The recent dialogue about abortion on these pages centers on whether abortion has good or ill effects on women and society, as if abortion should be permitted or outlawed because one argument is "better" than the other. But almost no one goes back to the fundamental question: Why do we make some behaviors a crime? We do so only when there is broad social consensus that the behavior is harmful or just plain wrong under any moral framework — like stealing, fraud and, yes, killing another human being. Anti-abortion advocates seize on this last point as evidence that abortion should be criminalized because it's just another form of murder. But isn't that the heart of the problem? There is no consensus, anywhere, that a fetus has the same status as a human being. In fact, our various religious and secular moral traditions come to completely different conclusions on this point — something that is just not true for everything else we make a crime. Since we, as a society, can't agree on the whether this behavior is "right" or "wrong," there is no basis for giving the decision to the state, which then imposes one moral conclusion on millions of people who don't share that view.
If Roe is overturned, I worry about the practical impacts on women. But, at a deeper level, I worry that our courts and political system will lose their legitimacy — perhaps pulling the thread that begins to unravel our entire social fabric. We're on a dangerous brink.
Stephen Bubul, Minneapolis
The U.S. Supreme Court began consideration of the case of Mississippi further restricting abortion, with the possibility of overturning the controversial 1973 decision legalizing abortion or simply maintaining the awkward confusing abortion laws currently in place in each state. Pro-abortion advocates will demand maintaining the current rights to abortion as a minimum because ... well, it's been the law for the past 48 years. Pro-life advocates will argue that the science has changed with advancements that recognize that life actually begins at conception, after which heartbeats are soon detected, and infants are surviving after birth at a mere 21 weeks.
Both sides argue that there is no middle ground here; it is all or nothing, as it was in that fateful decision of 1973 that has claimed the lives of millions of children never given any chance at life. How can the country be so divided on this issue, stubbornly believing its side is right? Pleasing everyone will be impossible here, but one science-based solution might be to ban abortion after 20 weeks. We might go back to the Constitution that gives rights to all those "born," but did the writers actually mean "conceived"?
Laws recognize unborn children as lives in wrongful death claims; it would seem to follow that life therefore begins at conception.
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
Time indeed to weigh in — in favor
I agree with the central premise of Friday's editorial — it's time to weigh in on the state nonferrous mining rule and the proposed federal mining ban in northeast Minnesota ("Weigh in now on BWCA's future"). I also agree with Thursday's editorial on needed infrastructure investments ("Biden brings good news to Minnesota"). But unlike the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which is arguing for mining oversight based on conjecture, and focused on publicly funded infrastructure, I hope those commenting will weigh in on the side of scientific inquiry and private investment in needed infrastructure.
Congress, the Minnesota Legislature, state and federal agencies, environmental groups, and mining companies have spent decades conducting the research, working on laws and regulations, and establishing the permitting processes to assure that development of copper, nickel and other nonferrous minerals in Minnesota will be managed responsibly.
Proposed mines must undergo exhaustive scrutiny before earning permits. Proposal specifics, the unique geology, and the site's environmental circumstances are scrutinized. This process, and stringent regulations, are designed to ensure mining is done safely, protecting the environment.
This Editorial Board and mining opponents are suggesting we skip these science-based processes and ban mining. They fail to recognize that the greatest risk to the BWCA is climate change. Fighting this climate crisis requires the minerals that are abundant in northern Minnesota: copper, nickel, cobalt and more.
So yes, please weigh in. There's a lot at stake. Our state and our schools need the economic benefits non-ferrous mining will bring. Our ability to combat the climate crisis with domestically-sourced minerals is also on the line.
Brian Hanson, Duluth
The writer is president and CEO of Area Partnership for Economic Expansion and board chair of the labor, business and community coalition, Jobs for Minnesotans.
Despite everything, it's pretty great
I have been a happy Uptown resident for the last 25 years and plan to be until they roll me across the street to the beautiful green grasses of Lakewood Cemetery. And I just had an experience that cemented that decision that I have to share with my neighbors and any Uptown-phobics.
I needed to drop two large and heavy boxes at FedEx on Lake Street. The closest parking spot was a good four or five storefronts down. As I struggled to balance the boxes on the bike rack, close the door and get my keys out to lock the car, I heard a young woman's voice from down the street holler, "Are you going to be going in here?" I emphatically nodded yes! She replied, "Here, I'll hold the door for you!" What? I slowly carried my heavy load, and she patiently waited there with the door open, smiling, a vibrant 20-something with very creative makeup. As I walked past her, I said in exhausted breath, "There's a special place in heaven for you!" To which she said, "It's my birthday, and I want to see how many people I can be nice to." Well, what a gift she was to me. Viva Uptown!
Tim Pearson, Minneapolis
It's been a tough and acrimonious year in the city of Minneapolis — so much anger born of sustained stress. I'm writing, however, to call out the extraordinary and remarkable service of our city's Public Works Department.
As the longtime owner of a 117-year-old house, it wasn't a total surprise to discover at the beginning of November that the old sewer line to our house broke open in the past year.
However, when our reliable plumbers from Ron the Sewer Rat told us to call the city, I did with a bit of reluctance. What I found was compassionate counsel, quick response, and great advice and help.
And two weeks later, when the issue became more acute, the city staff was there to walk us through the process of quickly getting repairs that were clearly needed before it became a profoundly smelly mess.
A shout-out to the Minneapolis Sewer Maintenance Supervisor Sean Oberg and his team, plus the Chief Inspector for Utility Connections Brad Blackhawk and his crew. Thank you from a 30-year resident who fully recognizes the value of the taxes we pay to support this level of service.
Mary M. Koppel, Minneapolis
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