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Remembering President Reagan; rights of disabled parents; GOP efforts to cut the budget

January 30, 2011

Not fan mail

Re "Ronald Reagan, the anti-Reaganite," Opinion, Jan. 23

Jacob Heilbrunn claims that if Ronald Reagan had listened to the right wing, the Soviet Union would not have collapsed and the Cold War would have continued. This is sheer speculation and buys into the notion that the Soviet Union fell apart due to Reagan's policies.

It seems more likely that Mikhail Gorbachev and his policy of openness led to the dissolution of a regime dependent on being shut out from Western influences. Probably the Beatles had more to do with the Soviet Union's fall than Reagan did.

The Cold War could not have lasted forever, but those who want to canonize Reagan will persist in crediting him with great achievements.

Dave Silva

Seal Beach

So there were 65,000 flowers on the Rose Parade float commemorating the Reagan presidency? Not nearly enough. The float should have included one rose for every American lost to AIDS — an epidemic that could have been halved by timely and effective presidential leadership — and one forget-me-not for everyone who had to battle both HIV and ignorance furthered by the Great Communicator's deafening silence.

Reagan's negligence marked the first time in American history that reaction to a public health crisis was guided not by the number of people at risk but by the kinds of people at risk. Let it be the last.

The AIDS epidemic itself was not Reagan's fault, but his approach remains a tragedy that plagues us still.

Craig R. Miller

Santa Monica

The writer is founder of the AIDS Walk movement.

A disabled mother's life

Re "A precious, secret meeting," Jan. 24

As a mother to a disabled teenager, I am outraged that Abbie Dorn cannot see her children because of a disability. It seems clear that she knows the difference between "happy" and "sad."

Attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer is correct in saying that this case may set the standard for all disabled mothers.

My daughter is a quadriplegic on a ventilator because of a car accident almost nine years ago. After reading this article, I feared that something similar could have happened to her. What if some man procreated with her and took her child away?

Dorn's husband did not step up to honor and

cherish his wife after a doctor made a mistake. He divorced her and left her to her parents. This woman gave her life for these children, and their father is creating more harm in keeping the children from their mother.

June Hendriks

Costa Mesa

Dorn's children have a gift in their grandparents. Their legal battle to make certain that the three grandchildren know their own mother is courageous and clearly heartfelt. Though Dorn cannot hug them or whisper their names, she is alive and breathing and, most important, their mother.

I was 6 years old when my 42-year-old father died of a massive coronary. Pictures were taken down, we moved, and there was no further talk of my father for fear of the sadness such talk might bring up. Today, 57 years later, I still wonder about him and miss a man I barely knew.

Dorn, sadly, lives through her parents. It is their words and memories that can help children Esti, Reuvi and Yossi get to know who their mother is.

Marley Sims

Valley Village

Many sides on malpractice

Re "Grief intensified by a legal fight," Jan. 23

The most interesting part of the Cull family's tragic story is that UCLA actually compensated them $250,000, the maximum amount allowed under California law. That is rare. More often, the medical malpractice insurance company offers substantially less, daring the plaintiff's attorney to take the case to trial. The insurance companies know that forcing such a case to trial will be extraordinarily costly for the attorney representing the family.

Thirty-two years ago, when I started my legal career handling cases of medical negligence, the cost of litigating such cases was $2,500 to $5,000. Today, it costs $25,000 to $75,000 to pay the expert witnesses, court reporters and other costs.

That's more risk than most attorneys can afford to take to help a family like the Culls, much as we might like to.

Linda Rice

Woodland Hills

My adult daughter also died unexpectedly two years ago while hospitalized. Malpractice suits are not the only approach to unexpected deaths.

There are regulatory approaches. A hospital is required to report an unexpected death to both the California Department of Public Health Licensing and Certification Program and to the Joint Commission (if it is accredited). The hospital is required to do an evaluation and report on it and on any preventive measures.

The Public Health Licensing and Certification Program will do an inspection in response to a complaint. The Medical Board of California will do an investigation of a complaint against a physician and report its findings.

The regulatory measures can help prevent a repeat of a tragedy.

Ellen Alkon, MD

Rolling Hills Estates

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