Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is to blame for the deaths of millions in Nazi concentration camps, according to 21-year-old reality TV star Jessa Duggar.
“I walked through the Holocaust Museum again today,” she wrote in post on Instagram, “very sobering. Millions of innocents denied the most basic and fundamental of all rights–their right to life. One human destroying the life of another deemed ‘less than human.’ Racism, stemming from the evolutionary idea that man came from something less than human; that some people groups are ‘more evolved’ and others ‘less evolved.’ A denying that our Creator–GOD–made us human from the beginning, all of ONE BLOOD and ONE RACE, descendants of Adam. The belief that some human beings are ‘not fit to live.’”
Duggar, whose family is featured in TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, compared the Nazi death camps to abortion in the United States.
“So they’re murdered,” she wrote. “Slaughtered. Kids with Down syndrome or other disabilities. The sickly. The elderly. The sanctity of human life varies not in sickness or health, poverty or wealth, elderly or pre-born, little or lots of melanin [making you darker or lighter skinned], or any other factor. ‘If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:10-12) May we never sit idly by and allow such an atrocity to happen again. Not this generation. We must be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Because EVERY LIFE IS PRECIOUS. #ProLife”
On her Instagram account, Duggar also said she visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky. She claimed that the fossil record proved that the biblical story of the great flood was true.
“If there really was a worldwide flood (as the Bible speaks of), what would the evidence be? Billions of dead things buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth,” she wrote. “And that’s exactly what we find. Billions of dead things buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth. An Evolutionist and a Creationist will look at the same thing, but come to different conclusions because of their different starting points.”
Jessa’s comments about abortion reflect her parents conservative Christian beliefs. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have previously compared abortion in the United States to the Holocaust.
“A couple of weeks after we went to the Holocaust Museum it dawned on us that there is a Holocaust taking place right here in America! More than 56 million lives have been destroyed in our country! That is over 4000 babies being killed and 4000 women being wounded each day,” her parents wrote in a blog post last year.
Jim Bob Duggar also compared the United States to Nazi Germany in a 2013 speech to the Values Voter Summit.
Source: Eric W. Dolan for The Raw Story
TLC, cancel 19KAC now!
Reality TV personality Jessa Duggar took to Instagram last week to share her reflections upon exiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.: It reminded her of abortion.
While the Duggars enjoy a reputation as a kooky extra-large family on their TLC show 19 Kids and Counting, the reality is that they’re part of the extreme Christian patriarchy movement, which requires that women not use birth control and submit to the authority of their husbands. Part of that ideology centers on a Quiverfull lifestyle, which instructs women to have as many children as possible to serve as arrows in their quiver, so they may be part of a fight for Christian domination. In the Quiverfull universe, and in the Duggar household, feminism is the enemy of the family. Duggar mom Michelle herself believes that “being financially independent” is how a wife “destroy[s] her husband’s manliness,” because “whoever controls the money controls the leadership” (and that should be the husband). Wives also destroy their husband’s manliness “by resisting his physical affection” — in other words, by saying no to sex if you don’t want to have sex at that particular moment. Dressing immodestly — not being covered from your neck to your knees — is a form of “defrauding,” or “stirring up desires that cannot be righteously fulfilled.”
Jessa’s Instagram isn’t the first time a Duggar has compared abortion to the Holocaust: Michelle did the same thing last year.
The Holocaust killed 6 million Jews — two-thirds of all the Jews in Europe at the time — and another 5 million victims, including gay people, European Roma (gypsies), communists, and people with disabilities. Those millions of people were herded into camps, where they were ritually exterminated if they weren’t worked to death; some were used as subjects in gruesome human experiments before being murdered.
Abortion in the United States is a legal medical procedure that 1 in 3 women will have before she turns 45. Nine in 10 abortions happen in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, well before fetal viability. Safe abortion access has helped to drive down maternal mortality, and illegal, unsafe abortion remains a leading killer of pregnant women. Legal abortion saves women’s lives.
Regardless of how one feels about the morality of abortion though, comparing it to one of the greatest horrors in modern history is insensitive and clueless, to say the least. And the comparison wasn’t a casual, thoughtless one — Jessa had just walked out of the Holocaust museum, and instead of absorbing the scale of that atrocity, decided to make a point about abortion rights. That’s not just tone-deaf; it’s deranged. And it does bring to light just how extreme — and out of touch — the Duggar family values actually are. If only we didn’t reward them with a quirky reality show that whitewashes their radical views.
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Providers in neighboring states are bracing for an influx in out-of-state patients.
As a harsh new abortion restriction is about to take effect in Missouri, clinics in neighboring states are preparing for an influx of women crossing the border to get the reproductive care they need.
Two weeks ago, Missouri lawmakers overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) veto of a 72-hour abortion waiting period, ensuring that the policy will go into place in October. The new law triples the state’s former 24-hour waiting period and doesn’t have any exemptions for victims of rape or incest.
Since there’s only one abortion clinic left in Missouri — located in St. Louis — the additional two day wait may pose too much of a barrier for the women who have to travel more than 100 miles to get there, particularly if they can’t afford a stay in a hotel or an additional lengthy round trip. Some of those women may instead opt to travel to Illinois or Kansas, where there isn’t such a lengthy waiting period before they’re allowed to have the procedure. Illinois doesn’t require women to wait for any length of time before an abortion, and Kansas’ waiting period is 24 hours long.
The closest option is in Granite City, Illinois, where there’s an abortion clinic just about 15 minutes from Missouri’s sole provider. Dr. Erin King, the associate medical director there, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she may hire more staff if necessary to accommodate a rise in out-of-state patients. “We are prepared to handle women from Missouri that come over the river from Missouri because of the restrictions,” King said.
“We definitely know that this law is coming,” Julie Burkhart, who runs an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas, added. “We certainly expect that this law is going to be a hardship for women and it’s clear that this law is meant to do nothing but block access when it comes to abortion care.”
This dynamic is hardly unexpected. Last year, when the legislature was first considering the 72-hour waiting period, reproductive rights advocates argued that the measure may actually represent an indirect method of ending abortion in the state of Missouri. Writer Robin Marty pointed out that if women all start going to Granite City, abortion opponents will have won a significant symbolic victory. “If it simply becomes that much more convenient to leave the state, the Missouri legislature will have accomplished what multiple states have been itching to do — be the first to eliminate abortion access in the state altogether,” she wrote last winter.
Across the country, this has played out over and over again as states have passed increasingly harsh restrictions limiting women’s access to the procedure. These state-level abortion restrictions are designed to force women drive farther to get to a clinic, make additional trips to the same provider before finally completing the procedure, and ultimately pay higher prices for their abortion. Those mounting hurdles mean that women’s reproductive rights are becoming dependent on their zip code.
As one abortion provider in Maryland put it last year, when stringent laws in Pennsylvania led to an increase in out-of-state patients at her clinic, “As long as there are clinics, you could make the argument that there is access, but the question is, how Herculean of an effort does one have to put forth in order to gain that access?”
Plus, this points to the fact that state-level abortion laws need to considered in a national context. The implications of new anti-choice restrictions aren’t contained within a single state’s border, particularly if abortion opponents are going after a state that serves a large portion of patients from other places.
That’s exactly what’s currently threatening to unfold in Tennessee, where anti-abortion activists are attempting to mobilize support for a ballot initiative that would roll back access to abortion in one of the last states in the region where women can still manage to end a pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four abortions performed in Tennessee are sought by a resident of a different state.
Cristina was 18 years old when something went wrong with her pregnancy. Her family found her in the bathroom, unconscious and covered in blood, and rushed her to a hospital. When she got there, hospital staff asked her, “Why did you kill your child?” She was sentenced to 30 years in prison for trying to have an illegal abortion.
That’s just one of the stories collected in a new report about a country with one of the harshest abortion bans in the world. Cristina lives in El Salvador, where abortion is illegal for any reason — even in cases where it’s necessary to save a woman’s life — and where women are frequently jailed for illegally ending their pregnancies.
Officials from Amnesty International, the group that released the report on Thursday, call the grim reality facing women in El Salvador “truly shocking and akin to torture.” And disturbingly, there are aspects of El Salvador’s policies that resemble what’s facing some pregnant people in the United States.
