Ethics: The Lesser of Two Evils

New York tries to curb AIDS by supplying addicts with needles

"As a public health official, I don't have the luxury to be a moralist." So said an unapologetic New York State health commissioner David Axelrod last week after approving a New York City plan to fight AIDS by providing drug addicts with sterile needles. The controversial program, which could begin as early as this spring, has sparked vehement protests from law-enforcement agents, clergymen and politicians. Says the Rev. Calvin Butts of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem: "To distribute needles is to cooperate with evil. It is a step to legitimatizing heroin use."

Few disagree that drug abuse is a deadly...

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