If a bridge can go up in a year ...

The Letter of the Day for Sept. 21 congratulated those involved with the speedy success of the new Interstate 35W bridge. Two weeks prior, the Star Tribune published a front-page story about the rise of homelessness in our city. One in six children are homeless or lack permanent housing in Minneapolis.

If we can build a new bridge in a year, we should be able to build more affordable homes for these children and their families. Minneapolis bridges could be used for driving, not for shelter.


Homeowners also deserve help

There have been and will continue to be many arguing that those who signed on to sub-prime mortgages are at fault for the current mess in the financial markets. Such statements absolve financial institutions from any responsibility. Consider that the lenders who decided to underwrite those loans in the first place and then securitized those loans and sold them in the financial markets now won't lend operating cash to the financial institutions that purchased or insured the mortgage-backed securities. It's like animals eating their young.

That said, the proposed bailout is necessary if for no other reason than the fact that the nation's retirement savings are tied up in the health of the companies that are now in trouble. While we are rushing to save the financial industry, we should also help the individuals whose only crime was wanting to own their piece of the American Dream. Given the size of the bailout, we can find a few hundred million to help out those who are just trying to stay in their homes.


USA-AIG to the rescue?

Now that the U.S. taxpayers own the world's largest insurance company, maybe we can do something about the 45 million people without health insurance!


Sunlight on campaign deceptions

I commend the Star Tribune for reprinting the Washington Post editorial stating that the Obama campaign has not accurately described the complete history of John McCain's stance on regulation (Opinion Exchange, Sept. 21).

I hope your paper will be even more vigilant in sharing outright deception by either campaign or its supporters. I would draw attention to the opinion column in the Sept. 21 New York Times which notes that a federal judge in Virginia has temporarily stopped the group "Real Truth About Obama" from spreading lies about Barack Obama. Incomplete ads are problematic, outright deception is more egregious.


Still more facets to the abortion debate

Karin B. Miller's column, "Multifaceted, but under threat of simplification" (Opinion Exchange, Sept. 21), attempted to illustrate the complexity of the abortion issue, but ultimately reinforced the very simplification it attempted to discredit.

Miller used an example of a college role-playing exercise with the goal of pointing out the "shades of gray" of abortion. Students were presented with a variety of scenarios of unintended pregnancy, while for part of the exercise imagining the men were the ones who were pregnant. That part may have been innovative, but the remainder of the assignment rested on tired cliches about abortion.

The circumstances presented were these: You hooked up with a one-night stand and became pregnant; you are a married couple expecting a baby with severe birth defects; your baby sitter has just confided to you that she is the victim of incest and is pregnant.

These scenarios ignore the realities of the demographics of abortion in America.

According to a 2004 Alan Guttmacher Institute study, less than 0.05 percent of abortion patients were rape or incest victims. Only 3 percent were having an abortion because of problems with the health of the fetus. Though examples of rape/incest/health of the fetus are often trotted out by abortion advocates as reasons Roe vs. Wade must not be overturned, such cases only account for 3.05 percent of abortions.

The three chief reasons for abortion in the Guttmacher study were: not ready for a child/timing is wrong; can't afford a baby now; completed childbearing. Instead of offering scenarios that are rarely reasons for abortion to point out the "shades of gray" in this volatile issue, the exercise could have asked students how they could avoid becoming pregnant in the above-mentioned circumstances. That would have been more helpful in achieving what Miller rightly states is a shared goal by both sides of this issue: reducing unintended pregnancy, instead of trying to prove a one-sided point about abortion.

The article then digressed to criticize a proposed rule by the Department of Health and Human Services that would allow employees of federally financed health care entities to refuse to assist in medical services they find objectionable.

I can't count the number of times I have seen the bumper sticker, "If you don't believe in abortion, don't have one," or something to that effect. What this slogan means to convey is that abortion is a private choice. How then, can one point to privacy rights as the very reason for Roe vs. Wade's existence, yet deny the privacy rights of medical professionals who might strongly object to participating in abortion? Does a woman not only have a right to an abortion but also the right to command medical professionals who object to it to facilitate her choice?

This "privacy" issue goes beyond women and health professionals. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, 28 percent of abortions performed in Minnesota are taxpayer-funded. So which is it: a private choice or a public demand?

Miller ends her piece with the common bogeyman of a McCain-Palin administration leading to overturning Roe vs. Wade, ultimately ending the "shades of gray" in the abortion issue. What she omits is that if Roe vs. Wade were overturned, abortion would not become illegal. It would be left up to the states to decide if abortion would be legal or not in each state, thus handing the issue back to the people and removing it from the legislative branch, where many believe it never belonged.

This would result in the truly multifaceted choice of the people determining what is right in their own states (restrictions on late-term abortions, laws against transporting minors across state lines to obtain abortions -- a tactic many abusers use, restrictions on abortion for sex selection, etc.) rather than a black-and-white edict from the bench that says abortion virtually without restriction must be legal and available across the land.