A US Supreme Court for the few or the many? Not voting gives your voice to others to decide. (Photo: Zach Gibson / The New York Times)
It is no secret that the makeup of the US Supreme Court will be a major issue as the fall election campaigns unfold. And yet, many voters will choose not to vote. “It’s too much effort. I forgot to register when I moved. My vote won’t matter.”
I’ve heard every excuse, but whatever the reason, not voting gives power to others to make decisions that do in fact affect most of our lives.
Examples? Here are some cases and issues to watch.
Hundreds of “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” activists rallied in front of the United States Supreme Court, in Washington DC, while the court began a session of oral arguments regarding a controversial Texan abortion regulation. Abortion rights supporters wore purple and abortion opponents wore blue.
Robert Barnes and Sandhya Somashekhar | The Washington Post | Reader Supported News | March 2, 2016
he Supreme Court’s liberal justices seemed united in Wednesday’s arguments that Texas’ abortion regulations are an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to an abortion, but the justice who holds the key vote questioned whether there was enough evidence to make such a finding.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom both sides consider pivotal to the outcome of the court’s most important abortion case in a generation, wondered whether it was possible to tell if the changes in Texas law were responsible for the closure of nearly half the state’s abortion clinics. He wondered if lower courts might need to hear more evidence.
But Kennedy also seemed reluctant to accept Texas’s argument that there is no need to factor in the obstacles created for women when weighing the health benefits the state says resulted from the 2013 changes.
Women may make their voices heard in street protests, but not so much in mainstream media. (photo: Reuters)
teleSUR | Reader Supported News | January 24, 2016
Men’s voices dominate the reporting around issues such as abortion rights, contraception, and family planning.
en apparently have more to say about women’s health issues than women do, especially in the media.
According to a new study, men have written 52 percent of all articles relating to reproductive rights in the U.S. Women journalists, on the other hand, only penned 37 percent of these articles.
“When it comes to stories about abortion and contraception, women’s voices are systematically stifled – as writers and as sources,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center, which conducted the study.
January 22 marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that established the legal right to abortion in the United States. But what does the right to end a pregnancy mean if you can’t afford it? Access to abortion care and other family planning services are inexorably linked with women’s economic security. Going into the 2016 election, elected officials would do well to keep that in mind.
The Roe v. Wade decision, along with a 1965 high court ruling that legalized contraception, gave many American women autonomy over when and whether they would have children. This decision carries significant economic weight for women, who increasingly play the role of primary or sole breadwinner in American families. One 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly one-third of U.S. couples between the ages of 18 and 34 put off marriage or postpone having a baby for economic reasons.
Anti-abortion politicians have failed to overturn the Roe decision, but they have imposed so many new restrictions on abortion that the ruling has become effectively meaningless. In the last two years, the number of abortion restrictions passed in state legislatures has increased exponentially. In fact, more than one-quarter of the state abortion restrictions enacted since Roe v. Wade were imposed between 2011 and 2015.
A man displays a Confederate flag during a Ku Klux Klan rally on the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol in Columbia, South Carolina. (photo: Erik S. Lesser/European Pressphoto Agency)
Juan Cole | Informed Comment | Reader Supported News | November 27, 2015
mericans are more at risk from violence by armed white Christian fanatics than they ever were from Muslims.
Abortion clinics have been targeted for violence by fundamentalist Christians of a violent bent for decades. In 2009, Dr. George Tiller was relentlessly shot to death by Scott Roeder, who insisted that the good doctor was satanic because he performed abortions. Dr. John Britton was murdered in 1994 on similar grounds. A strain of Christianity in the United States has never accepted Roe v. Wade, which made it a woman’s right to have an abortion. Not accepting it for oneself is a matter of conscience, and there is nothing wrong with that. But not accepting it for other people is a form of coercion aimed at depriving them of a legal right.