“One way in which El Salvador is very different from other countries with complete bans on abortions is this demonstrated record of going out and prosecuting women,” Larry Ladutke, who serves as the country’s specialist at Amnesty International, told ThinkProgress in an interview. “That includes women and girl who are accused of having had an abortion, but also women and girls who have had miscarriages and are then charged with aggravated homicide.”
In El Salvador, women like Cristina can be sentenced to decades in prison after being charged with killing a family member, which carries a harsher sentence than other types of homicide. Often, there’s no clear evidence they actually did anything to cause harm to their fetuses; miscarriage, after all, is a relatively common experience for pregnant women. Human rights lawyers have been working to overturn the sentences on those grounds. Cristina served four years before her own sentence was thrown out.
While that’s certainly extreme, it’s not entirely unheard of in the developed world. Here in the U.S., even though abortion is legal under most circumstances, women are increasingly being charged under allegations that they intentionally harmed their pregnancies. This can occur if a woman is accused of using drugs while she is pregnant, even if there’s no scientific evidence that the drug will pose long-term harm to the fetus. It can also occur in cases when women are suspected of having an illegal abortion.
In one recent case in Mississippi, for example, a 16-year-old mother faced a potential life sentence for giving birth to a stillborn child. She was accused of “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously” causing her child’s death by using cocaine, even though it’s not clear that cocaine poses a risk to pregnancy outcomes in the first place. In another case in Montana, a woman was charged with child endangerment when she was just 12 weeks pregnant, effectively blurring the lines between women’s rights and fetuses’ rights.
That’s why advocates argue that the trend of criminalizing pregnant women — there are “fetal homicide” laws on the books in 38 U.S. states, and they’re increasingly used to prosecute women for their own behavior during pregnancy — represents a dangerous threat. Just like in El Salvador, they make women more vulnerable for prosecution simply because of their gender.
“They violate people’s rights, and even more so women’s rights, because a man is never going to have a miscarriage,” Cristina told Amnesty International in an interview included in the new report. “This has got to be underlined: the issue is women’s inequality.”
The dynamic also has a serious impact on women’s ability to seek medical care. According to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 40 percent of the women who have illegal abortions experience complications that require follow-up treatment. But if they’re worried about getting in trouble with the law, they might not want to show up at a hospital asking for help.
“Medical professionals in El Salvador have been filing complaints and providing evidence against women who they suspect of having had an abortion,” Ladutke told ThinkProgress. “So then it becomes a question: Do I go to the doctor and risk going to jail, or do I wait and see and potentially risk my life?”
Doctors here in the United States also may notify authorities if they suspect a woman did something to illegally end her pregnancy. A woman in Indiana, for example, is currently facing decades in prison after she sought treatment in a hospital for a miscarriage. Her doctors called the police, who found her fetus in a dumpster. A women in Pennsylvania is currently serving jail time for giving her daughter abortion-inducing drugs that she bought online, something she didn’t realize was illegal at the time. Although her daughter didn’t have any adverse side effects, a doctor reported them to the state’s child-protective services when she sought follow-up treatment for the bleeding that can result from either this type of abortion or from a miscarriage.
Ladutke pointed out that women should not have to fear going to her doctor and seeking emergency attention after having a clandestine abortion. Medical experts make the same arguments about women here in the U.S., who are increasingly being dissuaded from seeking medical treatment because of the laws that threaten to criminalize pregnancy. “If we want pregnant women to obtain prenatal care and drug-treatment therapies, they have to trust that a trip to the doctor won’t end with the police at her doorstep,” reproductive health activists in Montana pointed out after the arrest of the pregnant woman who was just 12 weeks along.
“No one should have a criminal record for having had an abortion,” Ladutke, whose organization is hoping to put international pressure on the Salvadoran government to relax its abortion ban and review the cases of the women who still imprisoned, said. But with an increasing number of U.S. states finding ways to prosecute women for their pregnancy outcomes, that’s not necessarily a guarantee here at home either.
He’s a mega-rich member of the New York financial class who backs the Tea Party and rails against “elites.” He spends millions at a time funding extreme anti-government, anti-choice groups including the Susan B. Anthony List and Americans United for Life. He’s set up nonprofits that seem to act as pass-throughs for rivers of campaign cash.
And his last name is not Koch.
Since 2010, Sean Fieler, a New Jersey-based hedge fund manager and fervent Catholic, has personally contributed nearly $18 million to political candidates and causes that align with his anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and pro-theocracy views, quietly cementing himself as the ATM for the most extreme elements of the fundamentalist Christian and Catholic political machine, according to an analysis of tax filings and campaign finance records by RH Reality Check.“It’s enough money that folks ought to know who he has given to.”
Due to the opaque nature of federal and state disclosure laws, it’s impossible to know exactly how much any individual has given to political candidates, causes, and committees. Experts told RH Reality Check, however, that $18 million places Fieler among the upper tier of political givers in the United States.
“Whether he’s in the top ten or top 20, it’s impossible to say,” said Dale Eisman, spokesperson for Common Cause, a nonpartisan good government group. “It’s enough money that folks ought to know who he has given to.”
Fieler did not respond to RH Reality Check’s requests for an interview, but our analysis of his public statements and financial contributions paints a picture of a man with extremely deep convictions, and the pockets to match. He has sprinkled funds amongst at least 77 candidates throughout 19 states, has almost single-handedly created a pass-through entity for funding extreme Catholic and Christian groups, and has laid the foundation for a policy center that appears intended to influence the Republican Party to bring ultra-conservative views to the center of its policies.
“When it comes to what are euphemistically referred to as the ‘social issues,’ we promise not to talk about life and marriage, the literal future and irreplaceable foundation of our society,” Fieler told his audience at last year’s annual gala for one of the nonprofits that he funds, the American Principles Project. “To win, we need but make one change, to emphasize, rather than run away from our principles.”
So ubiquitous is Fieler’s money, and so extreme are his views, that even other conservatives are willing to speak out against him.
“Very few people actually support the positions advocated by the groups that he funds but their funding is so massive that they’re able to project more strength than they actually have,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, a conservative strategist and commentator who formerly headed GOProud, a now-defunct group that advocated for LGBTQI people within the Republican Party. “Fewer and fewer conservatives are supporting such extreme social positions. The only thing keeping that movement alive is the funding because there isn’t popular support for those points of view.”
However, given Fieler’s wealth and the fervor of his convictions, it’s likely that he will have a growing influence on conservative politics and national political debates.
Fieler is the manager and co-owner of a financial firm called Mason Hill Advisors, which was formed on Christmas Eve of 2004. At of the end of 2013, the firm had more than $2 billion under management, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.“Fewer and fewer conservatives are supporting such extreme social positions. The only thing keeping that movement alive is the funding because there isn’t popular support for those points of view.”
The funds that Fieler manages through Mason Hill hold large amounts of stock in mining companies whose value depends largely on the value of silver and other metals.
Two such companies are MAG Corporation and Fortuna Silver Mines, both Canadian-based companies that operate in Mexico. (Fortuna also has sites in Peru.)
Like most hedge fund managers, Fieler and his partners take a percentage of their investors’ capital as fees, as well as a percentage of any profit they earn on those investments. While hedge funds are notoriously opaque, it’s clear that Fieler’s business has done well enough to enable him to shower dozens of candidates and a select few of his favored nonprofits with millions of dollars at a time.
The main beneficiary of Fieler’s generosity is the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that says it aims to “offer the saving grace of Jesus to all while defending everyone’s unalienable right to exercise the religion of their own choosing.”
Fieler appears to have given nearly $13 million to the foundation since 2006, with contributions ramping up in 2010. In fact, Fieler appears to be the only significant contributor to Chiaroscuro, with all other contributions totaling less than $90,000.
“Chiaroscuro” refers to the style of painting from the 17th Century—made most famous by Caravaggio and da Vinci—that emphasized contrasts between light and dark. One can’t help but think the name is a metaphor for how Fieler, who is chair of the foundation, and the group’s president, Greg Pfundstein, see the world: in stark terms, where their views represent the light, and other views belong in the shadows.
In all, Chiaroscuro disbursed some $19.2 million to conservative, and mostly religious, organizations between 2011 and 2013, according to an analysis of the foundation’s own numbers, as well as publicly available documents. (Because Chiaroscuro did not reply to our request for comment, we cannot account for the discrepancies between what they have reported on their site, versus on their tax filings.)
