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Copyright 2000 The Chronicle Publishing Co.  
The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 1431 words


Is It Really Gender Bias in Health Care? Editor -- Regarding your editorial about supposed discrimination by health insurance companies ("Gender Discrimination -- When Will It Ever End?" Dec. 18): The facts support the case that women tend to use the health-care industry far more often than men, even though men pay just as much in premiums in California.

In Illinois, my home state, women pay higher premiums than do men of the same age because they use health care far more.

When I received my health insurance policy, the first 12 items listed as covered will never be used by this single male -- from prenatal care to elective abortions to delivery of babies.

The answer to the question of why health insurance companies cover Viagra and not contraceptives or elective abortion is simple: Health care is meant to facilitate the bodily functions in operating the way that nature intended. Viagra does this. Contraception and elective abortion both work against the body's natural functions. NEIL SPUN




Editor -- You call it "gender discrimination" when health plans do not cover female contraceptives but do cover Viagra. This is quite illogical. Health plans cover the prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders. Neither fertility nor pregnancy is a disease or disorder.

Viagra treats a sexual disorder of men. Health plans cover sexual disorders of women as well.

You say it "seems incredible" that women "still have to pay for their own contraception." Women, and men, have to pay for many things that they choose to buy. Men pay for condoms.

Legally requiring someone else to pay for women's purchases sounds like an approach from days when women were not permitted to own property.

Sex-based discrimination is a terrible limiting factor in our society and must be eliminated. You should not dilute its seriousness by alleging it exists where it clearly does not.


San Francisco



Editor -- Regarding Lewis Dolinsky's column item, "Just a Kid With an Empty Eye Socket" (Dec. 15), about Ala' Badran, a young Palestinian victim of Israel's military occupation: The boy's story confirms what Palestinians have said repeatedly: that Israeli occupation forces target children who are not threatening Israeli soldiers in any way.

It also exposes the real danger of rubber-coated bullets. Ala' lost his eye and could easily have been killed, as many children have been.

Israel denies its victims adequate medical care, which is why Ala' had to come to America for treatment. Badran's story also demonstrates the Christian-Muslim solidarity among Palestinians against the illegal Israeli occupation.

Most remarkable is that this young boy refuses to live in hate, even after the violence done to him by the Israeli forces. His story is an inspiration to us all, and a reminder of the brutality of the occupation.





Editor -- Lewis Dolinsky's article was inflammatory in that the underlying assumptions are false and propagate further hatred of and aggression toward Israelis and Jews.

It is misinformation to suggest that Israelis intentionally target children, or the eye of a child. However, we do know that the Palestinians do intentionally target children, as with 37 Jewish Israeli schoolchildren who were bombed.

It is tragic what happened to the child, but it is malicious to report about it the way you have, with innuendo and omissions.


San Francisco



Editor -- President-elect Bush is quoted as saying at a Capitol Hill press conference with congressional leaders, "I believe I'm standing here because I campaigned on issues that people heard" ("Bush Pledges to Press On With Tax Cut," Dec. 19).

Is this man delusional? He was "standing here" because of a failed vote count in Florida, an antiquated electoral system and a bad call by the Supreme Court -- and that's the positive spin on how he got there.

If this presidency had been determined by what people "heard" in the election, we would be hearing from Al Gore, and Bush would be at home on the ranch.


San Francisco



Editor -- Regarding your series, "The Colombia Quagmire" (Dec. 17-20): Do you think there is any hope that the new administration will see what an ill-advised mess this is?

Our priorities should be on cutting demand for illegal drugs here at home, not on trying to limit supply from abroad.


Santa Cruz



Editor -- Although Dick Cheney, as vice president, could break a tie in the U.S. Senate, he will not be a senator. He will not be counted as a Republican senator and the Republicans will not have a majority in the upper chamber.

Therefore, current Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott has no justification acting as though he can continue as majority leader. There will be no majority party in the Senate (split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans).

It might be that Cheney, without giving any thought to the issue at hand, always will vote with the Republicans. Even if he can be counted on to vote in such a thoughtless, partisan manner, that does not turn an evenly divided Senate into a Republican-majority Senate.

The Democrats are legally and constitutionally entitled to share chairmanships and other power with absolute equality.


San Francisco



Editor -- One overriding thought came to mind after listening to George W. Bush's speech recommending Colin Powell for secretary of state. The word Bush used most often in his speech was "democracy."

Either he doesn't know what the word means (a real possibility) or he's being a complete hypocrite. That the same man who so zealously preached the gospel of democracy would be so eager to use his political connections to usurp the presidency from a good and decent man who got more votes than he speaks volumes about Bush's inner ambitions and ruthlessness.

I have a real fear that some of the freedoms I most treasure are now in danger of being compromised by our next president and his supporters. Sadly, his recent speeches have done absolutely nothing to quell my fears.


San Francisco



Editor -- We have worked for the last three years with Downtown-Civic Center residents, community groups and the Planning Department to develop workable legislation covering complex late-night permitting issues. I am pleased that the Planning Department agrees a "notification" plan alone is insufficient to protect our neighborhoods.

Our recommendation to the Board of Supervisors is neighborhood participation through "conditional use" and the notification process for late-night permits. Terrance Allan of the San Francisco Late Night Coalition says, "The first wave in any gentrification is the arts groups, the coffeehouses, the clubs." His opposition to "conditional use" control does not reflect the consensus of the community.

Why should our 50,000 residents be denied the same process for late-night permits as enjoyed by all of the other "neighborhood/commercial" districts that are also of mixed use? There have never been sufficient zoning and enforcement controls here to deal with the nuts and bolts of late-night permits.

A mere extension of hours of operation can intensify use by attracting more customers, say, between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., giving rise to potential conflict with residential use. This is why residents want to avoid conflicts by having uniform controls and rules that everyone can adhere to when a moratorium expires Dec. 31.

With affordable housing a major issue, what is needed is intelligent urban planning and concern and respect for those living downtown -- not self-serving advocacy for "gentrification" and displacement.



Save Our Streets Tenants and Merchants Association

San Francisco

LOAD-DATE: December 21, 2000

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