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July 02, 1997 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1997-07-02

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, July 2 1997
Edited and managed by ERIN MARSH JACK SCHILLACI
students at the yoMcgn7Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan21 ItI Itt '~ I' ,,ioi,'ti' odiiiiiddio'ti 'itii piio
L ntess otherwise not, re<. uneed editorials if et the Opinion, a to
420 Maynard Street ti7ajoritiy 0 ntaiii tiiiuoiiitf aoard Alt Oth rtr tit s, letererr
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 corrols> ono nes'sarii '('fle' i/te opinion,( o The Michuigan, uli

H ome to medical students, patients and
doctors, the University Medical
Center is the hub for medical care in
Washtenaw County. Like many medical
institutions, the center is in the process of
significant budget cutbacks to make itself
more attractive to managed care compa-
nies. Part of the cutbacks come by way of
staff wage reductions. In negotiating a
contract with the Association of Federal,
State, County and Municipal Employees
Local 1583 - representing 2,400
University employees - the University
offered union members an unbalanced
contract that cuts compensation to hospital
workers but maintains it for the rest of the
University's workforce. The University
should slow the rate at which it reduces the
center's budget and offer employees a fair
compensation package.
Medical Center administrators plan to
cut $200 million from the institution's $1
billion annual budget in three years - a
lofty goal at best. Only 1,000 of
AFSCME's members are hospital employ-

B argaining dp
U' contract offer is unfair to employees

ees - the rest work on other parts of cam-
pus. The contract offered by the
University would not grant hospital work-
ers a raise in its first year and would end
seniority bonuses for them. In contrast,
workers on other parts of campus under
the contract would keep both perks. The
dual nature of the contract could create a
divide among AFSCME's members.
Unions play an important role in support-
ing the University's employees - the
administration should not attempt to cre-
ate dissent among the ranks. The
University's underhanded dealing with the
union shows that administrators have put
the importance of budget reductions
before their employees - AFSCME was
correct in refusing the contract and should
insist that the University remove the con-

tractual inequity.
As the largest medical facility in the
area, the University Medical Center must
commit itself to providing the best medical
care possible. Its' role as an educational
institution is also vital to support the
University's quality. However, the center's
downsizing efforts threaten to reduce its
ability to maintain quality. The administra-
tion's plan leaves the Ann Arbor communi-
ty a mere three years to realign its health-
care system dependencies --- such a short
period of time could result in patients not
receiving the health care that they need if
replacement services are not available at
other medical institutions. The rapid
change in the number of the center's ser-
vices poses a serious risk to the communi-
ty -- slowing the budget reduction would

allow the community time to catch up.
The hospital administrators' downsi:
ing plan is already behind schedul
Acting Medical Center chief Larry Warre
recently announced that $19 million
cuts planned for this year are alreado
hold. Due to AFSCME's rejection of tI
University's contract, additional fun(
may not be removed from the budget. TI
University should take the hint ar
rearrange the downsizing schedule to I
more realistic.
The University's action threatens
alienate Medical Center staff. Employe
deserve fair treatment in contractu
agreements. The University's offer t
AFSCME's members is ridiculous
expects hospital employees to accept
smaller compensation package simp
because they work for section of tI
University that needs to trim financial fa
The center should re-evaluate the cons
quences of its rush to drop money from tI
budget and ensure that the community
ready for the change.