Recipients of Chiaroscuro’s largesse include:
- Nearly $1.2 million to EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers, also known as crisis pregnancy centers, a type of anti-choice center known for bait-and-switch tactics thatmislead pregnant women into believing they offer abortion, when in fact they exist to peddle anti-choice propaganda such as debunked claims about the health risks of the procedure.
- $650,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the nonprofit law firm that, along with the Alliance Defending Freedom, has played a central role in the scores of lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act.
- $295,000 to the extreme anti-choice group Americans United for Life.
- $275,000 for the Susan B. Anthony List, a key anti-choice group that funds misleading attack ads against pro-choice candidates, while also backing anti-choice candidates.
- $100,000 to Live Action, the group run by Lila Rose, a young darling of the anti-choice movement, whose so-called “sting” operations on Planned Parenthood clinics and other progressive groups have veered between over-hyped and clownish.
- $20,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, a leading group that opposes equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
(See complete lists of Fieler’s giving, both directly and through the multiple nonprofits he funds, here.)
But that is far from the full extent of Fieler’s giving. He has an entirely separate collection of entities known as the American Principles Project, with its affiliated groups, the American Principles Fund and American Principles in Action. According to public records analyzed by RH Reality Check, Fieler appears to have given just shy of $1 million to American Principles in 2013 and 2014 alone.
American Principles paid nearly $800,000 in 2013 to 2014 for political advertisements attacking candidates for their stances on same-sex marriage and abortion. Key targets included Cory Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who is now a U.S. senator, as well as Elizabeth Cheney in her bid to win the Republican primaries to become a U.S. senator for Wyoming.
Why Fieler’s group would oppose Elizabeth Cheney—whose anti-gay rights views led to a bitter public conflict with her sister, Mary, who is a lesbian—is unclear.“Regrettably, the Left’s spontaneous chant against life is not an aberration. It is part of a larger tension with human dignity that underlies their whole project.”
The third target of American Principles’ attack ads was Monica Wehby, a Republican challenger for a U.S. Senate seat from Oregon.
And then there’s Fieler’s personal giving, which he does directly in addition to the millions of dollars in contributions he makes to nonprofits and pass-through entities.
Since 2008, Fieler has contributed $2.5 million directly to 77 candidates in 19 states, including both state and federal races.
His largest contributions included denizens of the ultra-conservative movement. Ken Cuccinelli, the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate for Virginia, received $72,000. Cuccinelli supports so-called personhood laws, an anti-choice legal Trojan horse that would criminalize abortion and many forms of contraception under the guise of giving fetuses the full rights of legal “persons.”
Other ultra-conservative stalwarts—Mike Pence, Scott Walker, and Carl Paladino—each received $20,000 or more.
Fieler also gave $2,500 to Richard Mourdock, the GOP candidate for a U.S. Senate seat for Indiana who torpedoed his 2012 campaign when he said that pregnancies resulting from rape are a “gift from God.”
And Fernando Cabrera, a New York City Council member and pastor who is running for New York state senate, received $6,500 from Fieler. Though a Democrat, Cabrera has recently made comments broadly understood to be praising the extreme anti-LGBTQI laws in Uganda. Cabrera, a former Republican, has also attended events held by the Family Research Council, a fundamentalist Christian organization that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
If that isn’t wingnuttish enough, Fieler also gave $3,500 to Edward Ray Moore, an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in South Carolina, who believed children should be pulled out of “godless” and “pagan” public schools, which he characterized as “the enemy.” He spoke at a 9.12 Project rally (a Tea Party-aligned movement run by Glenn Beck) and was behind a documentary called IndoctriNation, which warned Christians about the evils of public education.
But of all the states, Fieler paid special attention to Utah, giving more than $70,000 to candidates there.
Why would a New York-based hedge fund manager feel so passionate about politics in Utah?
The answer appears to be linked to legislation recently passed in Utah, relating to one of Fieler’s pet causes.
Fieler is a fervent advocate of returning to the use of silver and gold coins as currency in the United States, believing that “honest money” will rein in what he sees as a rogue U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. These views put him in the company of cranks like Glenn Beck, who has been shilling gold to his audiences for years, even while the firm he promotes, Goldline, had to repay millions of dollars to clients in order to settle a 19-count criminal charge in a California court in early 2012.
Indeed, surprising as it may seem, of all the issues supported by Fieler, he has perhaps been most vocal on “honest money.”
American Principles in Action cites promoting “a return to the gold standard and sound money” as its first priority, and Fieler has spoken about silver and gold money at gala events, as well as during interviews with people such as the head of the Gold Money Foundation.
The group has been lobbying lawmakers throughout the states to introduce legislation to allow silver and gold to be used as currency, Fieler said in a June 2011 interview, and trying to figure out how to “mainstream” the idea.
An employee of American Principles, Steven Lonegan, last month wrote a column in which he called the “fight” to return to the gold standard, a “moral issue.”
(Lonegan is a former Koch operative, having worked for Americans for Prosperity. Fieler contributed $10,400 to Lonegan’s unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat last year, before Lonegan joined American Principles, according to news reports.)
In 2012, Fieler gave $10,000 to Larry Hilton, an insurance executive and lawyer based in Provo who was running for state office in Utah, according to his LinkedIn account.
At around the same time, Utah’s governor signed a bill that legalized gold and silver coins as legal currency in Utah, making it the first such law in the nation.
Who drafted that bill? None other than Larry Hilton.
An editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune called the law “outlandish,” and reported that Hilton claimed in 2011 that gold and silver currency were necessary because “one dollar will be worth one penny in five years,” due to inflation.“The GOP is the party of life, marriage and religious liberty. Conservatives adopted these issues because they believe in them. Republicans need to push them, and govern with them, not run from them, in order to attract Latino voters.”
On his declaration of candidacy for that race, Hilton said he was on the advisory board of American Principles in Action (though the nonprofit’s most recent available tax filings don’t list Hilton as a board member).
It looked as if Arizona was set to follow, with the legislature passing a similar bill in April 2013. However, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, citing practical concerns but no philosophical objection to returning to metal money.
Another ten states are considering similar laws, and a federal version was introduced in 2011 by then Sen. Jim DeMint, who later left Congress to lead the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) reintroduced the bill last year (there was also a House version), but it died in committee.
In all of the public speeches and editorials that Fieler has written calling for the use of silver and gold as currency, RH Reality Check did not find a single instance where he disclosed that he invests in companies that profit from digging up the metal.
There is nothing illegal about Fieler backing silver as currency while also profiting from investing in companies that dig up the mineral, or even any obligation to disclose those interests in the course of his advocacy and lobbying work, according to Eisman, of Common Cause. Eisman says, however, that he would prefer if Fieler chose to make those disclosures.
“It would be nice if he did [disclose],” Eisman said. “It would be reassuring about his commitment to public service if he did.”
In addition to showing candidates and causes with cash, Fieler appears to be trying to establish his groups as thought leaders in the conservative movement.
In October 2013, American Principles released a white paper called “Building a Winning GOP Coalition: The Lessons of 2012.”
Unsurprisingly, the report concluded that Republicans should be more aggressive on “social” issues, such as abortion and marriage.
But it also contained some nuances that explain why Fieler could be such an interesting complement to the Koch brothers.
The report—also known as the “autopsy” of the 2012 Republican defeat—urges immigration reform because, it argues, Hispanics are natural conservatives who are currently alienated by the GOP’s stance on immigration.
If the party shifted on immigration, the report argues, it could “use values issues to attract Hispanics.”
“The GOP is the party of life, marriage and religious liberty,” the report says. “Conservatives adopted these issues because they believe in them. Republicans need to push them, and govern with them, not run from them, in order to attract Latino voters.”
Fieler himself occasionally claims that his “project is nonpartisan,” as he did at the American Principles Gala in 2013.
“If only, there will a little room in the Democratic Party for the unborn, we would willingly engage with them,” he told the room. But then he made known his true contempt for people who disagree with his own religious views. “Regrettably, the Left’s spontaneous chant against life is not an aberration. It is part of a larger tension with human dignity that underlies their whole project,” he said.
Apparently, Fieler’s view of human dignity includes denying reproductive rights to women, denying family rights to anyone other than married heterosexuals, allowing employers to impose their religious views on workers, and imposing fundamentalist Catholic orthodoxies on society writ large.
And given his growing influence in the conservative movement, it’s possible that his views will grow in dominance at both state and federal levels.
