Thursday, October 5, 2017
UN Ambassador Flounders to Explain U.S. Vote Against Rebuking the Use of the Death Penalty to Target LGBTQ People
Think Progress (Oct. 4, 2017): Haley tries, fails to explain UN vote against rebuking use of death penalty to target LGBTQ people, by Zack Ford:
The United Nations approved a resolution on Friday, September 29 condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory manner. The text of the resolution called for the death penalty to be banned "as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations."
The United States, however, voted against the resolution, along with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Only 13 out of 47 countries on the Human Rights Council voted against it.
A spokesperson for the State Department cited "broader concerns" about the resolution as the reason for the negative vote, specifying disagreement with the resolution's "approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances." UN Ambassador Nikki Haley took to twitter to claim that the vote was not one for "the death penalty for gay people," claiming that Friday's vote was the same as the U.S.'s vote on the same issue under the Obama administration. In 2014, however, the Obama administration abstained from the death penalty resolution, which is distinct from actively voting "no." Additionally, the language regarding same-sex relationships was a new addition to the resolution.
The rest of the resolution’s calls to action refer to how the death penalty is implemented, not whether it should be. It simply calls upon states that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not applied in a discriminatory way and to take all possible precautions to protect the civil rights of people who are facing that punishment.
The controversy surrounding this vote highlights the United States' isolation on the death penalty compared to the rest of the democratized world. Many studies have found the death penalty to be applied in a discriminatory manner across the world where it is still implemented, especially against racial minorities and economically-vulnerable people. In the U.S., 55% of those awaiting execution today are people of color, according to the ACLU.
While the resolution encouraged countries to sign a protocol that aims at abolishing the death penalty, it did not require it.
Monday, June 20, 2016
Rewire (June 15, 2016): TRAP Laws and the Abortion ‘Crisis’: A Conversation With Award-Winning Filmmaker Dawn Porter, by Tina Vasquez
Rewire talks with award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter about her new documentary feature, TRAPPED, which highlights the popular and pervasive TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) across the United States. Between 2010 and 2105, 288 laws regulating abortion services have passed. Porter's documentary illustrates the toll it takes on women in states like Alabama and Texas. Porter is candid about her thoughts about the impending SCOTUS decision, safety concerns when filming, and her reasoning for focusing on TRAP laws specifically:
People often discuss abortion in terms of morality, but that’s not what we should be talking about. The reason why these laws have been so effective is because they successfully harm the least powerful of the group they’re targeting. Who’s getting picked on, who’s suffering the most? Women of color, people who are low-income, people who don’t have health insurance. There’s something so unjust about how these laws are disproportionately affecting these populations, and that really bothered me. I’m certainly interested in abortion as a topic, but I’m also interested in politics and power and how those things take shape to hurt the most vulnerable.
TRAPPED airs on PBS’ Independent Lens on Monday, June 20th at 10:00pm.
Monday, January 11, 2016
Jezebel (Dec. 19, 2015): Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood is Still Closed, but the Protestors are Back, by Stassa Edwards:
The clinic has been closed since November 27 when Robert Lewis Dear walked in and opened fire on patients and staff. Though PP employees haven’t even entered the building since the shooting, anti-choice protesters replete with obligatory signage, stand on the corner outside of the closed clinic.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Associated Press (Dec. 22, 2015): Support for Legal Abortion at Highest Level in Two Years, by Nancy Benac and Emily Swanson:
Nearly six in 10 Americans — 58 percent — now think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, up from 51 percent who said so at the beginning of the year, according to the AP-GfK survey. It was conducted after three people were killed last month in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.
However, just over a third of Americans want laws on abortion to be stricter than they are now, the poll shows, while a quarter think they should be less strict.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
The New York Times op-ed: Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live, by Nick Loeb:
LAST August, I filed a complaint in Santa Monica, Calif., using pseudonyms, to protect two frozen embryos I created with my former fiancée. I wanted to keep this private, but recently the story broke to the world. It has gotten attention not only because of the people involved — my ex is Sofía Vergara, who stars in the ABC series “Modern Family” — but also because embryonic custody disputes raise important questions about life, religion and parenthood.