Open highway
CDA violated First Amendment
M ore than a year ago, the U.S. Playboy or looking on the Internet for
Congress passed the pornography. However, many Internet web
Telecommunications Act of 1996, rewrit- sites require a credit card or additional
ing many of the nation's communication identification before allowing users entry
laws. Tacked to this bill was a section to their systems. In contrast, there is no
called the Communications Decency safeguard on late-night cable television,
Act, which placed bans on pornography and there will always be the friend who
transmitted over the Internet and set smeaks away a Penthouse magazine, yet
penalties for those convicted of distribut- most Internet sites work to block access by
ing "indecent" sexual material to minors. minors.
Thursday, in a largely applauded unani- Concerned parents have many options
mous decision in the case Reno v. the available to them to block their children
American Civil Liberties Union, the from pornography's exposure. Many com-
Supreme Court declared the act uncon- puter programs, such as Net Nanny, are
stitutional, allowing proponents of free available that can restrict access to porno-
speech to breathe - and surf the Internet graphic computer sites. Such programs
- freely.can be directed to block access to certain
Supporters of the Communications sites or prevent children from accessing
Decency Act argue that the Internet's the web at all. In addition, many online
content is not "speech" and therefore services offer built-in restrictions that
does not fall under the First Amendment's allow parents to block what their child can
guise. Yet when it was written that do while the computer is running. There
"Congress shall make 'no law abridging are ample technological mechanisms
the freedom of speech," founders certain- available to help parents keep pornogra-
ly did not comprehend such communica- phy out of the hands of children - cen-
tion mediums as the Internet. The soring all "indecent" electronic traffic is
Constitution is meant to be a flexible doc- excessive and violates adults' right to
ument - the Supreme Court made the communicate.
right decision by deeming the act uncon- The Internet has become a remarkable
stitutional. medium for the transfer of thoughts, the.
Other proponents of the act deemed it presentation of images and the prolifera-
necessary to protect children from viewing tion of educational resources. Online, peo-
pornography on the Internet. Considering ple have the freedom to express them-
that there are thousands of pornographic selves in a way society does not always
World Wide Web sites, this is a legitimate allow. The shy, disabled, elderly and peo-
concern. While shielding children from ple of every color and creed can have a
pornography is a good goal, the act's voice on the Internet. If "indecent" sites
pathos restricted adults' ability to commu- were to be censored, it would pose a threat
nicate. Impeding everyone's rights is no to the freedom of all Internet users. The
way to solve a problem. Supreme Court should be applauded for
Children act out curiosity about sex in its wise decision proving that censorship is
many ways' - whether it is reading' 'truly un-American.

The doctor is out
State must not enact assisted suicide ban

T homas Jefferson said certain truths
were self-evident - namely, that all
people were created equal and have certain
inalienable rights: "Life, Liberty, and the
pursuit of Happiness." But what should be
done when these rights conflict with one
another? In the matter of assisted suicide,
the traditional ideas about preservation of
life conflict directly with the pursuit of
happiness, or rather, with ending an indi-
vidual's suffering. Last week, the U.S.
Supreme Court upheld bans in
Washington and New York states that pro-
hibited doctor-assisted suicide. It is an
inherent right for people to be able to gov-
ern the conditions of their lives - and
their deaths. Bans on assisted suicide
restrict that right - the court's decision
violates terminally-ill patients' rights to
end their lives in a humane manner.
The majority opinion in the case of
Washington v. Glucksberg, penned by
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, said the
issue at hand was "whether the protec-
tions of the due process clause include a
right to commit suicide with another's
assistance." Rehnquist rephrased the
assertion made by the plaintiffs in the
case with the Washington statute -
which prohibits "aiding another person to
attempt suicide" - in mind. Rehnquist
and the rest of the court addressed the
existence of a constitutional right to com-
mit suicide, "which itself includes a right
to assistance in doing so," as it applies to
everyone, not just to those mentally com-
petent and terminally ill. Terminally -ill
patients should have the right to relieve
themselves from suffering if they are in
possession of their faculties and can make
a thoroughly investigated decision. In
addition, they should have access to a

medically sound and safe method
doing so - Rehnquist's opinion is i
error, as it could cause patients to suff
excessively.
The court's decision stipulated th
states may enact bans on assisted sui '
Many states already have such a ba i
place that will now block their resident
rights. However, Michigan does not y
have a ban in place - though some inte
pret that the murder statute implies assis
ed suicide's illegality. The state legisla
ture should not make a knee-jerk reactio
to the court's decision by immediatel
imposing a ban. Instead, it should care
fully analyze the situation and ma
well thought-out decision -ens
that citizens' right to seek a doctor'
assistance in the decision to take their lif
is preserved.
The court found "legitimate govern
ment interests" to the ban in Washington
The preservation of life and the protection
from exploitation and abuse of more vul
nerable groups in society are important
How and why an individual should valu<
life should not be judged - instead ths
decision remain with the patient, n h
government.
The court's decision will have far
reaching effects. An all-out ban on assist
ed suicide in Michigan would violate resi
dents' rights. Popular opinion polls indi
cate that 57 percent of the population feel
that assisted suicide should be legal -
possibly making any bans' implementatior
difficult. If the prohibition of alcohol ir
the 1920s showed anything, it was a
unpopular laws can be difficult to up ld
The state should not implement a ban or
assisted suicide and allow individuals t
maintain control of their lives.

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