Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


When leaving the memorial service for Walter Mondale on Sunday, I heard others saying just what I was feeling, too — how remarkable the occasion had been ("'A man devoted to freedom and fairness,'" May 2). "Remarkable" means that people remark on it, and everyone was. Despite the sad occasion and cold drizzle, they were speaking enthusiastically, like an audience that's just seen a great play.

When an event feels that special, you try to figure out why. And then it comes to you.

There was no rancor. A number of important politicians spoke in turn to a huge audience including many hundreds of other politicians, mostly of their own party. And yet no one said anything bad about anyone else. No person or cause was insulted or scorned. The speeches were uniformly optimistic and clearly meant not for some but for all.

In America today, this truly is remarkable — in either party. One can recall senatorial funerals less healing.

And it is itself the fitting tribute to Mondale, who was always a centrist.

He was also of course a partisan politician who served and led the Democratic Party. He fought for it passionately, but not angrily. As much as he loved his own party, he revered the two-party system. And he believed that both parties should reach out as broadly as possible. He could criticize the policies of his opponents, but that was not personal, nor was it expressed as such.

When he sought the presidency, some were critical that he wasn't more of an attack dog.

"Where's the beef?" was as tough as it got. Because his instincts, like his manner, were civil and inclusive. It is the absence of those virtues that is so corrosive to our nation today.

Mondale flourished in a time of large, inclusive political parties that won elections through principle and compromise, and above all through respect for the voters — all of them.

If we continue to retreat from that in both parties, we will not again have leaders like the one we honored last Sunday. Nor the kind of country we have known.

David Lebedoff, Minneapolis


My older son was 4 years old when we moved back to Minnesota, and he was enthralled by the presidents of the United States owing to a presidential placement I had purchased at the LBJ Presidential Library. Minnesota Public Radio was hosting a 30th anniversary retrospective on Mondale's nomination for president in 2014 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. I saw the ad in the Star Tribune, and Anders lept at the chance to attend as he was now learning all of the vice presidents, too.

My 4-year-old sat patiently in the pews and listened to the interview with Mondale. Then we waited in line to get an autograph of a real-life vice president, which he hoped would go next to his Mickey and Minnie Mouse autographs from Disney World. As interested as he was, Anders was still just 4, and I asked the person minding the line if we could cut, which he allowed. Mondale was so nice and engaging, he bent down on a knee to Anders' level and took a treasured picture with him.

The next winter I heard that former President Jimmy Carter was speaking at the Nobel conference in Minneapolis. Tickets were sold out, so I e-mailed Mondale asking if he could help. I also sent along a copy of "The Peterson Doctrine," Anders' political treatise that he had written in kindergarten to sweeten the ask. Mondale gave us complimentary tickets to hear Carter speak, fulfilling another of my son's goals to see a real president in person.

This correspondence led to years of taking classes of my high school students to Mondale's office at Dorsey & Whitney to discuss foreign policy and domestic politics as a capstone to our course. And, at some point during those visits, he would ask about the little president in my house.

Jon R. Peterson, Eagan


Doubtful that other rights won't fall

Justice Samuel Alito's draft Supreme Court opinion says Roe v. Wade must be overturned because at the time Roe was decided abortion was not "deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition." He reached this conclusion by noting past laws that made abortion a crime. This, however, is men's history and tradition, as men made all the laws. Women's history gives a different outcome. Women couldn't even vote, let alone enact laws during the years cited by Alito. Once women got the vote, abortion laws began to change. One-third of states had some form of legalized abortion by 1973. More importantly, women had networks to obtain abortions whenever it was illegal. These networks were necessarily secret since everyone involved could be arrested.

One of my uncles was raised by a woman who was the town's abortionist. This was in the early 1900s in South Dakota. He knew many of the girls and women who came. Even on his 100th birthday, my uncle spoke to me about the need to keep abortion legal. He was not a radical leftist. He just knew firsthand that abortions will happen. The only question is whether they will be secretive and dangerous or legal and safe.

Alito correctly states that the word "abortion" is not found in the Constitution — but neither are the words "fetus," "embryo," "potential life" or "preborn human being." Yet Alito uses those words to justify his decision and to assure us that other rights — such as same-sex marriage — will not be affected. The fact that abortion involves an embryo or fetus is a statement of fact, not a legal analysis. The legal framework of this draft will most definitely apply to other rights. And in situations that involve a fetus, how will this analysis be used? Will states now be free to pass laws criminalizing the behavior of pregnant women in the name of protecting the fetus?

Janet Werness, Minneapolis


Prof. Laura Hermer's argument for unrestricted abortion comes straight from the tyrant's handbook: To rationalize treating a human being inhumanely, begin by dehumanizing that person ("Pregnant people have rights. Products of conception don't," Opinion Exchange, May 5). Slave owners justified slavery by considering Black slaves not as human beings but as "property." Nazis justified the slaughter of Jews and the mentally disabled by labeling them as "lebensunwertes leben" ("life unworthy of life"). Hermer defends the destruction of pre-born life by referring to it not as life but as "a product of conception." At least President Joe Biden was more accurate and honest (albeit unintentionally so) when he said earlier this week that the Supreme Court would go "way overboard" if it took away a woman's ability "to choose to abort a child."

Stan Weese, Brooklyn Park


In a letter to the editor in Wednesday's Star Tribune, a reader called attention to what she sees as the irony of a clinic that provides abortions posting quotes from famous women, writing sardonically that "[t]he first requirement for becoming a famous woman is not to be aborted." Well, equally, the first requirement for becoming a deranged, murderous dictator is not to be aborted.

I'd say that this argument comes to a draw at best.

Robert Dana, Minneapolis


When Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, it caused a great deal of upheaval. Now that it appears it may fall, another wave of upheaval is expected. This is because abortion is just another violent answer to life's problems. Like the death penalty, war, the proliferation of guns, cruelty to humans and animals and all other forms of violence, things only get worse — they don't get better.

When Feminists for Life was founded 50 years ago, our goal was to see that every girl and woman would never have to choose between her child and her career, a good education and the full support she deserves from family, friends and society. Hopefully when the Supreme Court makes its final decision, we can look for nonviolent, life-affirming answers to unplanned pregnancies.

Kay Kemper, Crystal