Years ago at a garage sale in Kansas, I discovered a well-worn Little Blue Book on family planning authored by Margaret Sanger in the early 20th century. It reminded me that Sanger was sent to jail for the crime of helping women plan their pregnancies.

Legal access to contraception allowed women to plan the size and timing of their families. Thanks to all of the years of information and accessible family planning offered by Planned Parenthood, women have opportunities unimaginable to earlier generations. The recent video attack on Planned Parenthood is the latest attempt to ban abortion and abolish funding for the organization.

For a woman facing an unplanned or threatening pregnancy, abortion is not a desirable choice, but it may be the best choice.

Planned Parenthood is the most trusted women’s health care provider in this country and has been for nearly 100 years. One in five women has turned to Planned Parenthood for health care, regardless of ability to pay.

Even if we disagree about abortion, all of us who care about children should nonetheless work together tirelessly to make sure that children have all the things they need to grow up and become good citizens and neighbors.

Ruth Johnson, St. Peter, Minn.

The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House.

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Finally the Star Tribune decides to print something about the recent Planned Parenthood horrors, if only to mention proudly that our two senators voted against defunding this dreadful organization (front page, Aug. 4). I am sickened, saddened and outraged at their vote regarding human life being treated with no respect, dissected and sold to the highest bidder! Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the Senate floor to give a passionate speech about being taken back to the 1950s. Well, Sen. Warren, back in the ’50s when I was growing up, we respected human life quite a bit more, we were brought up in Sunday school and church, respected authority, said the Pledge of Allegiance and opened school with a prayer.

I was met with an unexpected pregnancy 53 years ago. I chose adoption. Four years ago, I was reunited with my son, who is a pillar in his community. He is a fire chief, first responder, wonderful husband and father. His contributions have been numerous! What would the world have been without him?

Connie Sambor, Plymouth



Perspective on life in Zimbabwe: Good context? Missed the point?

What a tremendous service the Opinion Exchange page offers its readers. Thabani Nyoni’s Aug. 4 commentary (“Forgive our lack of concern for Cecil the hero”) provides a thoughtful response to the inflamed media environment caused by the recent killing of a protected lion in Zimbabwe. Nyoni reflects on his, and innumerable others’, difficulties in surviving that country’s double standard of wildlife harvesting.

Perhaps the only good result to come from this tragedy is our new recognition of the hypocrisy of outrage if it does not reflect the reality of a nation’s human citizens, together with its animal populations.

Lori Wagner Hollenkamp, Mendota Heights

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Nyoni makes a good case for international attention to the desperate poverty in his country, but he falls into the same trap that too many others do — declaring that we must select one evil over another as the only appropriate target for action.

In this case, another intellectually dishonest defense of trophy hunting is a flippant dismissal of concern about hunting as sport simply because nature itself is cruel — those nasty large-game animals prey on and eat each other alive. But Cecil’s den did not sport the heads of zebra he attacked for food. Cecil was created to feed himself without a way to do so “humanely.”

As human beings, I believe we have the capacity, indeed the obligation, to consider and take action on multiple evils, as well as the kindness to kill sentient beings honorably. Cecil will not have died in vain if we choose to raise consciousness about how we treat all of life on Earth.

Shawn Gilbert, Bloomington

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If you had asked me two weeks ago to name the finest dentist in the Twin Cities area, I would have replied, without any hesitation: Walter J. Palmer, my dentist for 15 years.

As you know, Palmer is currently a pariah, in hiding, with a reported half-million protesters screaming for his hide in response to his killing of the protected male lion Cecil in Africa.

I have no sympathy for trophy hunting and was only vaguely aware of Palmer’s participation in that activity. I did know that he was a successful bow-and-arrow hunter, and I want to believe his stated assumption that the professional outfitter and lead hunter had secured the necessary legal permits and licenses.

On a professional level, Palmer excels, with a national reputation among his peers. He has a very successful practice, with state-of-the-art equipment. I found him to be exceedingly skillful and a principled, ethical person as well. For example, when a procedure didn’t go as planned, there was no charge for that office visit and subsequent visits that corrected the problem.

I am especially concerned regarding the collateral damage to Palmer’s large, wonderful staff, whose employment has been suspended and possibly terminated because of this tragic incident.

John O’Leary, Bloomington



Letter writer’s impressions of MSHSL policy were off the mark

An Aug. 1 letter suggested that Minnesota State High School League policy was behind a decline in officials. As MSHSL coordinator of officials, I’d like to address the writer’s inaccuracies.

He indicated that we have eliminated area meetings that focus on rule changes and have replaced them with a “mandatory all-day session.” That is incorrect. We have replaced area meetings with online meetings to get our officials the most up-to-date rule references, points of emphasis and mechanics changes. We do not require a mandatory all-day session for any official in any sport. What we do require is that our officials attend an evening mechanics clinic once every three years. Mechanics and rules change, so we believe it is important for our officials to receive that training to keep current regarding what’s new in that particular sport. We owe it to the kids who play the games to, at a minimum, maintain our standards of officiating. Many of our officials go out of their way to improve their game at clinics that are provided by other officiating groups, and those officials get credit for attending.

The mechanics clinics that we provide are from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on a variety of weekdays and are scattered throughout the state so that each part of the state will be covered in that three-year rotation. An official who does not register for a clinic after that three-year period will drop a level in our system. They do not drop to probationary status, as the writer suggested. They will only drop to probationary after not attending a clinic when they are at Level I. So, if they are a Level III official, it will take seven years without attending a clinic before they are moved to “not qualified” status, which takes an official off the court or field.

As a former coach and player, I don’t feel it is unreasonable to expect any official to brush up on his or her skills every three years. Our kids deserve it.

Jason Nickleby, Brooklyn Center