Next week marks the Supreme Court’s first conference after the Court adjourned last June. The next week marks the formal beginning of its 2014-2015 term. Much of the drama that will unfold in this coming term, however, is likely to come from cases the justices have yet to agree to hear. Marriage equality, abortion and birth control are all fairly likely to wind up on the Court’s docket before the justices go back on vacation next June. In the meantime, however, the justices will consider the rights of pregnant women who face discrimination in the workplace, they will weigh the Voting Right Act for the first time since they gutted much of this law in 2013, they will thrust themselves into the delicate foreign policy problems raised by the tensions in Israel and Palestine, and they will examine when the First Amendment protects people who make violent threats online.
Here are six major cases the justices will consider this term, as well as a short list of issues they stand a good chance of taking up before the term is over:
Peggy Young was tasked with lifting boxes as heavy as 70 pounds in her job as a United Postal Service worker. When she got pregnant, her midwife recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds, and wrote a note asking her employer to put her on light duty. Had Young been written a similar note because Young broke her arm carrying boxes, or suffered from a disability, UPS would have put her on what is known as “light duty.” But UPS wouldn’t do it for Young on account of her pregnancy.
[C]omplaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging pregnancy discrimination have only increased, prompting the Commission to remind employers recently that they still can’t discriminate against pregnant women.
A federal appeals court sided with UPS, finding that granting “light duty” to Young would give pregnant employees an advantage over other other employees and that Young didn’t suffer pregnancy discrimination. But other than those lone judges, UPS doesn’t have many allies in Young v. UPS. Briefs filed on behalf of state and local lawmakers, national medical associations, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Solicitor General, and even 23 pro-life organizations defend Young’s right to a work accommodation. They say the Fourth Circuit’s ruling was counter to the intent of anti-discrimination laws, that it was bad for the health of mothers and children, that it was bad for the economy, bad for business, and even could encourage women to get abortions. In all, 11 amicus briefs were filed supporting Young and none supporting UPS. Even the members of Congress who passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act explained that they intended for the act the court was interpreting to protect people just like Young, and that the court ruling against her “ignored the unambiguous mandate of the PDA requiring employees to consider only the ability or inability to work in determining a pregnant worker’s entitlement to benefits.”
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from treating pregnant women differently from other employees who are “similar in their ability, or inability, to work.” The act was passed in response to rampant mistreatment and misperceptions of women workers. But these misperceptions persist, even as women now make up about half of the workforce and a large proportion of them will either leave the workforce at some point to have a child, or may be viewed as a woman with the potential to one day leave the workforce for that reason.
In fact, complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging pregnancy discrimination have only increased, prompting the Commission to remind employers recently that they still can’t discriminate against pregnant women.
As a group of women’s advocacy groups and law professors point out in their brief, the ruling against Young is likely to harm the women most in need of pregnancy discrimination protection — those in “low-wage jobs and traditionally male-dominated occupations who are most likely to experience temporary conflicts between the physical effects of pregnancy and job requirements,” and already experience disproportionate discrimination, according to recent statistics.
Despite all of the support and very little public opposition for enforcing pregnancy discrimination laws, the five justices on the Roberts Court most likely to vote against Young are known for having what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg referred to as a “blind spot” when it comes to women. In 2007, these five men rejected Lilly Ledbetter’s fair pay lawsuit, in a decision later overturned by an act of Congress. In 2011, they turned backthe largest-ever class of women alleging gender discrimination by Wal-Mart. And in 2013, that same voting bloc held that many corporations get to decide when their female employees should have access to contraception. Commenting on this blind spot, Ginsburg said in an interview recently, “[T]he justices continue to think and change so I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow.”
When the state of Alabama redrew its legislative districts in 2012, it applied a method one judge described as “naked ‘racial quotas.’” In each district where African Americans were in the majority under the previous maps, according to testimony from one of the legislative leaders involved in the redistricting process, the legislature tried to “at least maintain” or “increase” the percentage of black voters under the new maps. The result was that black voters were packed into relatively few districts, many of which had black supermajorities, rather than having some of those voters be spread into other districts where they could potentially swing the outcome of an election away from the candidate preferred by most whites. In a state where voters are largely polarized on the basis of race — in 2008, 98 percent of African Americans voted for Obama and 88 percent of whites voted for McCain — a racial redistricting scheme that reduces minority voting power also benefits Republicans over Democrats.
When the state of Alabama redrew its legislative districts in 2012, it applied a method one judge described as “naked ‘racial quotas.’”
Alabama justifies its redistricting scheme primarily by arguing that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Actrequired each majority black district to maintain its black population levels after a redistricting. This interpretation of Section 5 is very much in doubt, however. And even if it is the correct reading, the Supreme Court largely neutered Section 5 in its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, so it’s not at all clear that an appeal to Section 5 can still justify racially motivated district lines. The thrust of the Court’s recent affirmative action cases has been that “racial categories or classifications” are subject to the most skeptical level of constitutional scrutiny. If the Court treats Alabama’s racially conscious redistricting process with similar skepticism, it is difficult to see how it survives.
When What You Say On Facebook Lands You In Jail
It’s always been difficult to assess when one person is truly threatening another. But it’s especially difficult on the Internet and social media. If someone tells us they’ll kill us, we may take them at their word out of fear. But what if a similar threat is broadcast to a much broader audience, on social media? Is the threat directed at that person, or is it a form of expression or therapy, directed at a much broader, now-readily available audience? That question has big implications, and it is at the center of the case that is likely the most prominent to assess how we view constitutional principles like free speech in light of evolving cultural and technological norms. In Elonis v. United States, plaintiff Anthony Elonis made some seriously violent comments on Facebook about his wife, who left him and took their children. He said in one status post, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts. Hurry up and die, bitch, so I can bust this nut all over your corpse from atop your shallow grave. I used to be a nice guy but then you became a slut. Guess it’s not your fault you liked your daddy raped you. So hurry up and die, bitch, so I can forgive you.”
Unsurprisingly, his wife perceived the comments as threatening, particularly after she filed a protective order against him. But the comments also read like rap lyrics. And Elonis says they were not meant to be literal. In fact, he posted on his Facebook page several comments that could be perceived as disclaimers, including one that says, “Art is about pushing limits. I’m willing to go to jail for my constitutional rights. Are you?” In another comment, he mimics a sketch from the satirical troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know, saying, “Did you know that it’s illegal for me to say I want to kill my wife?” Elonis has spent three years in prison for the posts.
The question before the court gets to the heart of how we decide what is known as a “true threat.” The lower court that convicted him decided based on whether an objectively reasonable person would perceive his comment as a threat. But the criminal law often assesses the intent of the person committing the crime. So Elonis argues that the standard should instead whether he intended the statements as threatening.
[W]hen the Wu Tang Clan says “I’ll hang your ass with this microphone,” they are asserting their metaphorical, lyrical dominance.
That’s the debate over the legal standard. But there’s also a cultural and racial one. As Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes, this case has also become “something of a referendum on the question of whether rap lyrics are an art form.” This isn’t the only case in which communication that is or resembles rap has been used against a defendant in court. There are many other criminal cases in which defendants’ rap lyrics have been used against them, without what rap music scholars sayis a proper appreciation for the standard use of “exaggeration, metaphor, and, above all, wordplay” that are common in rap.
“Without an understanding of the history and traditions of hip hop culture, its artistic elements are vulnerable to misinterpretation,” scholars Erik Nielson and Charis E. Kubrin assert in their amicus brief. The term “body bagged” in rap, for example, means a victory over a rapper’s opponent in a rap battle. Likewise, when the Wu Tang Clan says “I’ll hang your ass with this microphone,” they are asserting their metaphorical, lyrical dominance.
Interestingly, this case, too, has united unlikely allies. In another amicus brief filed in the case, several pro-life groups and anti-abortion protesters joined with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to also endorse a subjective interpretation of true threats, reasoning that an objective standard infringes on the First Amendment right to protest. And several free press organizations also warned that the inherently provocative content of some journalism could be chilled by an objective standard of what constitutes a true threat. No domestic violence or other groups have weighed in to defend the objective standard.
Religious Liberty in Prison
There’s no question that Abdul Maalik Muhammad, an Arkansas inmate and the plaintiff in a lawsuit calledHolt v. Hobbs, is a very dangerous man (the briefs in this case identify him as “Gregory Houston Holt, also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad”). He once pled guilty to charges that he threatened to “kidnap and harm the two daughters of President George W. Bush.” A few years later, he “broke into the home of his ex-girlfriend, slit her throat, and stabbed her chest.” Muhammad is undoubtedly a security concerns for the guards in the prison where he is currently incarcerated.
