A Feb. 13 letter writer asserts that the contraceptive issue a is about two core questions. One of these is: "Does contraception count as health care?" His answer is that "it does not treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any commonly recognized disease." This premise is false.
Recent studies show that 14 percent of women taking these medications do so for conditions other than contraception. The most common are excessive menstrual bleeding and/or pain, which can be disabling for many women. Often this treatment is used because it preserves fertility, whereas surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus, while effective in relieving symptoms, would cause sterility. An irony is that for these conditions, those opposing oral contraceptives are in fact encouraging the more expensive, risky and sterilizing option.
In terms of public health, the use of oral contraceptives for more than five years reduces ovarian and uterine cancer by more than 40 percent from the rate found in those who have never used them. This may be important to women with a strong family history of these cancers.
Since this is a religious issue, it might be noted that the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Mark has an account of a woman who had excessive menstrual bleeding for 12 years and had bankrupted herself under the care of many doctors. Jesus healed her, no questions asked.
DR. CHARLES R. PETERSON, NISSWA, MINN.
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The Feb. 13 letter writer compared pregnancy prevention to no more a health issue then deciding whether to do aerobics. As a mother who has experienced five pregnancies, and as the wife of a family physician who has been delivering babies for 25 years, I feel he is wrong.
Pregnancy in and of itself is a health risk. Certainly, with regular physician care, a pregnancy can develop normally and in a healthy manner. However, there are many health risks that do arise and even are serious enough that a woman may be advised to avoid more pregnancies.
Some women develop hypertension during pregnancy that threatens the life of both mother and baby; often, women develop diabetes during pregnancy, and that also can threaten the well-being of both mother and baby; then, there are women who already have many children to take care of at home, and they can become greatly depressed to find themselves pregnant once again.
Whether or not you believe in contraception or elect to use it, your decision clearly is directly related to the health issue that is pregnancy.
MARG SELTZ, AFTON
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As much as environmentalists such as Robert Redford would like to stop the Keystone pipeline, it will eventually win the approval of Congress and President Obama. When that happens, let's make sure it is a victory for both environmentalists and oil companies. While alternative energy sources are good long-term goals, there is lower-hanging fruit just waiting to be picked: the prevention of oil spills.
All oil spills are preventable. A quick review shows that negligence is always involved. The crew of the Exxon Valdez was overworked and fatigued when it steered the tanker onto a reef. A second emergency valve could have prevented the BP oil spill.
Hundreds of smaller and sometimes not-so-small spills occur each year because aging pipelines have not been maintained or replaced. Approval of Keystone should coincide with approval of strict new regulations that make all oil spills a thing of the past.
PAUL BROWN, OAK PARK HEIGHTS
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In response to bus rapid transit running into a roadblock because of disagreement over what the buses should look like ("Bus spat puts Met Council, 'burbs at odds again," Feb. 13), since when does the design of a bus matter? When I hop on a bus, I don't care what the color scheme of it is; all I care about is the little number that tells me what route it is.
MATT STETLER, MINNEAPOLIS
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When I think of Whitney Houston's talent, one thing immediately strikes me. I remember hearing America's "A Horse With No Name" and thinking at first it was Neil Young. I recall hearing Badfinger and thinking how much they sounded like the Beatles. I don't ever remember hearing anyone and saying, "Wow, you know she sounds like Whitney Houston." A voice like hers has never been heard before and will likely never be heard again. Hers wasn't exactly my style of music, but her abilities were undeniable. She may be gone, but her voice will live on and on.
DAVID SEEBA, COON RAPIDS
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Lo, how the mighty have fallen! Fallen auto mogul and oft-maligned "fraudster" Denny Hecker now seems to be regarded as a menace to society in some judicial circles ("Indiana prison isn't Hecker's last stop, federal officials say," Feb. 11).
Solitary confinement, transfers between prisons and constant judicial harassment are his lot in life. Is Guantanamo the next stop for Denny? We are not talking about a mass murderer or rapist here. His crime was living beyond his means -- one that many of us commit.
Denny just did so on an epic scale! But he's paid a heavy price, stripped of his goods, dignity and freedom. It is time to give the guy a break -- and maybe even a cellphone.
DONALD WOLESKYH, MINNEAPOLIS