the classroom to give teachers a chance to teach. The board must also work to dispel the illusion that high test scores mean real learning.

                  Most realize that overwhelming poverty is academically paralyzing a majority of our students. City Hall is supposed to take care of that. The School Board can help by being leaders in getting rid of lead paint in homes, educating parents about child development, increasing conflict-resolution programs in schools, and dividing all high schools and (soon to be) junior highs into small academies. Many of these academies should be developed with School Without Walls as the model.

                  We can do all of this and more, not by adding layers of bureaucracy but by eliminating inefficient methods of administration and replacing outdated methods of operating in and out of the classroom.

                  Don't worry, Mr. Brown; help is on the way. If you and the rest of the board cannot wait until November, please feel free to go to and take whatever ideas you would like from my platform. You can even take credit for it. After all, it's our children that count, right?

                  People who want more information may visit the web site or call 732-9067.

                  David Atias, Park Avenue, Rochester

Buddhist views

I am writing in regard to the letter of Frank Howard's (The Mail, January 8), which was itself a response to City's "Thou Shalt Not Kill" (December 24).

                  Being a practitioner, I found Mr. Howard's reference incomplete and therefore as inaccurate a representation of Buddhist thinking as he suggests Bodhin Kjolhede's to be.

                  To say that His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche calls President Bush a Bodhisattva without clarifying the teachings that precede such thinking is reckless. And to exclude the Dalai Lama's plea to President Bush not to engage in violent means is irresponsible.

                  If City wishes to portray Buddhist views on war and politics, perhaps it would benefit the editors and readers to find sources that reflect Buddhist teachings directly and not interpretations of the teachings.

                  Gretchen Targee, Merriman Street, Rochester

In response to Frank Howard's letter (The Mail, January 8): When has there been, at any time in the history of Buddhism, an acknowledged Bodhisattva --- that is, a highly spiritually evolved being characterized by tremendous compassion --- who knowingly caused the suffering of thousands, as our president and his policies have done?

                  The words of the "please allow me to stay in your wonderful country" Rinpoche aside, Mr. Howard's insipid form of spirituality does nothing but play to the stereotype of Eastern religion as leisure-class obfuscation and escapism and effectively marginalizes itself further.

                  JD Downs, Holley Street, Brockport

Utica Joe

In your January 15 issue, you called guitarist Joe Bonamassa a Syracuse native ("Short Takes"). Joe is from New York Mills, which is closer to Utica than to Syracuse, and not far from my hometown of Rome. I respect Rochesterians for their hometown pride, and I know that you'll respect us Central New Yorkers for ours. Smokin' Joe Bonamassa has been a source of pride for the Utica-Rome area's music scene since he started making waves as a young prodigy. Thank you for profiling him and adding to the awareness of all our Upstate New York musical treasures.

                  Paul Blackburn, Rundel Park, Rochester

Writing to City

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester 14607.

                  Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than once every three months.

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