But the fact that Muhammad has a history of violent behavior does not strip him of his right to practice his religious faith. To the contrary, a federal law known as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) gives inmates broad religious liberty protections, and permits the government to impose a “substantial burden” on their exercise of religions only when they have an exceptionally good reason to do so. In Mr. Muhammad’s case, he wishes to grow a beard that he believes to be required by his religious faith. In an acknowledgement of the prison’s legitimate security concerns — a too-long beard can be used to conceal contraband or weapons — Muhammad has agreed to limit the length of his beard to only a half-inch.
[T]he fact that Muhammad has a history of violent behavior does not strip him of his right to practice his religious faith.
In their brief, Arkansas officials argue that even the short beard Muhammad wishes to grow presents a security problem. A bearded inmate might hide a piece of a razor blade in their facial hair, or they could hide contraband in their mouth and the resulting “subtle bulge in the cheek” would be disguised by the beard. They might also shave the beard to quickly change their appearance and prevent guards from recognizing them. Yet Muhammad’s attorneys have a fairly convincing response to these objections — “at least forty-four American prison systems would permit [Muhammad’s] half-inch beard, either for all prisoners or for prisoners with religious reasons to grow a beard.” If so many prison systems are indeed capable of managing the security concerns raised by a short beard, it is unclear why Arkansas’ prison system cannot.
Israel and Palestine
Every president since Harry Truman, the president who was in office when the State of Israel was formed, has maintained a policy of neutrality over the question of whether the city of Jerusalem is part of Israel — or, indeed, whether it is part of any other nation. During the Truman Administration, the State Department explained that “the United States cannot support any arrangement which would purport to authorize the establishment of Israeli … sovereignty over parts of the Jerusalem area.” More recently, during the George W. Bush Administration, the State Department explained that “[a]ny unilateral action by the United States that would signal, symbolically or concretely, that it recognizes that Jerusalem is a city that is located within the sovereign territory of Israel would critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.”
Nevertheless, in an apparent effort to undermine this policy of neutrality regarding which nation may lay claim to Jerusalem, Congress enacted a law in 2002 laying out what purports to be the “UNITED STATES POLICY WITH RESPECT TO JERUSALEM AS THE CAPITAL OF ISRAEL.” A provision of this law provides that U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem may have their birthplace listed as “Israel” on their passport, and the plaintiff inZivotofsky v. Kerry now wants to invoke this law. Both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration countered that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the president’s exclusive authority over American foreign policy.
The Constitution’s text provides little clear guidance on whether Congress or the president should prevail in this dispute. Nevertheless, in resolving this case in the president’s favor, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit pointed to a history stretching back to the Washington Administration suggesting that the president has “exclusive power to recognize foreign nations.” It also quoted several prior Supreme Court decisions establishing that the President is the “sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations,” or that if “the executive branch … assume[s] a fact in regard to the sovereignty of any island or country, it is conclusive on the judicial department.” The question presented by Zivotofsky is whether Congress can, in effect, trump the president’ s judgment on a matter of foreign policy such as this one, or whether the executive branch’s authority in this area is truly exclusive.
When Cops Stop You By Mistake
Every first year law student learns the fundamental criminal law concept that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” What this means is that, when someone violates the law, it doesn’t matter whether or not they knew what the law said. If it’s a crime, and they are found to have committed the elements of that crime, they are guilty.
Every first year law student learns the fundamental criminal law concept that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” … The same rule may not apply to cops enforcing the law, however.
The same rule may not apply to cops enforcing the law, however. Nicholas Heien was pulled over on a North Carolina interstate for having a broken tail light. But it turns out that one broken tail light is not a violation of North Carolina law so long as one of the two lights are working. Nonetheless, the cops used that purported violation as a reason for pulling Heien over, and then found cocaine once they searched his car.
Heien argued that because the officers made what is known as a mistake of law, the police had no basis to stop him in the first place, and the later search was invalid. The North Carolina Supreme Court nonetheless upheld the stop 4-3, reasoning that officers in this case made a “reasonable” mistake because the text of the law was not explicit. The case gives the Supreme Court the chance, for the first time, to consider when stops, searches, and seizures are ok even if police misunderstand the law.
As Heien’s lawyers argue, “if motorists were subject to seizures based on mistaken interpretations of arguably imprecise laws, it also would be much more difficult –indeed, sometimes downright impossible – for people to avoid being exposed to traffic stops.” It’s unclear whether drivers can avoid stops anyway. As legal scholar Orin Kerry puts it, “if an officer can’t find a traffic violation to stop a car, he isn’t trying very hard.”
As far as test cases go, Kerr points out that this one case has very good facts for the state of North Carolina, because the traffic law was ambiguous and it is far easier for the officers to say they were acting reasonably when they made a mistake. But the ruling gives the justices an opportunity to re-examine the leeway of officers to make traffic stops, at a time when stops continue to fall disproportionately on African Americans and other minorities. Underlying this case is a larger question: Will justices draw the line?
What Is Yet To Come
In addition to these cases, which the Court has already agreed to hear this term, there are three other high-profile issues that could come before the justices in the coming months, including whether the justices will agree with nearly every single federal judge who has considered the issue that the Constitution forbids marriage discrimination against same-sex couples. It is also fairly likely that the Court will need to clarify justhow far its recent Hobby Lobby decision cuts into the ability of workers to obtain birth control coverage. Although the Hobby Lobby decision itself suggested that the government has some leeway to ensure that workers whose employers object to birth control on religious grounds may still obtain contraceptive coverage through a somewhat complicated process, an order the court handed down shortly after Hobby Lobby suggests that the justices may apply much broader limits on the rights of workers.
There is also an unusually high chance that the justices could take a major abortion case this term. Several cases examining so-called TRAP laws — sham health regulations enacted by lawmakers seeking to restrict access to abortion — are winding there way through the federal court system. Additionally, last term the Court agreed to hear a case concerning whether a state may enact a law that restricted access to medication abortion which was justified by a questionable appeal to women’s health. The Court eventually dismissed the medication abortion case without reaching the merits. It is fairly likely, however, that the Court will want to hear another abortion case as soon as this term which presents the question of when states can use doubtful appeals to women’s health in order to restrict abortion.
There is also an unusually high chance that the justices could take a major abortion case this term.
Finally, there is a small-but-not-zero chance that the justices could take a lawsuit seeking to gut the Affordable Care Act by cutting off subsidies to millions of Americans who currently enjoy subsidized health insurance under the law. It would be highly unusual for the justices to take this case, as there is not currently a disagreement among the lower federal courts regarding whether the subsidies may be paid to all Americans who qualify (although two federal appellate judges did rule against the subsidies earlier this year, their decision was later withdrawn by the full appeals court). Given the extraordinarily partisan environment surrounding all things Obamacare, it is possible that four of the Court’s Republican members — and it only takes four votes for the Court to take up a case — could allow their desire to undermine this law to cloud their legal judgment. Nevertheless, such a decision would open the justices to legitimate concerns that they are placing politics before the law and potentially diminish the prestige of an institution which depends upon its reputation as a neutral arbiter of the law to maintain its legitimacy. That should deter the Court even further from taking this case.
Some women looking for abortions are being misdirected to “clinics” that have no intention of providing them with such a service.
"Misconception," a short documentary from Vice News, looks at the phenomenon of “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) — organizations staffed by anti-abortion groups, usually religiously-based, that encourage women to follow through with their pregnancies, even if they have already decided to terminate.
Some crisis centers provide factually incorrect advice about the process of abortion and its aftermath, others use religious rhetoric to shame women for their choices. Many such centers receive government funding through federal grants or state programs. Vice estimates that in 2014, CPCs could now outnumber abortion clinics 5 to 1.
The film, produced by Allison Yarrow and Claire Ward, investigates the deceptive practices these “clinics” use. Misrepresenting themselves as abortion providers using manipulative tactics like engineering their pages to show up in online searches for “pregnancy symptoms” or situating themselves next to abortion clinics, CPCs reel women in under false pretenses. Often, as shown in the film, these clinics refuse to provide abortion pricing information over the phone, often only revealing that the procedure is not offered there after subjecting women to a “counseling session” and sonogram.