Deploying violence against people to halt abortions is the textbook definition of terrorism, which in the 1990s the Federal Code sensibly defined as non-state actors using violence against civilians to achieve a political aim. Much violence and coercion at Planned Parenthood (only 3% of its activity has to do with abortion) is inspired by Christian fundamentalism.
On this point, Christian ultra-conservativism agrees with the point of view of the Malik school of law among Muslims. In essence, Christian terrorists are attempting to move the United States on the below map away from a modern European norm, where abortion is elective up to a certain point in pregnancy, to an Afro-Asian and Maliki Muslim norm where it is often forbidden except to save the mother’s life (or not even then).b
As the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) concludes its annual meeting this week, it reveals itself as grossly out of touch with both grassroots Catholicism and with Pope Francis. While there were certainly some who objected, the strong majority of US Bishops set forth an agenda that has little to do with the Gospel of Jesus, is opposed by the majority of US Catholics, and will squander Church resources, even as parishes, schools, and service programs continue to be shuttered due to decimated diocesan budgets.
USCCB members voted 210-21 (with a handful of abstentions) to promote a Voters’ Guide for Catholics that instructs Catholics to evaluate candidates based on their positions on abortion and same-sex marriage. In an even more lopsided vote (233-4), the bishops set their priorities through 2020 as:
• Family and marriage (including attempts to rollback same-sex marriage and support for government officials who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples)
• Ending abortion and limiting access to contraception
• Vocations to priesthood
• Religious liberty
Wait a minute! Where is the emphasis on supporting immigration reform and assistance for refugees fleeing war and violence? As the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, and as resources continue to flow to the few, why is ending poverty not at the top of this list? Do US bishops not believe our Church should be on the forefront of efforts to end climate change and its devastating effect on our one God-given planet? Where do efforts to end structural racism, misogyny, human trafficking, or terrorism fit among their concerns?
Lawrence Hurley | Reuters | Reader Supported News | November 15, 2015
he U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to hear a challenge to tough abortion restrictions in Texas raises questions about the legal fate of similar laws in more than a dozen other states.
The court’s ruling, due by June, could spell out the extent to which states can impose clinic regulations likely to restrict access to abortion as an outpatient procedure. If the court upholds the Texas law, similar laws would also fall. But if the court rules in favor of the state, then more states would be able to follow suit.
“Broadly speaking, the rule the Supreme Court crafts will impact all different types of regulation,” said Steven Aden, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that supports abortion restrictions.
A number of conservative-leaning states have passed laws in recent years governing abortion providers and clinics.
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a Texas law that could close three-fourths of the state’s abortion clinics. It has the potential to become the most significant case on abortion rights the court has heard in 23 years.
The Texas law regulates abortion providers in various ways. For example, physicians performing abortions at specific clinics must hold admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, and clinics must meet building standards for “ambulatory surgical clinics,” which are too costly for most abortion providers to meet.
The law, known as HB2, passed in 2013 and has led to the closure of more than half of Texas’ abortion clinics. Of the hundreds of new abortion restrictions lawmakers have passed since 2010, few have proved so consequential to abortion access within a single state. “Before the law began to take effect,” The Guardian reports, “Texas had 41 abortion clinics. A provision requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges with a hospital cut that number in half, and there are 18 clinics today. A second provision of the law, which has been blocked on and off for two years, would further slash the number of providers to nine or 10.”
The last time the nine justices of the Supreme Court ruled on a major abortion-related issue was in 2007, when they ruled 5-4 to uphold a federal law banning a late-term abortion procedure.
A Texas judge ruled last week that a case against Williamson County could go forward after a job applicant claimed that commissioners had a religious test for constable jobs.
Robert Lloyd explained at a press conference that Williamson County asked about his views on marriage, abortion and religion during a 2013 interview for a job at the Williamson County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office.
“I was shocked,” Lloyd said, according to KVUE. “I was sick to my stomach when I left because I had never believed that things like this in government would go on.”
Video depositions obtained by KVUE show Williamson County Commissioner Lisa Birkman and other commissioners admitting that applicants were asked about abortion and marriage.