One Choice, Many Viewpoints

As I read "One Woman's Choice" [Nov. 15], I found myself overwhelmed with sadness for her, her situation and, most of all, for her aborted baby.

Having a brother with Cerebral Palsy and a cousin with Down Syndrome, I can attest to the hardship that comes when a child is born with a disability. My parents and my aunt and uncle, however, looked beyond the disabilities and accepted these children for who they were -- human beings with as much right to live as the rest of us.

My brother is now married and studying to be an occupational therapist and my cousin is a sweet little girl, succeeding in school and in life. Do they face hardships sometimes because of their differences? You bet! But they were given the chance to live and show the world what a gift they could be!

I can't imagine what a difficult decision it must be for Ms. Eftimiades and other women to choose to abort their children. It is evident from her article that she will grieve forever for this little soul. But what about this person that will never be?

She ends her article stating that she is "quite certain that I made the right choice for the three of us." That might be true for her and for her boyfriend. I am not so sure, however, that that is the case for her son, since he was never given a choice.

Nancy Whearty

Fairfax

I have tremendous respect and compassion for Maria Eftimiades. She demonstrated incredible bravery in writing about her decision.

I have never had to face the life-altering decisions she made. I am fortunate to have had two healthy pregnancies. As a speech pathologist, I have also had the privilege of working with many very special people who have Down syndrome. There are never easy, one-size-fits-all answers to difficult questions.

I feel proud to live in a country in which we have the right to speak freely, as Ms. Eftimiades did, and make often-difficult medical decisions about our bodies for ourselves. I offer my sincerest sympathy and thanks to Ms. Eftimiades for her willingness to share her story.

Nicole Kane Gurland

Bethesda

Putting aside the moral aspects of the subject for a moment, I commend you for your willingness to publicly describe an intensely personal issue and choice. However, regarding the last sentence of your article, I want to clarify that you meant that you felt it was the "right" choice to abort based on your and your partner's sense of an incapacity to raise a child with a disability rather than that it was the "right" choice to terminate a fetus solely because of his disability.

For more information about how people with disabilities regard the values that society place on their lives, please see the National Council on Disability's views on assisted suicide at http://www.ncd.gov.

Jeff Rosen

Rockville

Children with Down syndrome are no longer institutionalized at birth. Many are Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts; many play on teams for soccer, basketball and swimming; many sing in chorus, play musical instruments and take dance classes.

Children with Down syndrome grow up to be adults with Down syndrome who may go on to pursue higher education and marry. If they sound much like other children, it's because they are. Increasingly, people with Down syndrome are educated with their peers, become a part of the workforce and actively participate in community life.

Doctors have a responsibility to provide expecting parents with current information regarding Down syndrome before offering prenatal testing. This information needs to go beyond the one-page pamphlet of birth rate statistics that is the current standard.

Doctors and expecting parents can contact the National Down Syndrome Congress (www.ndsccenter.org) or the National Down Syndrome Society (www.ndss.org) to obtain comprehensive, up-to-date information about Down syndrome. Additionally, there are more than 100 local organizations like the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia (www.dsanv.org) across the country that offer information and support.

Andrew Fay

President

Down Syndrome Association

of Northern Virginia

Falls Church

I have been involved in the pro-life movement for over 10 years and have been in numerous pro- life protests in front of abortion clinics and else where. In only one instance did I see anyone yelling anything to an abortion clinic client, and never anything near the crudeness of "baby killer," which Ms. Eftimiades thinks typically occurs. The idea of a bunch of crazy fanatics screaming at helpless women in crisis may look good in a movie or mini-series, but it is simply a myth.

I was also saddened by Ms. Eftimiades's mother's attitude toward people of faith, saying "people are funny" when describing the opinions of her daughter-in-law, a Catholic. But the truth is that people of faith aren't "funny" about abortion -- they are "real." Instead of couching the abortion in terms like "choice" or "procedure," they see it for what it really is, the killing of a child in the womb.

Dennis Di Mauro

President,

Northern Virginia chapter

Lutherans for Life

Herndon

You mention in your article that "pro-lifers don't give you the right to grieve," when actually they welcome you with loving, open arms and help you embrace your grief. Please visit http://www.hopeafterabortion.com and please run an article about this beautiful program that helps woman grieve and heal.

Jeanette Engel

Ashburn

More Details About Medicare

Thank you for your helpful article on Medicare's new drug plan ["Press 'D' for Details," Nov. 15]. My 86-year-old father took one look at the "Medicare and You 2006" booklet that he received in the mail last month and decided that he could not figure out what plan would be beneficial to him, so he turned the job over to me.

I started reading through the booklet and decided I will need a quiet Sunday afternoon to read and digest the information provided. Sometimes having too many choices can be a bad thing.

Kevie Niland

Bethesda

I use about $6,000 worth of prescription drugs per year. My calculation is that the sooner I reach $3,600 out-of-pocket, regardless of which plan, the better; then I get a 95 percent ride on the rest and the sky's the limit -- I needn't pay attention to my out-of-pocket on each drug. Thus, I will ignore generics and substitute prescription drugs for expensive over-the-counter drugs, the opposite of my previous buying behavior. That's great for the pharmaceutical companies, but is it what Congress intended? Am I missing something, other than the public good?

Bob Hausman

Washington