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Yes, Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion overruling Roe v. Wade is a threat to women's bodily autonomy. But it is also a blueprint for how our Constitution — as brilliant of a document as it is — at times caters to the thoughts of men of the past more than the dignity of women living today.

Under our Constitution, if a right, like a woman's right to her reproductive choices, isn't directly named, writes Alito, that right must be "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition" to be protected. When boiled down, it's this language that empowers men of the past with control over women and their bodies in 2022. Here's how.

To understand what rights are "rooted" in our history and tradition, which Justice Alito demands, we must understand who had the power at the time to do the rooting.

The answer is obvious. Only men had that power to decide what would be "rooted" in our history. Specifically, only 1700s white men who owned property.

People of color, LGBTQ Americans, Indigenous people, non-property-owning men, and — important here — women did not have the power to root rights in our then-infant nation.

African Americans were enslaved. LGBTQ Americans were persecuted. Indigenous people were forced off their land. And women were not allowed to vote, to take on credit and were seen as simply the physical objects of men. We all know these facts.

So, when Justice Alito says that abortion is not "deeply rooted" in this nation's history, what he's really relying on is something much more paternalistic and devious. Justice Alito is really saying that men with power when this country began decided to "root" government control over women's bodies in our nation's history, and that history licenses him to continue controlling women's bodies and deny women the constitutional protection to control their own reproductive bodies.

Alito's words show our courts are required to ask a ridiculous question to determine whether the Constitution protects a right, like the right to choose: "What rights did men with power in the 1700s root in our history?"

That question tells you everything you need to know about why men from the 1700s keep controlling women's bodies in 2022, and it must stop.

Abou Amara, Minneapolis


I wonder about recent letters against abortion that don't even mention women, let alone with a sense of compassion. What does it mean when more consideration is given to sentimental fantasies about fetuses than to walking, talking, flesh-and-blood women and children? What does criminalization of abortion mean for the morning-after pill, IUDs, in vitro fertilization and other medical technology that some people may object to? How would banning these things improve the lives or health of real, living people, not hypothetical or potential people? How can some people romanticize fetuses and pregnancy and remain ignorant of some of the tragic circumstances that lead to abortion? For some people it seems that a woman is little more than an incubator.

Mary Bolton, Stillwater


In "Pregnant people have rights. Products of conception don't" (Opinion Exchange, May 5), Prof. Laura Hermer says that: "Infants come into the world dependent on the care and love of others, usually the person who gave birth to them. Accordingly, any legal rights they might have should be wholly contingent on each pregnant person's intentions concerning them." That dependence doesn't stop at birth; it continues for many years. If her legal theory is correct, it implies that parents should be able to legally kill their children until they are no longer dependent. It would also be legal to kill anyone who is dependent on others such as those with severe disabilities, those with dementia and elderly people in nursing homes.

Needless to say, Hermer's opinion is a radical departure from the current legal practice. It's a departure that very few would be willing to make. Most of us realize that killing a baby is murder. The fact that the baby is dependent on its parents does not make it acceptable for the parents to kill it. Similarly, it is not acceptable to kill a baby one day before it is born just because it is dependent on its parents. Even the Roe decision, which prevented state laws restricting abortions before 24 weeks, did not go as far as allowing all abortions up until birth.

James Brandt, New Brighton


George Will's commentary on Roe v. Wade belies the fundamental devaluing of women's lives by the anti-abortion movement ("After odious leak, America may start over on abortion," Opinion Exchange, May 4). First, he has bought into the argument that abortion is not deeply rooted in the nation's history and traditions. The state laws cited in the leaked opinion date from the 1800s. If one uses this argument for what is protected by the Constitution, then all women's rights should be taken away, such as the right to own property and raise her own children. One may argue the due process clause protects these rights, but originalists could use the argument that "women" is not explicitly stated in the 14th Amendment, and our traditions are that women have no rights.

My second issue is that he poses the issue solely as the woman vs. the fetus. Will clearly considers a mother's life secondary to the fetus' existence. What about the medical emergencies during pregnancy that will lead to the mother's death if abortion is not available? Is it OK that both perish? What about women who need medical care after a miscarriage, but find it is no longer available because of draconian anti-abortion laws? State legislatures passing laws abolishing abortion have shown they are woefully ignorant on these matters.

The issue of abortion is like no other — it demands a women's right to life be forfeited for a political cause. I challenge Will to provide examples in which all men are similarly demanded to forfeit their right to life.

Judy Zaunbrecher, Minneapolis


How to reckon with essential but debt-ridden workers?

Comments by recent letter writers on student loans speak for a small percentage of families of college students ("Canceling it would harm others, too," Readers Write, May 3). One group not mentioned includes all the teachers, professors, social workers, counselors, librarians and other professionals whose skills are necessary but who do not, as one writer claimed, "have a substantial working income advantage over their lifetimes and certainly don't need this 'relief.'"

Also, college costs have gone way up over the years. One example: A year that I spent at a Minnesota private college in 1960-61, including room and board, was $1,200; now it is over $40,000. That's an increase of over 30 times as much.

In the early 1960s one could totally finance all their own costs at the University of Minnesota by working on campus part time during the school year and full time in the summer — and graduate in four years. Those days are long gone.

Jim Lein, Minneapolis


In Thursday's article about canceling student debt ("Ellison calls for erasure of student loan debt,") Keith Ellison is quoted as saying, "My job is to help everyone afford their lives."

Ellison is the attorney general of Minnesota. His job is to enforce the law. I'm not sure whose job it is to "help everyone afford their lives." Even Santa Claus doesn't claim to do that.

Catherine Walker, Minneapolis


The way I see it, my son owes me roughly $90,000 for his college education.

If President Joe Biden should forgive college debt, how does my son apply so I get my money back?

Ray Pulles, Sun Lakes, Ariz.