When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property? Does one person’s desire to avoid biological parenthood (free of any legal obligations) outweigh another’s religious beliefs in the sanctity of life and desire to be a parent? . . .
The New York Times - Public Editor's Journal: Frozen Embryos Article Was Intended to Spark Debate: Mission Accomplished, by Margaret Sullivan:
An Op-Ed essay titled “Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live” started to draw fire almost immediately after its publication Wednesday night.
The vehemence of reader criticism prompted me to ask Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor who supervises the opinion-side sections of The Times, for response. . . .
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
The New York Times editorial: A Perilous Year for Abortion Rights:
The start of 2015 finds no letup in the attacks on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own childbearing decisions. Republican lawmakers and organizations devoted to dismantling reproductive freedom have succeeded in shrinking the already inadequate number of abortion providers, making it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for women — especially young and poor women — to obtain safe and legal abortion services in large swaths Texas and other parts of the country. . . .
Friday, October 24, 2014
Elle: Ending the Silence That Fuels Abortion Stigma, by Cecile Richards:
It’s hard to imagine a medical procedure in this country that carries the stigma and judgment that abortion does. Women’s experiences are often seen through the lens of cultural and political battles. If a woman says that she’s relieved after having an abortion, she may be judged for being heartless or unfeeling. If she says that she feels regret, anti-abortion activists use this to push for laws that restrict access to abortion or laws that assume women are incapable of making their own decisions without the interference of others.
So instead, we just don’t talk about it. That’s how abortion came to be discussed as an “issue” instead of an experience. . . .
In ELLE's November issue, features director Laurie Abraham wrote a trenchant, honest essay about her abortions. Here, we share stories from other women who had abortions, to show that different women have different reasons for having an abortion, and that the procedure inspires all sorts of feelings—all of them, valid.
Friday, September 12, 2014
The New York Times op-ed: This Is What an Abortion Looks Like, by Merritt Tierce:
I MET Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator and Democratic candidate for governor, for the first time last week, and I told her how much it meant to me that she wasn’t afraid to talk about abortion. But we need a much larger conversation about abortion — one that also includes, without prejudice, the stories unlikely to generate much sympathy. Stories like mine.
Ms. Davis’s background feels familiar to me. She became a single mother at 19, her first marriage lasted only two years, and she worked as a receptionist and waitress until she could afford to go back to school. I had two children by the time I was 21, filed for divorce at 23, and worked as a secretary and waitress. Thanks to the support of friends and family, and especially my ex-husband, the father of my children, I was able to go back to school in 2009. And like Ms. Davis, I have also had two abortions. . . .
Saturday, June 28, 2014
The New York Times - opinion column: The Eggs and Us, by Gail Collins:
The Abortion Wars Rage On
Let’s talk personhood, people.
Personhood is an anti-abortion movement that holds that life begins at conception, giving fertilized eggs all the rights of a human being. It might make it impossible to kidnap them for in-vitro fertilization. It could outlaw some forms of contraception.
Senator Rand Paul claims every fertilized egg is protected by the 14th Amendment. Many current Senate candidates are personhood supporters, including Cory Gardner, who is running a very close race in Colorado against Mark Udall.
No! Wait! Wait! Cory Gardner just changed his mind. Obviously, this is going to take a little unraveling. Give me a minute. . . .
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The Wrap: Planned Parenthood Jumps Into ‘Obvious Child’ and NBC Abortion Flap, by Eric Czuleger:
Planned Parenthood is lashing out at NBC for refusing to air the trailer for Jenny Slate's new film,”Obvious Child.” The organization has launched an online petition to pressure the network into reversing its decision. . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Media Matters: For The Wall Street Journal, It's About Abortion Even When It Isn't, by Meagan Hatcher Mays:
The Wall Street Journal is celebrating a recent Supreme Court ruling that will allow an anti-choice activist group to challenge the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bans false statements in election campaigns, a state statute that is opposed by free speech advocates across the political spectrum. But the WSJ went on to erroneously argue that the false statement at issue in the case -- that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) funds abortions -- is actually true, because contraceptives are actually "abortifacients." . . .