The idea for the documentary came from Yarrow’s field reporting for a Newsweek feature, "The Abortion War’s Special Ops," which follows anti-abortion activist Lila Rose and pro-abortion rights activist Katie Stack. Stack, who was herself referred to a crisis pregnancy center following an unplanned pregnancy, founded The Crisis Project, which investigates the “medical misinformation, emotional manipulation and religious doctrine” that CPCs commonly use.
In “Misconception,” host Fazeelat Aslam attends the pro-life March For Life in Washington D.C., meets with a young woman in Texas who found herself at a crisis pregnancy center after searching for access to an abortion, and goes undercover with Stack to another CPC. Posing as Stack’s aunt, Aslam films a counseling session in which Stack is advised against abortion.
"[Abortion] could never be safe, because it’s so totally unnatural," an anonymous "counselor" tells Stack and Aslam. "Your body is meant to keep that baby, not to have someone put an instrument in and rip it out."
The film also features hidden camera footage from Stack’s visits to other CPCs around the country, revealing some of the shocking things CPC workers have said to her.
"If people die due to an abortion, later on a lot of times they’re finding parts of the fetus in like the lungs or the heart," one "counselor" says. (Hint: this is not true.)
Yarrow believes that “honest, well-run” crisis pregnancy centers have their place, but that the misrepresentation of their mission is unacceptable.
"Centers should reveal up front that they do not offer abortion services and that their counseling is inspired by an anti-abortion position and religious morals," she told The Huffington Post in an email. "We are all entitled to our own positions on abortion, but I bet many people disagree with taxpayer-funded deception."
Stack and other anti-CPC activists are pushing for CPCs to disclose that they do not provide abortions, so that women directed to these places are fully aware of the resources available to them. Raising awareness of this issue is working: organizations like Google have taken a stand, removing deceptive ads for CPCs from their search results.
"The best way to combat crisis pregnancy center deception is to know where these centers are located in your own hometown, and to inform other men and women in your community where they are and what they do," Yarrow told HuffPost. "Insist that your legislators support bills that require centers to adhere to truth in advertising standards."
Watch the full film above, and find out more about The Crisis Project here.
"Crisis Pregnancy Centers" = hotbeds of deceptive medical information for the anti-choice movement.
H/T: Nina Bahadur at HuffPost Women
Anti-Choice Activist Brian Clowes: "Gays Demand Acceptance Because They Feel Guilty About Their 'Horrible Lifestyle'"
Late last month, Molly Smith of Cleveland Right to Life and the National Personhood Alliance hosted Brian Clowes, the director of education and research at the Catholic group Human Life International, to discuss not their mutual opposition to abortion rights but the topic of LGBT rights, which Smith believes is inseparable from the anti-choice fight.
Over the course of 45 minutes, the two activists ran through an encyclopedia of anti-gay myths, including that gay men are prone to molest children, that people become gay because of abuse or neglect in their childhood, and that gay people have dramatically reduced lifespans.
Despite the fact that all of these claims have been thoroughly debunked, Clowes backed them up by saying, “The main principle to keep in mind is that every principle the Catholic Church teaches about sexual morality can be backed up by science, hard science and a lot of it.”
“Interestingly, you’ll find that if you get out of the homosexual lifestyle, you’ll be a lot happier,” he said. “If you’re living under God’s law, God wants us to be happy, so it’s going to be like that.”
The two went on to compare homosexuality to alcoholism, drug abuse and obesity.
“The term ‘gay’ certainly doesn’t apply here,” Clowes said. “It is a horrible lifestyle and it will kill you in the end. And those last few years of your life are not going to be happy because you’re going to be extremely sick, dying of cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, whatever.”
Earlier in the interview, Clowes claimed that LGBT people are demanding tolerance and acceptance because they are “involved in all kinds of sinful, but extremely unhealthy activities and their conscience is bothering them.”
“If they feel bad about themselves, it’s the church’s fault, it’s the homophobes’ fault,” he said. “You know what I’m talking about here? So the only way they can get rid of that nagging little voice of guilt is to have everybody say, ‘It’s all right that you’re gay, we support you in your choice.’ And they will never be satisfied until everybody who opposes them is simply shut up.”
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
Linda Harvey And Molly Smith: Anti-Choicers Must Oppose Gay Rights Because Gay Rights Cause Abortion
Molly Smith, the director of Cleveland Right to Life, lost her group’s affiliation with National Right to Life Committee last year when she criticized Sen. Rob Portman for announcing his support for marriage equality after his son came out as gay.
The national group chided Smith [pdf] for taking on “an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life,” but her group pushed back, saying that “any politician, including Portman, who supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children has forfeited the right of support and endorsement of the prolife movement .”
Then, earlier this year, Smith was picked as the head of the National Personhood Alliance, a new group meant to be an even more extreme rival to National Right to Life.
Which is to say, feelings are still raw. The subject came up in Smith’s interview this month with anti-gay activist Linda Harvey, who wholeheartedly agreed with Smith that anti-choice activists must also oppose LGBT rights because, she said, LGBT rights lead to a greater incidence of abortion.
“The Planned Parenthood and anti-life lobby is heavily imbued and connected to homosexuality,” Harvey told Smith. “They’re in favor of opening up the doors and spreading the boundaries of sexuality all across the board. That includes homosexuality. The lines are very blurred, and unless you stand strong on this issue, you’re going to see much more, and you do see much more, out of wedlock sexuality and then of course, more abortion.”
Harvey said that she had seen Planned Parenthood march in the Columbus, Ohio, LGBT pride parade: “Why are they doing that? Because they know, you muddy the water, and you get a lot more of their business, abortion.”
Smith and Harvey then discussed polls showing rapidly increasing support for gay rights, which they decided must be skewed.
“I’m beginning to lose all kinds of respect for these polls,” Smith said.
“Yes, they’re inaccurate, they portray things in the wrong way,” Harvey agreed, adding that if polls gave people “all the information” about LGBT people “they would change their minds” and realize that “maybe these people are defending something that is not defensible and is, indeed, shameful.”
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
THE GOP'S WAR ON WOMEN CRUSADES ON: 3 state measures that could end legal abortion in their respective states
Ballot initiatives in Colorado, North Dakota, and Tennessee could deal a major blow to abortion rights in those states.
States have approved more anti-abortion measures during the past three years than during the entire preceding decade. And this fall, voters themselves will also have the chance to decide whether to approve or block extreme anti-abortion ballot initiatives in three states. Ballot measures in Colorado and North Dakota would effectively ban abortion by defining personhood as beginning at conception, and a constitutional amendment in Tennessee would allow the state legislature to pass draconian anti-abortion laws, including a ban. Here’s a look at those ballot initiatives:
Colorado’s Constitutional Amendment 67: This ballot measure would amend Colorado’s constitution to define a fetus as a person under Colorado’s criminal code, a change that opponents say would make any abortion a crime, including in cases of rape and incest, and when the health of the mother is endangered.
Supporters of the amendment, including Personhood Colorado, the group backing the ballot measure, say it has nothing to do with abortion, but rather is designed to ensure that those who harm an unborn child in any manner will be prosecuted. The woman who initially pushed for the measure is Colorado resident Heather Surovik, whose fetus was killed by a drunk driver. The driver pleaded guilty to vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated, but because under Colorado law an unborn child is considered part of the mother’s body and not a separate person, he was not charged with killing the fetus.
"Amendment 67 corrects the loophole in Colorado law and ensures that those criminals can be charged with killing a child in many different scenarios," Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman with PersonhoodUSA, told the Washington Post in August.
Reproductive rights advocates say baloney. The “Vote No on 67” campaign, a broad coalition of organizations including the ACLU of Colorado, the Colorado Bar Association and NARAL Pro-Choice America, note the amendment would “give legal and constitutional rights to a woman’s fertilized egg,” making criminals out of women who seek abortions and the doctors who perform them. Amendment 67 could also restrict access to emergency contraception and other types of birth control, as some prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus.
Planned Parenthood of Colorado is planning to spend at least $3.8 million in an effort to defeat the amendment. And Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is harping on the ballot initiative to help drive women to the polls in November. Udall’s Republican opponent, Rep. Corey Gardner (R-Colo.), says he opposes Amendment 67 but has supported personhood measures in the past.
Coloradans defeated personhood amendments in 2008 and 2010 that defined a fetus as a person from the moment of fertilization, or from the first stage of biological development. But because this time around the measure’s language focuses on “protecting pregnant women,” and supporters are framing it as unrelated to abortion, opponents fear it has a better chance.
