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Nathan Johnson ("'Product of conception' rights are human rights," Opinion Exchange, May 11) asserts that the dependency of the human fetus is no different from the consideration and care we expect for any other dependent human beings, but I see one enormous difference. No individual who cares for non-fetal human beings will ever be forced to do so by legislation. You can choose to parent a baby or care for elderly or the disabled and there will never be a penalty enforced by the state if you choose not to. In contrast, the dependency of a fetus is unique, since only the impregnated women can "care" for it.

In the realm of pure biology, life, or the potential for it, does begin at conception. However, human beings have developed the ability to disregard the "natural" progression of much of our biological lives because of the scientific discoveries that thwart disease, produce abundant food and even artificially inseminate to create life. Modern medicine has also created the ability to terminate a pregnancy, and there's no putting that genie back in the bottle. Does the fetus have the "right" to continue living no matter the consequences just because a sperm and egg came together to produce this life? Some say yes and others say no, but there is an imperative created by the combination of biology and technology that neither side can escape.

Regardless of state legislation, it will still be the mother's choice to carry the pregnancy to term or not; the only difference will be to what lengths she'll have to go if she decides to terminate and the repercussions she will suffer as a result of either side of that choice.

Connie Clabots, Minneapolis


How interesting that the letter writer of "Not all potentials are realized" (May 12) should counter Johnson's argument against abortion rights with a suggestion that, since "God allows for [the] possibility of [miscarriage]," humans should feel free to actively orchestrate and provoke the same thing. With this "logic," we would have to conclude, for example, that there is nothing wrong with actively starving ourselves or causing another to die from starvation, because in some areas of the world there is not sufficient food — i.e., since God apparently allows for it, we should run with (what we perceive to be) God's ball and up the numbers for him. The fact that something occurs "in nature" does not lead to a conclusion that we, mere mortals, have moral license/authority to replicate the same thing. Should we orchestrate deadly tsunamis or volcanic eruptions? The fact that we do not understand or appreciate any "reason" behind natural tragedies (including miscarriages) matters not. We are not God.

The writer's characterization of anti-abortion arguments as "dogma supremacy" and "distortion of science" are what is misguided. She warns us of the "totalitarian societies" resulting from these things. A totalitarian regime controls the individual. Most anti-abortionists place a great deal of value on the individual and regard an unborn human as the most vulnerable individual of all. Further, we do not look at women as "being punished for sexual activity," but, rather, (with little exception) as individuals who must carefully exercise their choice to engage in the sort that may create a new life — most particularly when they do not want to and/or are not in a position to care for one.

Tina Appleby, Roseville


Those concerned that the reasoning in the Supreme Court's leaked draft opinion eliminating abortion rights might lead to the evisceration of constitutional recognition of same-sex marriage need look no further than remarks made by Donald Trump shortly after his election as president in 2016.

After urging on "60 Minutes" that high court cases going back more than 40 years at the time allowing abortion be overturned, he demurred when asked about reversing the court's same-sex ruling just a year earlier because "it's law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean, it's done."

That should reassure same-sex couples now and in the future and their supporters that their rights will not be taken away.

Marshall Tanick, Minneapolis


Voted down, again?

The Minnesota State High School League has an ongoing equity problem. The latest example came on Tuesday when 17 members of the Representative Assembly voted to deny boys the opportunity to play volleyball as a MSHSL sport ("Single vote keeps MSHSL from adding boys' volleyball," May 11). Currently, 1,400 boys are playing, without MSHSL's support. Most of these students do not participate in another sport. More than half are students of color. This was a golden opportunity for the MSHSL to demonstrate its stated commitment to being inclusive. It failed by one vote.

What was gained? There are some athletic directors who are delighted with this outcome. They feel validated. They are protected, for another year, from the pressure to deliver boys' volleyball in their schools. Are their students delighted? Do they feel validated? Does it matter?

The approval process raises renewed questions around MSHSL's commitment to equity. Why are MSHSL practices so disconnected from its mission? Who is benefiting from this disconnect? Are our students? Are our underrepresented students? Are our students of color?

The executive director, on the MSHSL "News" webpage, cheerfully told volleyball supporters that they can try again next year. He vaguely mentioned "questions" that future proposals could address. He did not mention the mission of MSHSL. He did not mention MSHSL's equity goal. He did not even mention the students.

There is no need to endlessly revise the boys' volleyball proposal. There is a need for MSHSL to deliver on its mission.

Michelle Yener, Maplewood


MSHSL continues to put politics above the students of Minnesota. This week, they again voted down the sanctioning of boys' volleyball. Boys' volleyball has been growing exponentially over the past years, yet Minnesota continues to be behind the rest of the nation in recognizing it. Twenty-seven states have sanctioned boys' volleyball. My question is, why does the MSHSL continue to ignore the opinions of its constituents? Ignoring the voices of students they claim to represent continues to be their modus operandi.

Matthew Ruhland, Lakeville

The writer plays club volleyball at Lakeville North.


Bravo to Walker West

As the parent of a former Walker West student, I found the school to be an absolute gem ("Walker West working to grow beyond the music," May 11). The instruction was excellent. Kids of all racial and ethnic backgrounds came together in ways they probably wouldn't have otherwise and developed respect for each other through the joy of making music. The sense of community in the school was powerful. Kids developed friendships and so did their parents. In short, this program, nominally dedicated to music instruction, was breaking down barriers in the community and building bonds across neighborhoods and socioeconomic strata. Without a doubt, Walker West is an important and potent asset for the city of St. Paul.

But there's a much more subtle benefit — one that state lawmakers would do well to consider. A recent major study in the Journal of Educational Psychology reported this: "[S]tudents highly engaged in music were, on average, academically over 1 year ahead of their peers not engaged in school music." The researchers say the study was the largest of its kind to date and was based on the academic performance of nearly 113,000 public school students, grades 7-12, in British Columbia.

With state funding to help secure a new, larger facility, Walker West Music Academy would have greater capacity to increase access to music education, improve academic achievement and promote the state's commonweal.

Bill Catlin, St. Paul