Bean

Americans Like To Throw Each Other In Prison

Given all the press recently about the U.S. incarceration rate -- which now tops 1 in every 100 adults -- it should come as no surprise that the US leads the world in both total number of incarcerees and the per capita incarceration rate. As Liptak puts it, our prison population dwarfs that of other countries. A dubious distinction if I ever heard one.

From Liptak's article in today's NYT:

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Mail Is A Fundamental Right

One more way that the criminal (in)justice system is whittling away at the small pleasures in life for the incarcerated in a Florida county: now their loved ones have to write extra teeny tiny. That's because now, based on a new directive, they will only be allowed to receive postcards. No S.W.A.K. allowed.

Here's more:

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Knocked Up? Your Job Might Be on the Line

The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that discrimination against pregnant women is on the rise. Up 14 percent in the past year, to be exact. And yet, pregnant women have very little recourse.

Jezebel (linked above) explains pregnant women's legal bind: "Employers can fire, lay off and refuse to hire knocked up ladies, but they have to provide ample proof that they held men to the same standards. They also have to provide maternity leave, as they would provide leave for any other medical issue, but in 48 of the 50 states, that leave doesn't have to be paid (readers in California and Washington State, you're the lucky ones)."

That's pretty much right. There is a Pregnancy Discrimination Act, but it's protections are limited. And it doesn't require affirmative protections for pregnant women but rather restrains companies from treating pregnant women worse than men and women who are not pregnant. In fact, the Supreme has specifically rejected any requirement of affirmative protections for pregnant women.

Of course, this all goes to the point that we live in a society that doesn't really care about having women as equal citizens, or really about children and even fetuses (except when they can be used as political pawns). Call me crazy, but I'd argue that firing a woman or treating her badly during her pregnancy is certainly not the way to assure a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Are Harvard Men Sidelined by Sharia?

Michael Graham at the Boston Herald has his panties in a bunch over Harvard's decision to create a women-only hour in the school's gym, so that Muslim women can exercise comfortably and in keeping with the rules of modesty imposed by Sharia. He calls discrimination against those poor Harvard boys who have been sidelined by the school's decision. Woe is them!

Now, here's the thing. I'll admit my ambivalence (to put it mildly) about religious edicts (of ANY faith) that require women's "modesty" while usually allowing men to traipse all over town. But, aside from the fact that we live in a pluralistic society that should accommodate many faiths, using this as an excuse to decry, oh, everything Harvard has ever done to encourage dialogue with Muslim students and world leaders is just bull.

I'm told by a Boston-native that the Herald is beantown's version of the NY Post. Graham certainly proved it today.

Italian Police Storm Hospital to Prevent a Late-Term Abortion

Is this what we're heading toward here in the U.S.? In Naples last week, police stormed into a hospital based on an anonymous tip that doctors there had performed an abortion later than 24 weeks (the latest date allowed under the country's 30-year-old abortion law). From the NY Times:

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Being Pro-Choice Is Not Enough

This post was originally published on 1/22/08

So, as you might have heard, today is the 35th Birthday/Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which was handed down on January 22, 1973. The organizers of blog for choice day have suggested we all write about why it's important to "vote pro-choice." While it's true that it's important to vote "pro-choice," I want to write about more than that -- why it's important to vote for someone who really understands what it means to want reproductive justice. In order to understand this, it's important to know how far Roe got us, and how far we've got to go.

Roe was a huge step. It said that the right to abortion was constitutionally-grounded and was too important -- to fundamental -- to be left to the whims of the state governments or to come and go at the will of the majority. Though the language of the decision had more to say about doctors than about women, the message of Blackmun's decision was loud and clear: women have a fundamental constitutional right to control their reproductive lives, not to let their reproductive lives control them.

Immediately after Roe, Medicaid funds became available for poor women to have abortions, and the right became a reality for many millions of American women. Since then, however, the times have not been so sweet for reproductive freedom. Facing pressure, violence, and over the top licensing requirements from the states, clinics have closed, leaving women in 87% of US counties without an abortion provider. The Hyde Amendment was passed and continues to bar poor women from receiving Medicaid funding for their abortions, with few exceptions. As Francis Kissling and Kate Michelman, two longtime leaders of the abortion rights movement (Kissling at Catholics for a Free Choice and Michalman at NARAL)
write in this week's Nation, the US has gone from being a leader in reproductive health access to a laggard.
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