George Will’s May 5 column “‘Heartbeat bills’: Good for the abortion debate” overlooks the established legal answer to his question: “Why should ‘viability’ be the dispositive criterion” in defining abortion laws? He notes that “the law requires that help be given” by parents to helpless infants after birth. However, he ignores the legal limits on that required help.
Once an infant is born, a parent can’t be required to donate the use of his/her body or body parts, even if necessary for the infant to survive. The law cannot require a parent to donate even a pint of blood to save the life of a child. A pre-viable fetus requires the use of the entire body of its mother to survive.
Abortion rights do not shrink “the scope of the concept of personhood,” as Will alleges. They enhance personhood, including the right to bodily integrity, which forbids requiring the use of one person’s body against her will for the benefit of another. Unborn infants can be recognized as persons without affecting the right of mothers to determine whether or not to donate their bodies to keep those infants alive. It is the personhood of pregnant women that is truly at stake in this debate.
Jennifer Wright, Roseville
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Why not confront the one question that all anti-abortion zealots choose to ignore? Those who would legislate abortion limits on the basis of a detectable heartbeat will be reminded that the soul — not the heart, or any other organ — is the profound essence of human life (“Abortion: The question some prefer to ignore,” Readers Write, May 12). Begin the next serious discussion about fetal rights (or women’s rights) by acknowledging the primacy of the soul. And if you can, to move the abortion debate forward, share with your opponents when exactly the soul is bequeathed to the body. But if you are unable to provide this critical information about the soul, return the ancient responsibility back to each mother who must ultimately make a difficult, heart-rending decision about her unborn.
Steve Watson, Minneapolis
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No one I know celebrates abortions. Some might celebrate having control over their bodies and their lives. If women knew that there would be support for their children, in the way of affordable health care, housing, day care and education as well as adequate paid maternal leave and sick leave, perhaps fewer women would have to make the heart-wrenching decision to end a pregnancy.
Now imagine a world in which men were the ones to get pregnant. Can you even imagine?
Jill Nelson, Minneapolis
NAMES AND HISTORY
Nothing wrong with reinterpreting; it is, in fact, the way of things
D.J. Tice (“Putting history on trial can be tricky: The case for Calhoun,” May 12) suggests that progressives are guilty of a “moral superiority complex,” “vanity and self-righteousness.” In my opinion, this accusation arises from a misunderstanding of how written history is developed.
All historians (for that matter, all humans) have biases. Those biases inform the history they write. History is interpretation of facts. Consequently, as time passes, it is always being rewritten. Histories with multiple or alternative perspectives to dominant white interpretations have been produced for decades. They are a counterweight to a “glossing over” of violations of the basic American principles of liberty and equal rights. They give voice to groups, such as African-Americans and the Dakota, whose voices have rarely been heard in the past. They make our history more complete and honest.
Tice suggests that the “moral blind spots” our white ancestors had were “commonplace in their time.” Well, they probably were — among the white men who governed. We know from the facts that they were not commonplace among Native Americans and African-Americans. The dominant group’s blindness to wrongs done surely does not mean those wrongs should continue to be glossed over to avoid discomfiting that dominant group.
As for John C. Calhoun, I would argue that developing and promoting the legal and moral defense of slavery based on the innate inferiority of blacks is more despicable than the hypocrisy of recognizing its wrong but putting your economic well-being first. Neither is admirable, of course.
It is long past time that we publicly presented a more balanced history of our state and nation. Renaming Lake Calhoun and adding to the story of Fort Snelling are small steps in that direction. The very defensive conservative reaction to these steps has little merit.
Diane Ring, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired teacher of U.S. history.
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Tice’s thoughtful column makes some telling points, but it likely won’t change anything. While all the PC activism is wearisome and works to keep the general population perpetually stirred up, methinks that train has already left the station and the job at hand now is to prevent it from becoming a runaway. Thanks to Tice for tapping the brakes.
Jon Brakke, Minneapolis
AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES
A little inconvenience or a permanent problem?
The same day the Star Tribune opinion staff published Jeff Forester’s commentary “Lakes illimitable are lakes lost” (May 12), the newspaper also published two articles in the Sports section referencing the impact invasive species have on fishing. The time for debating access controls on our lakes has long passed. Like it or not, inspection and decontamination is necessary to maintain a healthy fishery and to protect Minnesota’s lake legacy.
Research clearly shows that humans are spreading aquatic invasive species — not animals. Invasive species are permanently changing the ecology of our lakes and costing homeowners, lake users, lake businesses and government agencies tens of millions of dollars each year to treat infested waters, maintain equipment and control the spread. While it maybe be inconvenient to wait for an inspection, it certainly is inconvenient and expensive to maintain a boat or shoreline on an infested lake.
The Wright County regional inspection program is a good example of what can happen when strong local leadership and concerned citizens work together. It may not be the perfect solution, but as of yet, none of its detractors has offered a viable alternative. Either we accept the negative impact invasive species have on our economy, lakes and way of life or we accept the need for inspections and decontamination.
Why would anyone who uses a lake care so little about it they are willing to cause a permanent problem to avoid a temporary inconvenience?
Eric Evenson, Carver
The writer is director of the Lake Minnetonka Association.
POLICY ORGANIZATIONS AND IDEOLOGY
Growth & Justice responds
In an otherwise sound counterpoint calling for more independence and pragmatism in state policymaking (May 13), Bill Blazar erred in describing Growth & Justice as “ideology-driven.” Growth & Justice has always sought common ground between business leaders and social-justice advocates, and our organization’s founders include former CEOs and business executives. Our emphasis on creating a more equitable economy and a more inclusive society actually pervades the mission statements of the philanthropic foundations that Blazar encourages to step up in support for policy study. We have partnered with many of those foundations and have found strong common cause with most of the individuals and organizations that Blazar names, including the Civic Caucus, the Citizens League and the Itasca Group.
Moreover, Growth & Justice agrees with Blazar’s former employer, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, on the need to invest in early childhood development, to welcome rather than resent immigrants, to develop renewable energy, to invest more in transportation infrastructure, and to upgrade our workforce by erasing racial disparities in educational attainment and skills. Among the many other business voices we respect is the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and especially the policy analysis coming from its Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute.
We also take great care to gather widespread community input and to conduct in-depth analysis, exemplified by our current Thriving by Design Network and our work on the Minnesota Equity Blueprint. Many of the policy recommendations emerging in this work originated with community-minded business owners and local economic development organizations.
David Fisher, St. Paul
The writer is chairman of the Growth & Justice board of directors.