Recently, an organization that opposes safe and legal abortion used secretly recorded, heavily edited videos to make outrageous claims about Planned Parenthood’s practices. Lawmakers so quick to condemn (“… practices in Minnesota ought to be investigated,” Readers Write, July 17) should check their facts. Let me clear some important things up.

Planned Parenthood in our region — a separately incorporated Planned Parenthood organization — does not have a fetal tissue donation program. In fact, when women ask our physicians if it is possible to donate tissue for research, we have no way of accommodating them.

However, several Planned Parenthood organizations around the country do have these programs in place so patients can opt to donate fetal tissue for medical research. Such research is a crucial aspect of scientific inquiry and is important to improving health care. Stem-cell research and other tissue research have led to major scientific and medical breakthroughs such as advances in treatment for Parkinson’s and the invention of the polio vaccine.

These donation programs are regulated and legal — and they exist in many hospitals and clinics not associated with Planned Parenthood. While the staff member’s tone and statements in the video do not reflect the compassionate care we provide, she made it clear that Planned Parenthood has very high standards and follows all laws.

The well-funded anti-abortion group that released these tapes worked for years to secretly record videos and edit them in completely misleading ways, all with one goal — to ban abortion completely and malign Planned Parenthood. Even a cursory look at the people behind this attack exposes them for the disreputable group they are. David Daledian, the group’s leader, is a former employee of Live Action — a discredited anti-abortion organization that came under fire for deceptively editing undercover footage of abortion clinics in order to make false claims about Planned Parenthood. Troy Newman, Daledian’s board member and adviser, is best known for his belief that murdering abortion doctors is justifiable homicide and for his habit of stalking clinic workers in Wichita, Kan.

While Planned Parenthood in our state does not have a tissue donation program, we stand behind our colleagues around the country who help women and families donate tissue for medical research when they wish to.

This is nothing more than a political attack from the same groups, backed by the same politicians, who have been trying to ban abortion and bring to an end Planned Parenthood for years. The lawmakers in Minnesota who are perpetuating these false claims should remember what the people elected them to do and get back to work.

Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota

BICYCLING AND RACIAL EQUITY

Really? These two contentions somehow can meld together?

I read the story on racial equity in cycling (July 17). Then I read it again. Later I read it again. I am amazed. Is the National Brotherhood of Cyclists claiming that riding a bike is another form of “white privilege”? Really — bike riding? A national conference being held in the Twin Cities continued Thursday with sessions featuring black women’s cycling, racial dynamics in bike advocacy and a session on gentrification titled “Are Bike Lanes White Lanes?”

Is everything about race? Where do these people come from?

Thomas Rowan, Apple Valley

 

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Israel has sought to have a voice because it has the most at stake

I’d like to remind the July 15 letter writer who excoriated Israel for not supporting the deal with Iran that the U.S. was not the country publicly threatened with extermination by the leadership of Iran. Nor were any of the other nations negotiating with Iran. No one believes that this treaty will stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons but rather that it will only postpone the day of breakout. So the deal paves the way for the country deemed the biggest supporter of terrorism in the world to get nuclear capabilities without even requiring the retraction of that threat. What country similarly threatened would approve of the deal as currently constituted?

Jay Herman, Eden Prairie

• • •

Judging by its critics in the paper beginning with Michael Gerson (July 15) and continuing through the editorial snippets and letters, the major problem with the Iran treaty is that it doesn’t make the Iranians nicer. That’s true, but it also doesn’t make the Saudis, Egyptians or anyone else in the Middle East nicer, either. The underlying problem in the region is that subsets of the Sunnis and Shia want to kill each other. No amount of American bombs, brigades and bluster, which is all the critics have to offer, will change that. The treaty ensures that the killing won’t be done with nuclear weapons; it may not be much, but it’s all that’s available.

John Sherman, Moorhead, Minn.

 

SEXUAL-CONSENT POLICY

Does it fail/pass basic tests of due process? What about humanity?

As a student at the University of Minnesota Law School, I was called on by professors to answer challenging legal questions. As a proud alumnus, I would like to return the favor: Professors, are the proposed revisions to the university’s Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence Policy, including the requirement of affirmative consent (“yes means yes”), a good idea?

Last year when Harvard University adopted a new policy and procedures for the handling of allegations of sexual misconduct, 28 of its former or then-current law school professors warned that the procedures lacked the most basic elements of fairness and due process. Should we be similarly concerned?

Tom Corbett, Stillwater

• • •

I was thrilled to see that the U was adopting a new policy on sexual consent. Then I was disgusted at the flippant remarks of James M. Dunn’s commentary on the subject (“The college student sexual-consent contract — a potentially true story,” July 8). Now I am saddened to read of the U’s delay on the policy, due to concern by some members of the Board of Regents. I find it interesting how people questioning the new policy are concerned about the burden of proof being put on the accused. Far too many victims’ lives have been altered or ruined because their rights have not been protected.

Perhaps trying to change the mind-set of adults is the problem here. Teaching a person to respect the rights of every human needs to begin at a very young age — at home, at church and synagogue, at elementary, middle and high school. Our kids need to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that respecting and valuing the lives and souls and bodies of humans is more important than any athletic championship or academic scholarship. And alcohol, drugs and peer pressure are not excuses. Don’t our children deserve that respect? Of course, they do. Stand your ground, university President Eric Kaler. And, hopefully, more parents, businesses, religious organizations and schools will do so as well.

Dawn Kalland, Edina

 

‘GO SET A WATCHMAN’

New Harper Lee release aligns with the human realities

There is much concern in literary circles about how “changed” Atticus Finch appears to be in the recently released “Go Set A Watchman” (“Lee’s ‘Mockingbird’ sequel portrays Atticus as a racist,” July 11), but I have a different take. We men who have tried, and failed, to live up to Atticus’ perfection for over 50 years are relieved to learn that he is actually very much like us — well-intentioned, but perfectly imperfect. Thank you, Harper Lee, for letting us in on the secret! My only question is: Why did you wait so long?

Philip Ahern, Minneapolis