Justus Ramsey House, abortion, health care, social media

Review Editor’s Note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters readers online and in print every day. To contribute, click here.


Old buildings tell the stories of the people who built and used them. In the case of the threatened Justus Ramsey House of 1852, these stories are more important than ever to Saint Paul today (“The 1852 cottage is part of black history in St. Paul,” October 28). In fact, they are important to all of us.

I’m chairman of the Duluth Historic Preservation Commission. Like Saint-Paul, our city is full of historic buildings, and we, too, strive to preserve them. It’s a shame we can’t save them all. But the Justus Ramsey House is the one that must be preserved. Now that research shows the cottage has a decades-long connection to St. Paul’s black history, its story becomes much bigger than the small structure.

For 40 years, the building housed railroad porters, black women entrepreneurs and servants. Almost all of the first Pullman porters were freed slaves. The Civil War ended just as George Pullman was launching his new, more civilized concept of rail travel. Although being paid for the work was a welcome change, porters were more indentured servants of the company. That is why the first organized, but secret, black union in America was the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Duluth has had victories and defeats in preserving its past. When Interstate 35 threatened Endion Depot Station (built in 1899), it was moved to Canal Park and reused. But Branch’s Hall, the city’s first brick building (from 1872), has been lost.

Old buildings are treasures that preserve their stories. Unfortunately, most fade and are lost once the building is gone. Please save Justus Ramsey’s house.

Ken Buehler, Duluth

The author is general manager of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.


As a 62-year-old woman, I was kindly harassed with pro-life literature on the way to my eye exam, which shares a building with a women’s clinic. As a lifelong practicing Catholic, my faith is very important to me and my heart goes out to these well-meaning but misguided protesters. I know many of them would love to help the poor and vulnerable as our faith calls us to (better go with the Democrats), but they feel compelled to vote Republican to save these unborn babies. I love unborn babies as much as anyone, but my question for these people is, “In what world do we want to force women to give birth?” It seems that our world is turning in this direction, but do we have the right to impose our religious beliefs about life from conception on all of humanity? The way I think about it is that although a separate human being, the child is still the life of the woman in her body, and if for some reason she needs to end the life growing inside her inside herself is her own very sad decision. I use the term “misguided” above because I believe that the energy and time spent harassing women who come to a clinic could be more helpful to unborn children if people used it to help create a better world that sustains them after they are born.

Sandra Boes O’Brien, Minneapolis


A writer from the October 28 Star Tribune claimed that a fetus is not part of a woman’s body (“Not your body, not your choice”). He said: “We all know that every cell in a person’s body has exactly the same DNA”, and since fetal DNA is different from a woman’s, it is not part of her body. His argument is based on a false premise, and his biological conclusion about abortion is also false. There are many examples of genetic mosaicism, and the fact is that not all of anyone’s cells have exactly the same DNA. There may be valid arguments against abortion, but his argument is not.

(There are many references available on this point. This one is written for the layman: tinyurl.com/genetic-mosaicism.)

Jim Haemmerle, Savage

The author is a retired physician.


Words are important. In the October 28 article, eight doctors say they “know unequivocally that access to abortion is healthcare”. Other people, like me, say they know unequivocally that a human being develops in the womb. What if, as a compromise, we all agree to authorize abortion in the situations mentioned by the doctors: cases of rape and incest, patients suffering from diseases requiring drugs which cannot be taken during pregnancy, pregnancies at risk of threatening hemorrhage and life-threatening fetal conditions? For the other 90% (95%?) of pregnancies, would these doctors provide health care for developing human life? Would they protect him? Would they even call it a human life, dependent on the mother, but still a full human life?

Ray Dick, Bloomington


Contrary to the position taken in the main letter to the editor on October 28 (“Abortion is not in question. Vote GOP”), nothing in the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which stripped all women of the constitutional right to abortion, would prevent the federal government from banning abortion nationwide. Indeed, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has proposed legislation that would do just that. My guess is that if the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress, they will pass a bill banning abortion in one form or another. If Republicans win non-veto majorities, this legislation will become law.

After recently seeing what Republican appointees to the court have repeatedly described as a well-established precedent overturned at the first opportunity, I take no comfort in Republican assurances now that a similar precedent in Minnesota has set. the question to the point of being theoretical. Let there be no doubt, abortion is a central issue in our politics both in the state and nationally, and those who try to convince us otherwise are engaging in a bold act of deception.

Jon F. Miners, Crystal


The Star Tribune editorial of November 3 “Health plan bargains abound again in 2023” Reminds me of “Alice in Wonderland”. Let me back up a bit. It’s good that we have the Affordable Care Act and MNsure to help make health insurance less unaffordable. However, is it reasonable to call something a bargain that is as overpriced and dysfunctional as US health insurance? The facts show that American health care has placed the United States 46th for longevity in the world. On average, an American citizen lives six years less than a resident of the No. 1 nation. At the same time, health care in the United States is about twice as expensive as the best care in other countries. modern. Good health insurance should cover all major medical issues and avoid financial ruin. In the United States, insurance companies are allowed to sell policies that make health care debt the leading cause of personal bankruptcy. Good health insurance must allow you to be treated by the doctor and hospital of your choice. Instead, most US health insurance policies restrict which doctor and hospital one can use.

The editorial would more accurately be titled: “MNsure offers help in finding cheaper, often inadequate, insurance in a dysfunctional and overpriced market.”

Mark Brakke, Coon Rapids

The writer is a doctor.


There is so much angst and twist on social media status (“State Twitter Users Wary of Changes” November, 1st). There are a few options that don’t seem to be discussed. The first is to uninstall the app from your phone and computer. The other is to boycott the use of these apps for a certain time (day, week, month). Social media makes a lot of money from advertising based on user clicks. Not making so much money could be effective in getting their attention to make changes for the better.

Gary Seim, Minneapolis


Quitting Twitter may seem difficult at first because you’ve been conditioned to voice any thoughts you might have at any given time to anyone who listens to you. In its place, simply write a letter to the editor.

Mary Alice Divine, White Bear Lake