I work with the Office of Admissions at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Part of my job is simply introducing myself, and as soon as I say that I’m a native of Waseca, I can see the look of recognition on people’s faces. Most Minnesotans are aware of the drama of our wonderful small town — the thwarted plan for a mass killing. Everyone who knows the citizens of Waseca knows how compassionate they are; we have had too much loss to deal with in too little time. The least people can do is respect our sense of community and offer a little privacy.
Something terrible was avoided because good citizens did what they should have. But how much have we seen about that portion of this story? We have seen little about how quickly police responded. We have heard little about how easy it is to make a call about suspicious activity. We have heard little praise for concerned citizens who think “better safe than sorry” and remind residents that it’s OK to be suspicious and concerned. That is what I wish the news stories were like now about Waseca.
I hope that the Star Tribune can illustrate some of these positive aspects over the next few months, because everyone needs to remember that there is a silver lining to every dark cloud. Perhaps highlighting the positives can help to prevent more tragedies in the future.
Kaitlyn Seberson, Waseca
Look for consistency in application of beliefs
When payment for contraception comes into public discussion, as with the Supreme Court’s decision allowing Hobby Lobby and other corporations with religious concerns to refuse to pay for women’s health care using contraception, one should immediately include discussion of payments for erectile aids including Viagra as the comparative case. Following their own doctrines, the Church of Latter Day Saints, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, among others, should all have very strong, very public objections to the payment for Viagra, a product that so obviously contradicts their teachings. So why is a “sinful” drug (used primarily for non-procreative sex and, worse, for masturbation) not decried from the hilltops by these church leaders? Because these church leaders are men, and men who selectively choose which parts of their religion to impose on others.
One could point to many other examples of selective “outrage” by religious leaders in medicine. We must stick to the principle that, in all cases, medical doctors — in private consultation with their patients — will make decisions about individual men’s and women’s physical and mental health. Health insurance coverage is not something to be picked apart by selectively religious CEOs. Raising the comparison of money for Viagra will perhaps give certain religious men the sensitivity they seem to lack regarding women’s health care.
Dr. Kirstin M. Erickson, Orono
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A survey of 2,000 people published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 7 in 10 Americans support mandatory insurance coverage for birth control. It is essential that companies make decisions based on their values, but when those values intrude on the personal health and safety of their employees, issues of justice and rationality must be discussed beyond the sheen of a projected morality. Birth control allows women to have control over their futures and continue moving toward economic equality if they choose to do so. Even under a literal biblical interpretation that assumes intimacy is appropriate only in marriage, why would a company deny a couple the right to a complete and fulfilling relationship? This decision hurts those who cannot afford birth control, and it sets a dangerous precedent for companies to disrupt the individual freedoms of their employees under religious pretenses.
Amy Kaschke, Inver Grove Heights
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The 15,000 employees of Hobby Lobby are now subject to the religious beliefs of that corporate entity. I’ll bet they didn’t know that when they accepted the job.
Rick LiaBraaten, Maple Grove
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I think that the Supreme Court meddling in health insurance and religion makes it necessary for young women to take care of themselves at the grass-roots level. If you work for a company that limits your coverage in any area that you find intrusive and possibly abusive, take it upon yourself to get the word out, so that other young women do not make the mistake of applying at said company. If you are applying to work at a business, ask about coverage limitations, and be sure that you can live with the answer.
Wayne Sather, Eagan
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Although it may not have been their intention, the justices, by ruling for Hobby Lobby, ensured a considerably higher rate of abortions than would result if the contraceptive rule were enforced. In a St. Louis experiment in 2012, with 9,000 women provided free contraceptives, the abortion rate per 1,000 dropped to 4.4, compared with 20 nationwide. Teen pregnancies also dropped precipitously. Contraception has proved to be considerably more effective than “just say no” when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies. Perhaps a boycott of Hobby Lobby would get the company to see the light.
Robert Veitch, Richfield
A helpful decision on office location
We wholeheartedly welcome the news that the federal government’s immigration offices will remain in place near adequate access to public transportation (“Feds reverse course on moving vital Minnesota immigration office,” StarTribune.com, July 1).
We know from almost 30 years of working in our community that public transportation is an absolute necessity for refugees struggling to lead healthy and productive lives. In fact, our torture survivor clients rely on the bus to access services at our St. Paul Healing Center.
For refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants seeking safety and desiring to contribute fully in family, community and economic life here, we should be reducing barriers, not creating them.
Minnesota, and especially the Twin Cities, has a well-deserved reputation as a most welcoming home for some of the largest refugee and immigrant populations in the country. We commend those members of our congressional delegation and all others who came together to resolve this matter in a way that is consistent with our proud tradition as a place where our new neighbors feel at home.
Andrea Northwood, St. Paul
The writer is director of client services at the Center for Victims of Torture.