North Dakota’s Constitutional Measure 1: North Dakota’s personhood amendment asks voters to decide whether the state’s constitution should protect “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development.”
The measure would have the effect of banning all abortion services, according to the North Dakota Coalition For Privacy in Healthcare, a group opposing the initiative that includes the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition. “Victims of rape and incest could be forced to carry a pregnancy that resulted from sexual violence,” the coalition notes. “Women whose health is at risk could also be prohibited from terminating their pregnancies.” The measure could even criminalize miscarriage and ban some forms of birth control. Former North Dakota Democratic lieutenant governor Lloyd Omdahl has said Measure 1 is “driven primarily by theology.”
Proponents of the personhood amendment say the ballot initiative would keep existing laws governing abortion from being overturned by courts. Last year, North Dakota enacted two laws restricting abortion in the state. One forbade women from terminating a pregnancy based on sex or genetic defect. The other, which banned abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected—about six weeks after conception—was shot down by a federal court in April.
GOP state Sen. Margaret Sitte, a supporter of the personhood amendment, says Measure 1 is “intended to present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” the landmark Supreme Court case that held the constitutional right to privacy included a right to abortion. If the measure passes, North Dakota would be the first state to define life as beginning at conception. States have defeated three other personhood ballot initiatives in recent years. In addition to Colorado’s 2008 and 2010 personhood amendment fails, voters shot down a similar ballot measure in Mississippi in 2011.
Tennessee’s Constitutional Amendment 1: As my colleague Molly Redden reported last week, the country’s biggest abortion battle is currently playing out in Tennessee, where supporters and opponents of abortion rights are fighting over a constitutional amendment that will appear on state ballots this November.
The measure states, “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” It would allow the legislature “unlimited authority to pass burdensome and unnecessary restrictions and regulations on abortion, including banning all abortions,” according to Planned Parenthood, including in the case of pregnancy from rape, or incest, or when an abortion is necessary to protect the mother’s health.
Here’s Redden with the backstory:
Tennessee Republicans have been striving to put this referendum before voters since 2000, when a state Supreme Court decision blocked several harsh anti-abortion measures from becoming law. The ruling, which struck down several anti-abortion laws passed in 1998, has prevented the Legislature from passing certain strict laws enacted in other states, such as a mandatory abortion waiting period.…
Amendment 1 would overturn that court decision. ‘It will basically just open the floodgates for the General Assembly to pass any kind of restriction if the amendment passes,’ says Jeff Teague, the president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. ‘We think they probably have a long list of things they’re going to pass.’
The amendment is particularly insidious, the group Vote No on 1 says, because it “is carefully worded in order to deliberately confuse voters about the real intention and motives of those behind the amendment.” The reproductive rights coalition says the language in the ballot initiative may trick voters into thinking that it includes exceptions for women who are victims of rape or incest, or when a woman’s health is in danger, when it does not.
Proponents of Amendment 1 have raised over $500,000 as of early July—which they are spending on TV ads and voter outreach efforts—and hope to raise a total of $2.1 million. Opponents have raised more than $360,000 so far and hope to rake in a total of $4 million. The referendum battle looks to become the most expensive in the state’s history.
If the ballot initiative passes, anti-abortion politicians in the state are expected to pass the same extreme abortion laws and regulations that have shuttered abortion clinics in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, and Alabama.
Repulsive Anti-Choice #TCOT Morons Smear Miss America Winner Kira Kazantsev For Interning At Planned Parenthood
WASHINGTON — Kira Kazantsev has been Miss America for only two days, but she’s already taking a stand on issues that don’t usually make their way into the pageant. Kazantsev, who is from New York, made domestic violence the focus of her platform, speaking out about how she was in an abusive relationship in college.
"I want people to stop asking, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’" Kazantsev said in an interview with NPR. “Every woman is an expert in her own case, and there are so many extenuating circumstances that lead to a woman staying with her abuser.” She said she felt incredibly “alone” in the relationship and wanted people to start talking about domestic violence more openly.
Now, Kazantsev is getting attention for something else. Many conservatives are criticizing her for the fact that she once interned at Planned Parenthood.
Kazantsev’s LinkedIn profile notes that for three months in 2013, she worked at Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, New York, assisting with education programs.
The pro-life site LifeNews.com wrote a piece Monday taking aim at Kazantsev’s work with a company they say “snuffs out of the lives of young baby girls.”
So the woman representing the nation as the new Miss America interned for the very organization that has killed millions of Americans in abortions.
Kazantsev worked for the abortion giant just outside New York City proper for three months, from February 2013-April 2013. One month later, one of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in New York City botched an abortion. The incident occurred at the Margaret Sanger Center Planned Parenthood in New York City, New York.
The criticism spread to Twitter:
Planned Parenthood, of course, does more than just provide abortions. In fact, abortion services account for only 3 percent of what the group does. It also estimates that it prevents about 216,000 abortions each year through its contraceptive services.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood, said the organization was proud of Kazantsev:
Miss America Kira Kazantsev interned last year at her local Planned Parenthood affiliate, where she supported staff members who provide sex education in the community and at local schools. Several past Miss Americas have supported Planned Parenthood’s mission, and we’re thrilled and proud that one of our former interns is the new Miss America.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider of sex education. Every year, we provide more than one million people with accurate, nonjudgmental information about relationships, sexuality, and healthy decision-making. An overwhelming majority of the American public supports access to comprehensive sex education in middle and high schools — the type of sex education programming that Planned Parenthood provides and which gives parents tools to have conversations with their families, and helps keep young people safe and healthy.
Kazantsev, 23, has also interned for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) campaign and the political consulting firm Solidarity Strategies. In 2012, she helped set up the presidential debate at Hofstra University.
UPDATE: 6:21 p.m. — Kazantsev’s LinkedIn profile is no longer available.
Kira Kazantsev = hero.
h/t: Amanda Terkel and Usha Sahay at HuffPost Politics
The most contentious political battle raging in Tennessee this year has nothing to do with control of the US Senate or the governor’s mansion—it’s taking place over a ballot measure that would make Tennessee the next hot zone in the war over abortion rights.
The referendum, called Amendment 1, would amend Tennessee’s constitution to read: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” including for pregnancies “resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.” If the amendment succeeds, it would allow state lawmakers to pass the kinds of draconian abortion restrictions seen in neighboring states. And pro- and anti-abortion rights groups are raising millions to swing the outcome.
Tennessee Republicans have been striving to put this referendum before voters since 2000, when a state Supreme Court decision blocked several harsh anti-abortion measures from becoming law. The ruling, which struck down several anti-abortion laws passed in 1998, has prevented the Legislature from passing certain strict laws enacted in other states, such as a mandatory abortion waiting period. In 2011, a supermajority of both chambers of the state Legislature, which included many Democrats, passed a measure to place Amendment 1 on the November 2014 ballot.
Amendment 1 would overturn that court decision. “It will basically just open the floodgates for the General Assembly to pass any kind of restriction if the amendment passes,” says Jeff Teague, the president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. “We think they probably have a long list of things they’re going to pass.”
VOTE NO ON 1 if you live in Tennessee!
h/t: Molly Redden at Mother Jones
Conservative commentators think we’re more interested in pretty shoes than voting. I wonder why they’re having trouble getting women’s support.
Hello? Oh, I’m sorry, I think you’ve stumbled into the wrong place. This is a piece about politics, and you’re on Cosmopolitan.com. Surely you were looking for something about shoes, or maybe information on how to find a boyfriend? If you’re a young woman, scoot along now, little lady, because all this talk about “issues” and “elections” is probably beyond the purview of what you’re looking for from Cosmopolitan.com. (Do you know what “purview” means? Don’t worry your pretty head about it).
Insulted yet? Well, that’s what folks at Fox News and a series of conservative commentators and websites seem to think about you. On Fox’s Outnumbered — a show so dedicated to serious and not-at-all-sexist political analysis that it bills itself as “Featuring an ensemble of four female panelists &#OneLuckyGuy" — panelists took turns complaining about Cosmopolitan.com's decision to endorse pro-choice candidates, claiming (falsely) that Cosmopolitan.com will “probably leave out jobs and a whole bunch of other stuff that we ladies care about.” Putting aside the fact that Fox commentators have not always shown such a commitment to the interests of working women, our endorsement criteria are actually a little more detailed and include issues such as equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, and leadership on ending violence against women. In the past month, our political stories have included coverage of a Supreme Court justice’s reflections on Roe v. Wade, multiple threatened executions by ISIS, sexual assault in the armed forces, and the militarization of the police in places like Ferguson, Missouri, just to name a few.
