Opinion April 2014

Posted: March 31st, 2014 | Opinion, Opinion & News | 1 Comment

cbr032314dAPR webOpinion: We make music worth saving

The San Diego Opera will close following the last performance on April 13, 2014. The closure of this venerable institution after 49 years was decided by a vote of the board members, 33 to 1.

According to the General Director, Ian Campbell, the closure was necessary to keep the company from going into possible bankruptcy next season. I implore you to look into this.

It is our understanding that the company has no debt. If that is the case, the company could have at least tried to rework their financials. There are alternatives: renegotiate contracts with employees, do fewer productions, cut back expenses, seek new leadership, etc. None of these ideas were even considered with respect to any of the employees that have worked so many years with the San Diego Opera.

Only one round of voting decided to shut this marvelous company down. There are upwards of 400 people being affected by this decision, which include a combination of full time staff, scenic studios staff, chorus, principal and supporting artists, directors, conductors, designers, productions staff, stagehands, wardrobe, wig and makeup, San Diego Symphony players and others.

This doesn’t even include the local businesses, the Civic Theater and its employees, vendors such as music stores, voice teachers, etc.

In addition, San Diego Opera offers educational outreach to thousands of students in our schools, both through attending operas, and through having musicians visit their school. San Diego would also be losing one of the top 10 opera companies in the country, a company we are all so proud of.

It is our fear that if the receivership is allowed to continue at this extremely fast pace, the assets of the company will be lost with no hope of rebuilding. The loss of this institution to San Diego is incalculable, not only to its patrons and its employees, but to the greater community of San Diego.

We ask that this situation be brought to the attention of the City Council and hope that you will join us in trying to keep this company moving forward.

We are also asking that you go to and join us by signing our petition to SAVE SAN DIEGO OPERA.

—A group of concerned patrons

Opinion: Taking on “Hobby Lobby”

By Kelly Culwell

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a pair of cases that challenge the birth control benefit — Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. In each of these cases, employers at for-profit corporations want to deny their employees legally mandated insurance coverage for birth control, based on the bosses’ personal religious beliefs.

At Planned Parenthood, we see firsthand every day why these case matters so much. Planned Parenthood health care providers across the country see the benefits of affordable birth control every day. We also hear from women who are forced to choose between groceries or filling their prescription — between paying the rent, or choosing the form of birth control that’s right for them. Birth control is only a “social issue” if you’ve never had to pay for it.

Here are the facts. Ninety-nine percent of American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some point in their lives — and providing access to it is commonsense and mainstream health care. Birth control is tremendously important to women for all kinds of reasons, including to control certain medical conditions including endometriosis and to plan our families. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly 60 percent of birth control pill users cite health benefits a contributing factor for using the birth control pill.

We also know that birth control can be expensive — with some of the most effective methods costing upwards of $1,000. But when women have access to the full range of contraception methods — without cost barriers — we can actually reduce unintended pregnancy rates and the need for abortion. We also know that access to affordable birth control is just smart for everyone. For every dollar spent on family planning, taxpayers save nearly $6 in public money.

That’s why, after decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies and at the recommendation of leading medical groups, the Affordable Care Act requires all insurance policies to cover the full range of FDA approved birth control methods with no out-of-pocket cost to women — because it’s part of preventive care.

Yet we still face an ongoing fight over birth control in this country. There are people — politicians, special interest groups, and now bosses — who want to take away access to affordable birth control. Based on nothing more than their personal beliefs, employers at for-profit corporations have gone all the way to the Supreme Court to try to stop their employees from getting access to this important care they need.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the corporations, it could jeopardize the birth control coverage that millions of women rely on. It could give bosses a free pass to discriminate and create a slippery slope in which employers, based solely on their personal religious beliefs, could deny coverage of any medical treatment or procedure to their employees that they disagree with — including mental health services, vaccines, surgery, blood transfusions, and more.

That’s why we’ve seen so many people, including doctors and medical groups speak out against these efforts and why Planned Parenthood, no matter what the court decides, will continue to stand alongside women and their families to ensure they get the health care they need — without interference from their bosses.

—Kelly Culwell, M.D., M.P.H. is the Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.


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