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"The collateral damage of legalized abortion is vast" (Opinion Exchange, Dec. 1) might just as well read "The collateral damage of birth control is vast" when Renee Carlson and Teresa Stanton Collett argue that it is abortion that leads to a "disconnect between sex and childbearing," wanting to return men and women to a bygone era where "sexual commitment and exclusivity were the norm."

Teenage girls and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have dreams, hopes, aspirations and goals for their lives. They need birth control available to them, including abortion, so that they can have children when they are physically, emotionally and financially prepared to do so. Raising a child is a 25-year commitment. Abortion needs to be part of birth-control services, allowing a woman to decide when and if to have children and how many she wants to have.

Mary Ellen Lundberg, Minneapolis


As the Supreme Court prepares to look at whether to overturn a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, I look back painfully on my own, illegal, abortion. I am ardently pro-choice, always have been, always will be — with the emphasis on "choice."

I was in my early 20s, in my first career job out of college, the daughter of strict Catholics and someone who didn't talk about sex with my friends back then. And I was facing a pregnancy after my diaphragm failed. What was I to do! I had tucked away in the back of my mind that a doctor in Madison performed abortions, though illegal. I made an appointment — almost two months out, because of the appointment backlog. Yikes! That gave me lots of time to really think it over. Could I do it? Would I bleed to death in some back-alley, dirty place? Could I raise a child alone on my meager first-job-out-of-college salary? Would my strongly Catholic parents disown me, leaving me to face the situation alone? Would I be able to have future children? Would the abortion make me sterile? Do I tell the man I had had only three dates with, having sex on the last date, never to see or hear from him again? All these thoughts were torturous. On top of these thoughts, I was seriously disturbed at the thought that if I had an abortion, I would be breaking the law.

What to do, what to do! I ultimately decided to have an abortion. It was performed by a kind man in a very sterile medical clinic. I did not die, and I later had three children, who are now grown. I never told anyone about my pregnancy and abortion, except the friend who drove me to Madison. I never told even my husband about either. I had the abortion in the '70s; I married in 1980. I think I told my kids; we don't talk about it.

Am I glad I had an abortion? After years of Catholic guilt and mental hand-wringing, lots of counseling and the legalization of abortion nationwide, I guess I made the right decision for me — "for me" being the operative phrase. Throughout all these intervening years, I have mentally visited my decision, sometimes with relief, sometimes with angst.

As I said earlier, I am an ardent supporter of choice. Everyone deserves to make their own choice. However, I think 15 weeks — round it up to 16 if you will — is more than adequate to decide whether abortion or childbirth is right for you. The Mississippi law makes most abortions illegal after the 15th week of pregnancy. The law does not ban abortion, as some think and protest about. The existing law provides plenty of time, under all circumstances, including rape and incest, to decide. I felt life in my womb sometime during the fourth to fifth month of my pregnancies, convincing me that abortion after 16 weeks would be murder.

Kathy Peterson, Edina


As reported in this newspaper recently, two people were charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the death of a mother and her unborn child ("She was 28, pregnant and left dead in a fiery trailer," Nov. 20). The legal system recognized this unborn child as a human life, thus the murder charge. Why, then, is an unborn child who is aborted not recognized as a human life? I am confused. They either both are human lives or they are not. Apparently, the definition of human life is determined by who terminates the unborn child.

Dan Bednarz, Bloomington


The comparison is not so apt

The wish for Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey to take on local DFL radicals, as Hubert Humphrey did to communists back in 1944, is fanciful. Chuck Chalberg's opinion piece ("Jacob Frey, meet your prospective model, Hubert Humphrey," Opinion Exchange, Nov. 25) would have us equate a dynamic, class-based party (Farmer-Labor Party) of Humphrey's time with the city DFL of today. They don't equate. Today's local party, at least the version seen in the past few years, is less institutionally based (i.e., labor union members, church leaders, organized voting blocs, socialists) than Humphrey experienced. Today's local party, some believe, is more a reflection of cultural politics than party discipline, more disparate grievances than hammered-out platforms, not a party so much as an electronic sounding board for opinions.

Frey's real fight will be with the new City Council on how to reform the police and over other proposals the council might advance, like rent control and truly affordable housing. The present city DFL offers no real threat to Frey, except at election time, which may be the only reason for him to try for some changes within the party. But unlike the DFL in Humphrey's day, today's party won't or can't advance realizable programs for the city. Better that Frey and the City Council grapple over practical measures to address city inequalities in housing, policing and community. Commencing a fight within the party à la Humphrey's fight would be pointless without people and program and practical solutions to reform it. Otherwise, it's a fancy.

Tom Beer, Minneapolis


Chalberg is misreading Minnesota political history when he sees a parallel between the internal Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party battles during Humphrey's mayoral years in the 1940s and the intraparty tensions in the modern-day Minneapolis DFL.

Chalberg maintains that newly re-elected Frey should emulate his famous mayoral predecessor, Humphrey, who battled the left wing of the newly formed DFL Party after the future vice president was elected to a second mayoral term in 1947.

According to Chalberg, Humphrey took on the left-wingers in the DFL and defeated them. Now, Chalberg wonders if Frey has "the courage and skill to take on the left of his own day." But the Star Tribune commentator fails to recognize that the political world of 2021 is far different from that of 1948.

To begin with, Humphrey was facing a newly dangerous cold war with the Soviet Union in 1948, only three years after the U.S. and the Soviets had been aligned in World War II in a joint effort to defeat the Nazis. In 1944, Humphrey had helped facilitate the merger or "fusion," as it was called then, of the national Democrats with Minnesota's once-dominant Farmer-Laborites, some of whom were Soviet apologists. Humphrey, with backing from prominent national Democratic leaders like Eleanor Roosevelt, realized that the newly formed DFL could not maintain political viability if it retained links to a Stalinist Soviet Union. Moreover, Humphrey, who had national ambitions, realized that those links would jeopardize his own political future.

Today, an East-West Cold War no longer has an overarching influence on domestic politics as it did during Humphrey's era in City Hall. Modern-day Democrats may differ among themselves about programs and policies, but conservative critics like Chalberg tend to magnify those differences in an effort to promote their own ideological perspective.

Chalberg is entitled to his own views about the issues facing progressive political leaders like Jacob Frey, but he is not entitled to rewrite history in order to make it fit those views.

Iric Nathanson, Minneapolis

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