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
NPR: Research: Children Of Judges May Influence Court Decisions, by Shankar Vedantam:
It's been suspected that judges are swayed by their personal beliefs and affiliations. An analysis found that judges become more likely to rule in "pro-feminist" ways if the judges have daughters. . . .
In this paper, we ask whether personal relationships can affect the way that judges decide cases. To do so, we leverage the natural experiment of a child's gender to identify the effect of having daughters on the votes of judges. Using new data on the family lives of U.S. Courts of Appeals judges, we find that, conditional on the number of children a judge has, judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons. This result survives a number of robustness tests and appears to be driven primarily by Republican judges. More broadly, this result demonstrates that personal experiences influence how judges make decisions, and it is the first paper to show that empathy may indeed be a component in how judges decide cases. . . .
Sunday, May 11, 2014
The link to Letts's essay is here:
Cosmopolitan: Why I Filmed My Own Abortion, by Emily Letts
TIME: Here's Why This Woman Filmed Her Own Abortion, by Charlotte Alter:
Emily Letts works as an abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey, so when she herself got unexpectedly pregnant, she didn’t take long to decide she would terminate the pregnancy.
It wasn’t a difficult decision for her, she wrote in a Cosmopolitanessay, because she knew she wasn’t ready to have kids. But Letts took it one step further– she decided to film the abortion to show other women that it wasn’t scary. . . .
The Huffington Post: Emily Letts' Abortion Video Garners Angry Reaction From Right-Wing Media, by Emily Thomas:
When Emily Letts found out she was pregnant last November she knew she would get an abortion. In an effort to help inform women facing a similar situation, the 25-year-old abortion counselor decided to film herself undergoing the procedure. Reactions to the award-winning clip, however, have been quite mixed. . . .
Monday, March 10, 2014
MSNBC: Meet the rebels of the anti-abortion movement, by Irin Carmon:
For the mainstream movement to ban abortion, graphic photos and aggressive language have generally gone out of style. The winning slogans, the ones Republican politicians prefer, are warmer, fuzzier: Thumbsucking ultrasound photos, or “women’s health” used as a pretext to shut down safe abortion clinics, including three in Texas this month alone. The losing slogans involve Akin-like “legitimate rape” and comparing Planned Parenthood to the Klan.
Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) begs to differ. Founded out of Norman, Oklahoma, and with chapters nationwide, AHA activists wear t-shirts emblazoned with “End Child Sacrifice” and proudly display photos of bloodied, fully developed fetuses. They protest outside churches – yes, churches – accusing them of not doing enough to end abortion, and talk scornfully of “pro-lifers” who make peace with rape exceptions to abortion bans. . . .
Friday, January 24, 2014
E! Online: Sarah Silverman and Jesus Chat About Abortion, Women's Reproductive Rights—Watch Now, by Rebecca Macatee:
Sarah Silverman might've known that a PSA with her "Jesus f--king Christ" talking about abortions would get people's attention.
And just why is God's son (an actor portraying Him, actually) paying her a visit in this controversial YouTube clip? To discuss women's reproductive rights and specifically to talk about access to safe abortions in the state of Texas. . . .
Monday, December 9, 2013
The New York Times editorial: When Bishops Direct Medical Care:
Beyond new state efforts to restrict women’s access to proper reproductive health care, another, if quieter, threat is posed by mergers between secular hospitals and Catholic hospitals operating under religious directives from the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. These directives, which oppose abortions, inevitably collide with a hospital’s duty to provide care to pregnant women in medical distress. This tension lies at the heart of a federal lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union. . . .
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Media Matters: Fox Uses Hobby Lobby Case To Falsely Call Morning-After Pill Abortion, by Brian Powell & Samantha Wyatt:
Fox News repeatedly conflated the emergency contraceptive Plan B (also known as the morning-after pill) with abortion while covering two Supreme Court cases brought by companies that object to the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control coverage benefits. However, experts agree that the morning-after pill is not abortion -- it prevents pregnancy but cannot stop pregnancy after fertilization takes place. . . .
Monday, November 11, 2013
The New York Times: Using Humor to Talk About Birth Control, by Tanzina Vega:
FEW things may be less comfortable to talk about with one’s parents than sex and birth control, and with that in mind, a new public service campaign hopes to offer guidance through a series of ads and online videos. . . .
