Three ways to look at the broader picture


On Friday, the Star Tribune published a letter stating that because of legalized abortion "50 million innocent, unborn children" have been deprived the "freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness." This statement makes the following assumptions:

1) Each of these 50 million were viable fetuses that would have lived if born.

2) Each of these 50 million pregnant women were physically capable of carrying a child to term and giving birth.

3) Each of these 50 million women would not have decided to terminate their pregnancy if abortion were illegal.

4) Our country has the resources to feed, clothe and house another 50 million; our economy could produce enough jobs to employ another 50 million at a living wage.

Acknowledging the realities of life means that it is not a straight assumption that all of these children would have survived if abortion were illegal. It also means considering the life of the mother, which could be risked by having an illegal abortion performed or by being forced to carry a child she physically couldn't.


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The doctrine known as "responsibility to protect," expressed by Ellen Kennedy in a Jan. 19 commentary ("From some things, we must not look away") is clear and, most would say, worthy. Working through the United Nations, R2P outlines each nation's responsibility to protect its citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

To be credible, responsibility to protect the vulnerable should start at home in the United States with the most defenseless -- the unborn. How can we in good conscience speak of crimes against humanity when we practice the horror of abortion?

Mother Teresa was a great spokesperson for the unborn over the years. To quote her: "The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child. If we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"

President Obama said in his inaugural address that "our journey is not yet complete." Yes, we do need to fix a few things. We should begin by addressing the social injustice of abortion. Our journey would still not yet be complete, but we would demonstrate to the world we believe in justice, and that we have the moral courage to lead.


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As we look on in sorrow and confusion on yet another case of gun violence, as a true feminist and left-winger, I can come to only one conclusion. If we all could picture the cycle of life -- from conception to natural death -- as a chain, it's easy to see that a break in any one of the links puts the integrity of the whole in jeopardy. Too often we counter problems of violence with more of the same, with predictable results.

While the early feminists fought tooth-and-nail for the right to use contraceptives, they adamantly opposed abortion, calling it "child murder."

Whether we, as a civilization, can survive the future, we need to start making life-affirming decisions now.


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Around the globe, change is needed


I read "Half the Sky," then viewed the PBS documentary. Now I feel led to share what I learned with others, in the hope that we all take seriously the call to empower women and girls around the world.

One out of three women throughout the world will be abused in her lifetime. Two million people (mostly women and children) are sold into slavery every year. There are 75 million children (mostly girls) who do not attend school. A woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth every minute, 99 percent of them in the developing world.

All these factors lead to a lack of economic empowerment for women. They are paid less and work more; 70 percent of people in poverty are women. Why is this? In more than 100 countries, there are no legal ramifications for abuse. Fewer than 100 countries have laws against human trafficking. Women and girls have less value in much of the developing world, leading to the use of rape as a weapon during war, to honor killings, to selective abortions, and to forced marriages before the age of consent.

Why does this matter? In nations where girls are educated, their communities benefit economically and politically, and in general health. In nations where women can work, they have fewer children and are less likely to be abused.


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Minnesota isn't quite there yet


The Safe Harbor Act pushes Minnesota public policy toward a victim-centered approach to sex trafficked juveniles, but its means to an end are flawed ("Plan shelters exploited kids," Jan. 19).

The act grants complete amnesty to sex-trafficked youths under the age of 16 but requires children between ages 16 and 18 to earn victim status by cooperating with state-mandated programs. Failure to do so can still result in prostitution charges. This is inconsistent with the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the global human-rights approach; both assert that all sex-trafficked juveniles under the age of 18 are victims. Minnesota's inconsistency with federal policy dampens the credibility of the United States' approach to sex trafficking internationally. Illinois' Safe Children Act is consistent with federal policy, wherein all children under 18 are completely immune from prostitution charges.

The Safe Harbor Act lacks the funding to create adequate housing and therapies for sex-trafficked juveniles from scratch. Individualized programs are needed to address child victims' diverse mental and physical traumas. Since more than 80 percent of sex-trafficked children have had contact with the child-welfare system, Minnesota should use existing child-welfare frameworks and personnel in order to minimize costs and maximize results.