REDEFINING BIRTH CONTROL

Will Pawlenty object?

Thank you for your thoughtful editorial "Playing politics with women's health care" (Aug. 3), regarding the Bush administration's outrageous rule that would redefine birth control as abortion.

In addition to putting politics before health care policy, this rule would undermine Minnesota's 2007 law that requires hospitals to provide emergency contraception in the ER to rape survivors. This law united legislators on both sides of the debate over reproductive rights, and in recognition of the strong public support, was signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

We hope that our governor will stand up for the rights of Minnesota women and doesn't play politics with women's lives.

LINNEA HOUSE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NARAL PRO-CHOICE MINNESOTA, ST. PAUL

Following a conscience

Health care workers are all dedicated to saving the lives of others. Unfortunately, today's medical procedures include drugs and techniques that have nothing to do with treating a disease and saving lives. These are voluntary treatments, not necessary ones.

Soldiers are obligated to refuse to follow immoral orders from their commanding officers. And they are protected from retaliation.

What is different about compelling a medical professional to reject their conscience and follow orders they believe are immoral?

KYLE CHRISTENSEN, LAKEVILLE

Look in the mirror

Having read your Aug. 3 editorial on the Health and Human Services proposal to include the prevention of implantation under the umbrella definition of abortion, I have three rhetorical questions:

One: Ought a medical professional be exempted from any obligation to participate in what he or she, with some cause, believes to be murder, as in an abortion? Thirty years of law -- and every standard of human decency -- say "yes." Your editorial on the subject seems to agree.

Two: Does the prevention of implantation constitute an abortion? Technically, no. Before implantation, there is no pregnancy; just a human embryo floating somewhere in its mother's body. The embryo is then expelled and killed by the hormonal drugs in question. By a strict definition of abortion, the American Medical Association is right.

Three: Should medical professionals nonetheless be exempted from having to participate in the expulsion and killing of that embryo? Of course! Where the embryo happens to be residing, in the uterine wall or not, is quite irrelevant. The question is whether or not a human being is being killed, whether by a curette or an overdose of estrogen. If so, the right not to participate is just as fundamental as it is in "true" abortions.

Your editorial, like the AMA, plays nonsensical linguistic games with the issue and then jumps to dire predictions about Catholic bishops and the downfall of birth control. That, gentlemen, is the definition of playing politics with women's health.

JAMES HEANEY, ST. PAUL

THE ALZHEIMER'S THREAT

Value volunteer time

If Alzheimer's is looming as a huge threat to Medicare -- as stated in your Aug. 6 editorial -- and its patients' families are shouldering an amazing amount of their care, then relieving the financial burden placed on those families should take priority over more funding for Alzheimer's research or Medicare. That could be accomplished by allowing a tax deduction for volunteered time contracted with 501c3 nonprofit institutions.

One of the greatest wastes in productivity today, as well as contributing to the early onset of Alzheimer's disease, is time frittered away by retirees after age 65!

By placing a value on contracted time -- the minimum wage and limited to no more than 40 hours a week -- it could be deducted as a charitable contribution from an individual's personal income tax.

JOANNA C. ROVELSTAD, ROCHESTER

KING CORN

Still more to commend

In the mouth-watering feature on sweet corn (Variety, Aug. 7), I was surprised that an excellent way of preparing the delicious item was not mentioned. We microwave sweet corn as follows:

Without husking, trim the ends of the ear by cutting off the stem where it attaches to the ear and the husk beyond the tip. Strip off just the outer few dry husk leaves leaving the bulk of the husk on the ear. Place on a microwave-safe platter and microwave at full power for four to five minutes per ear, depending on the power of the microwave oven. Allow to cool a few minutes until the corn can be handled, strip and enjoy. Microwaving in the husk adds a subtle fresh flavor which is delectable.

GORDON M. LEE, ST. LOUIS PARK

FRONT-PAGE FOLLIES

Nerd's a bad word

Just how far can the squishy front page of your paper fall? You lead on Aug. 3 by glorifying athletes, then below run the headline, "A science nerd with a dark side."

When our country needs more scientists and fewer celebrities, how about, to use your own words, "Eccentric soft-spoken scientist with a dark side"? One can only wonder what pencil-necked, reclusive, disorganized, inebriated, bookworm geek writer crafted this headline.

JIM REA, EDEN PRAIRIE

A campaign's contempt

But not for Big Oil

Is it any wonder that the McCain campaign and the Republican Party are making fun of Barack Obama's suggestion that American drivers properly inflate their tires?

With proper inflation, we collectively could save 3 percent of our gas, with the resulting savings going directly into the pockets of American drivers. I would rather have $60 saving per year staying in my pocket than going into the already inflated profits of Big Oil.

LEON KNIGHT, BROOKLYN CENTER