"Is this beyond the purview of what the readership of this magazine actually wants to see?" Fox panelist Guy Benson asked about our #CosmoVotes initiative aimed at getting women to the polls. “Do they want to be preached at about politics when they really just want to check out the latest fashions and these wonderful shoes you guys are all wearing?” With that last line, he gestured to the footwear of his four female co-hosts.
One of the reasons we started #CosmoVotes was because we saw how regularly young female voters are derided, condescended to, and insulted. Women hear so often that we’re dumb and uninformed that even the most politically savvy among us start to believe it: Women are less likely than men to think they’re qualified to run for office; they’re less likely to hear they should run for office; and once they do run, they are less confident and less likely to take risks. With the inescapable "Beyonce voter" heckles from the media peanut gallery, who can blame them?
Women who are assertive and confident are punished for that too, because they’re seen as abrasive, while men are just leaders. And so even though more women vote than men and more women are graduating from college than men, women are still sorely underrepresented in every major political body. Men go through life with a pervasive overconfidence, which benefits them in the workplace and in leadership positions; for women, simply having a female name means you’re perceived as less competent. Women, then, opine less and are less likely to see themselves as experts or adequately informed; as a result of that, and the fact that female voices and opinions are routinely derided, womenplay less of a role in public political debate.
It means we realize that pro-life women use birth control and have abortions too, and we think they should have that right.
We think that’s a damn shame. And we want to give our readers the tools to push back on it by encouraging them to vote (no matter which candidate they vote for) and by throwing our weight behind candidates who stand up for women instead of condescending to us.
Yes, that means we are endorsing candidates who are pro-choice. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about our pro-life readers. It means we realize that pro-life women use birth control and have abortions too, and we think they should have that right. It means we realize that outside of the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” monikers, 7 in 10 Americans say they want abortion to be legal. It means we recognize that nearly every American woman will use contraception at some point in her life, and 1 in 3 will have an abortion before her 45th birthday. We recognize that contraception and abortion are normal parts of women’s reproductive lives, and choosing to determine the number and spacing of your children is an act of love, of responsibility, and, sometimes, of basic self-preservation. It means we know women don’t see contraception as a frivolous allowance, but as a cornerstone of their personal and financial well-being — a tool that allows them to complete an education, pursue a career, pick a partner they love and not one they’re tied to out of shame and obligation, and build a family when they are emotionally, financially, and physically ready. And it means we understand that reproductive health care is basic health care and limiting that care is a public health issue: where contraception and abortion are unavailable, women are killed and injured.
No one has to agree with us or with the candidates we’ve endorsed. We welcome vigorous debate, and as we’ve said before, we hope you do your own research, form your own opinions, and vote for the politicians you believe represent your best interests. But we do object to the suggestion that Cosmopolitan.com shouldn’t be issuing endorsements at all because, apparently, we’re bubbleheads who should “stick with fashion and orgasms.” Newspapers that cover, say, sports — not exactly the height of intellectual acuity — aren’t subjected to the same condescension that comes with writing about sex, fashion, and beauty. They don’t hear the accusation that they’re “dictating" what their apparently mindless readers should do or face the assumption that because light content appears on one page, there’s no place for something more serious.
It’s almost as if the problem isn’t that we, like so many other publications, are writing about politics and endorsing candidates, but that we’re writing about politics and endorsing candidates and we’re a publication focused on women.
We think you’re perfectly capable of reading an article about shoes and still walking yourself to your polling place to cast an informed, thoughtful vote.
This is all especially rich coming from conservative media mouthpieces, in an election year when conservative candidates are having a tough time appealing to female voters (the only women who reliably support Republicans are those who are both married and don’t have a college degree). Many conservative policies — like opposition to abortion access, insurance coverage for contraception, equal pay for equal work, a higher minimum wage, and gun control — do women real harm. Of the 10 worst American states for women, measured by women’s economic security, leadership roles, and health, all 10 are Republican-dominated red states. This isn’t just about a horse race; it’s about women’s day-to-day ability to live up to their full potential and to exist in a healthy, cared-for body.
Conservative rhetoric hurts too. It’s not just the cluelessness about how women’s uteruses supposedly “shut down” “legitimate rape.” It’s also the idea that women are more interested in driving their kids to the dentist than in equal pay, that the pay gap isn’t real, that abortion is never necessary, and now that young women just want to see shoe pictures and are too dumb to realize Cosmopolitan.com's endorsements are our analysis and suggestion, not marching orders.
We think you’re perfectly capable of reading an article about shoes and still walking yourself to your polling place to cast an informed, thoughtful vote. We hope you do vote, no matter who it’s for, because the more women cast their ballots, the more all our political parties will have to respond to our needs and interests. But we also hope you’re paying attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages that politicians and political commentators send about women, and that you’re making connections between rhetoric, worldview, and policy.
And we hope that doing that analysis is a reminder that political thought and leadership isn’t just for the TV talking heads and the white-haired men in Congress. Listen to what these guys are saying about you — and then don’t believe it.
We’ll see you at the polls on November 4. And we’ll see you right here on Cosmopolitan.com every day before then, writing about, discussing, and sometimes opining on the abundance of issues that shape your health, your financial future, and the many dimensions of your life.
Late last night, at around 11:30PM CDT, The Missouri Senate successfully overridden the veto of HB1307 by a 23-7 vote. Just a couple of hours earlier, the House successfully overridden the veto by a 117-44 margin. The bill increases the abortion waiting time from 24 to 72 hours, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or other circumstances that threaten the life of the woman.Missouri lawmakers have overridden a veto to enact one of the nation’s longest abortion waiting periods.STLToday.com:
Legislators passed a measure Wednesday that will require women to wait 72 hours after consulting a physician before having an abortion. That’s the second most-stringent standard behind South Dakota, where a 72-hour wait can sometimes extend longer because weekends and holidays are not counted.
Utah is the only other state with a 72-hour wait, but it has exceptions for rape, incest and other circumstances.Missouri’s new waiting period law will take effect 30 days after the veto-override vote.KWMU (St. Louis Public Radio):
Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri’s only licensed abortion clinic in St. Louis, has not said whether it will challenge the 72-hour waiting period court. But the organization has said its patients travel an average of nearly 100 miles for an abortion, and an extra delay could force them to either make two trips or spend additional money on hotels.
Women also could travel just across the state line in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas to abortion clinics in Illinois and Kansas that don’t require as long of a wait.
Missouri’s current waiting-period also lacks an exception for rape or incest. It requires physicians to provide women information about medical risks and alternatives to abortion and offer them an opportunity for an ultrasound of the fetus.
Missouri has a history of enacting abortion restrictions. Republican and Democratic lawmakers twice previously joined together to override vetoes of abortion bills — enacting what proponents referred to as a partial-birth abortion ban in 1999 and instituting a 24-hour abortion waiting period in 2003.
Three Missouri clinics have quit offering abortions in the past decade, and the number performed in Missouri has declined by one-third to a little over 5,400 last year.The Missouri General Assembly has made the state the third in the country to require a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortions, after the state Senate killed off a filibuster.Tweets that sum up the disgraceful veto override vote on HB1307:
The Senate voted 23-7 – along party lines — to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the bill, but only after deploying a procedural action that it hadn’t used in seven years to end a Democratic filibuster that had gone on for about two hours.
The last time the procedure – called “moving the previous question’’ – was used was in 2007, when the Senate also was temporarily paralyzed by an abortion bill. Dubbed a “PQ” for short, the procedure allows a simply majority of senators to end a filibuster.
The Senate action came several hours after the House had voted 117-44 in favor of the override. The House supporters had included almost all Republicans and nine Democrats.
Both votes reflected the intense passions on both sides of the abortion debate, underscored earlier Wednesday by the two morning rallies that had attracted hundreds of people to the state Capitol.
BREAKING: Missouri State Senate Republicans’ controversial 72-hour waiting period on abortion bill that was originally vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon has been passed into law during Missouri’s veto session.
Senate Republicans kill filibuster, vote to override @GovJayNixon veto of 72-hour abortion waiting period http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/the-buzz/article2048499.html … #moleg