Letters to the Editor (April 2010)

Title Consistency

I am in full agreement with the letter to the editor by Michelle Lind in the March 2010 edition of the NASW News, advocating that social workers should have consistent title protection throughout the nation. However, I do not believe we will achieve consistent title protection until such time as we agree upon a consistent professional identification.

Ms. Lind identifies herself with the initials DHSc, LCSW, and M-RAS. The candidates for election to the NASW Board use an alphabet soup of credentials including ACSW, CADC, DCSW, EdD, LCSW, LCSW-R, LMSW, MS, MSSW, MSW, and PhD. Compare that to some of our fellow professions who have agreed on a standard professional identification and have achieved consistent title protection such as CPA, DDS, JD, MD and RN.

Until we as social workers agree on an identification recognized by the public and elected officials, consistent title protection will probably exceed our grasp.

Paul J. Wexler, MSW
Springfield, Va.


Anathema to Values

Ultimately, the “right to life” movement is about controlling women’s choices (Letters, March News). A patriarchal element in our culture tries to punish women who take charge of their own lives. This is about the belief that women (and most men) should be subjected to an authoritarian system, whereby rules are made at the top to control the behavior of the populace. This is anathema to social work values as well as democracy. Social workers believe that all human beings have a right to self-determination. This includes making decisions with which we may not always agree. If the “right-to-life” element in our profession wants to practice congruently with social work values, they would work toward a world where women wouldn’t have to choose abortion. And this could happen only when women are no longer considered second-class citizens and are afforded the right to make their own choices about their own reproduction, without interference.

As to women who have abortions being at increased risk for several conditions, for every study that supports these assertions, there are two that don’t. It is very difficult to study these issues accurately. It can however, definitively be said that many women around the world suffer long-term consequences from sexual violence in childhood and adulthood.

Jo Nol, Ph.D., LCSW
West Simsbury, Conn.


Myths Were Disproven

While I respect Julie Fitzgerald’s opposition to abortion (Letters, March News), to disseminate misinformation to support her position is harmful to our field. Ms. Fitzgerald states that abortion causes “increased risk of depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and breast cancer.” These anti-abortion myths have been repeatedly disproven. In a 1990 review, confirmed in 2008, the American Psychological Association found that “severe negative reactions [after abortion] are rare and are in line with those following other normal life stresses.”

In March 2003, after a thorough scientific review of all evidence, the National Cancer Institute found that “newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.”

As social workers, we have a right to an opinion, and a responsibility not to perpetuate misinformation.

Susan Yanow, MSW, LICSW
Cambridge, Mass.


Be Mindful of Service

It is Julie Fitzgerald’s right to express her opinion (Letters, March News). It is also her right to make personal decisions based on her Judeo-Christian beliefs.

However, the right of other women to choose is a right that has been upheld by the highest court in our land. As Ms. Fitzgerald asks social workers to consider the “deleterious” effects upon mothers, she also should consider the historical health care context that was not a small consideration in advocating for a woman’s right to choose. Prior to Roe v. Wade, the repercussions of illegal abortions in the United States had been serious health care issues. If she fears abortions will be federally funded, she needs only to refer to the Hyde Amendment that will remain in effect if health care reform passes.

This letter should prompt a reminder that as social workers we should be mindful of service and social justice, as well as a client’s right to self-determination. At times social workers are challenged to look beyond personal beliefs, to advocate for equality, to take on others’ perspectives, and do so with compassion, empathy and a non-judgmental attitude.

Tami Colwell, MSW Candidate
Clifton Park, N.Y.


Look at the Research

Julie Fitzgerald can have an opinion about abortion (Letters, March News) but should draw the line at promoting myths. Our profession is based on empiricism and her statement about abortion leading to breast cancer has been disproven. The research on depression is murky, some studies saying teen abortions do not correlate to depression, but is with women in their 20s, etc. Let’s look at scholarship and research, not Fox News and lobbyist Web sites!

Jewish tradition holds that life begins at the first breath. We can accept this or reject it, but that tradition precludes consideration of abortion as killing.

Let’s inform ourselves before pontificating — and NASW, shame on you for printing misinformation.

Pamela Wiener, Ph.D.
West Palm Beach, Fla.