Saturday, September 28, 2013
The New York Times: Rights Groups and Clinics Sue Texas Over Provisions in Its New Abortion Law, by Erik Eckholm
The Washington Post: Texas abortion providers sue over new limits, by Juliet Eilperin
NPR - The Two-Way blog: Women's Health Groups Sue Texas Over Its New Abortion Law, by Bill Chappell
MSNBC: Planned Parenthood takes Texas abortion laws to court, by Irin Carmon
Texas isn't the only state to have passed these kinds of restrictions recently, and indeed courts have already blocked similar restrictions elsewhere. Admitting privileges requirements have been enjoined in Mississippi, Alabama, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Laws requiring adherence to the outdated FDA protocol for medication abortions were enjoined in North Dakota and Oklahoma (in a case the Supreme Court may review this term), although a federal appeals court upheld Ohio's similar law in 2012.
Texas's law is unique, however, in combining so many different restrictions in one measure (North Dakota went on a similar rampage this year but passed its restrictions in piecemeal fashion). Additionally, state senator Wendy Davis's famous filibuster of the omnibus bill helped to focus the nation's attention on Texas. Finally, the bill would have a Texas-sized impact if allowed to take effect: as many as one-third of the state's clinics could be forced to close, leaving large areas of the state without a provider.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Slate: Fetal Fact Check, by William Saletan:
The doctors cited by pro-lifers say their fetal pain research doesn’t support abortion bans
In much of this country, over the last three years, pro-lifers have banned abortions 20 weeks after fertilization. They’ve justified these bans by asserting—contrary to the most authoritativestudies—that fetuses at this stage of development can feel pain. Their assertions, in turn, are based on research by several doctors. But the doctors don’t buy the pro-lifers’ conclusions. They say their research doesn’t support the bans. . . .
Here's what William Saletan gets right in this column: The science supporting claims that human fetuses can perceive pain at 20 weeks after fertilization is weak. Here's where he goes on irrelevant tangents:
(1) Dr. Kanwaljeet J. S. Anand, apparently the only known researcher who believes fetuses can feel pain at this stage, also believes "that 'fetal pain does not have much relevance for abortion, since most abortions are performed before the fetus is capable of experiencing pain.'" Who cares? If fetal pain marks the (moral) point at which abortion should be banned, why does it matter how few abortions are implicated? Any abortion after that stage, proponents would argue, is immoral and should be banned.
(2) Dr. Anand believes that his research does not support post-20-week abortion bans. (Anand says that pain could be averted through anesthesia or causing a quick fetal demise before beginning the abortion procedure.) Again, so what? This point seems to misapprehend how anti-choice activists are using Anand's research. They claim that the ability to perceive pain marks a moral threshold of human development sufficiently significant that abortion should not be permitted after this point. That might be an important moral claim meriting a response (if not necessarily agreement), if the science backed up their assertions. But while Anand believes fetuses can perceive pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization, he is contradicted by numerous other experts who conclude otherwise. The best evidence suggests that a human fetus's ability to perceive pain does not occur before fetal viability, after which states can already ban abortions under Roe v. Wade.
(3) There is a "gap" between the claim that fetuses feel pain and the claim that abortions should be banned, since pain could be addressed in ways other than banning abortion. While this is absolutely true, it fails to take the anti-choice argument seriously. As explained above, anti-choice activists obviously do not believe that abortion is morally acceptable so long as fetuses don't feel pain. They are asserting that fetal pain is a critical marker of human development: once a fetus can feel pain, it has reached the stage where it is morally unacceptable to kill it. Saletan describes the "gap" between (doubtful) assertions of fetal pain and banning abortion as a "sleight of hand." But he overlooks the real deception. Anti-choice activists will not be content with banning abortions at 20 weeks. For these activists, pain perception is not in fact the definitive moral milestone that they claim it is. Their ultimate goal is to ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, when the pre-embryo can scarcely be seen with the naked eye. The question of fetal pain is thus totally irrelevant to their moral claims. They are simply trying to get the public to move one smallish step with them toward their ultimate goal, without reminding the public of what that goal really is.