Respect for Women Means Defending Their Right to Choose

From Secular Values Voters:

Washington, D.C.– The Secular Coalition for America released the following statement in response to remarks made by both candidates during last night’s presidential debate.

Statement by Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America

“Following the release of a tape in which he casually discusses sexual assault, presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that; “No one has more respect for women than I do.” Trump invoked this talking point yet again at last night’s presidential debate shortly after promising to appoint Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe. v. Wade. Donald Trump cannot claim women do not have the right to control their own bodies and, barely thirty minutes later, boast about how much he respects women. The core of Trump’s radical anti-choice position is the belief women’s voices can be disregarded and their medical decisions made by lawmakers. In defending this stance, Trump employed discredited myths about abortion care similar to those used by the religious right leaders who have advised his campaign.

If Donald Trump is at all curious what a platform respecting women would look like, it was displayed at the podium across from his by Hillary Clinton. When asked what sorts of justices she would look to appoint to the Supreme Court, Secretary Clinton did not hesitate to stress that any appointment she makes to the court will be committed to upholding Roe v. Wade. We applaud Clinton’s unequivocal and bold defense of a woman’s right to choose. Lawmakers have no right to impose their personal religious beliefs onto anyone, including women seeking access to abortion care. To do so is blatantly unconstitutional and deeply disrespectful.”

Contact: Casey Brescia,, (845)-380-6201

Tell America It’s Great

It’s Time to Decriminalize Personal Drug Use and Possession. Basic Rights and Public Health Demand It.

From The ACLU:

By Tess Borden, Aryeh Neier Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch
October 14, 2016

Police arrest more people for drug possession than any other crime in America. Every 25 seconds someone is arrested for possessing drugs for their own use, amounting to 1.25 million arrests per year. These numbers tell a tale of ruined lives, destroyed families, and communities suffering under a suffocating police presence.

For the past year I have been investigating how the law enforcement approach to personal drug use has failed. The resulting report, “Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States,” calls on state legislatures and Congress to decriminalize personal drug use and possession. It comes at a time when the country is recognizing that the so-called “war on drugs” hasn’t stopped drug dependence and that we desperately need to address the problems of mass incarceration, race, policing, and drug policy.

For personal drug use, it is time to replace our criminal justice model with a public health one instead.

The consequences of arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people for personal drug use are devastating. I met people who were prosecuted for tiny amounts of drugs, in one case an amount so small that the laboratory could not even weigh it and simply called it “trace.” That man was sentenced to 15 years in Texas.

On any given day, nearly 140,000 people are behind bars for drug possession, while tens of thousands more are cycling through jails and prisons or struggling to make ends meet on probation or parole. Still others are serving sentences for other offenses that have been lengthened because of a prior conviction for drug possession. A conviction for drug possession can keep people from accessing welfare assistance and even the voting booth. It can also subject them to stigma and discrimination by potential landlords, employers, and peers.

I met a woman I’ll call “Nicole” in the Harris County Jail in Texas. Nicole was detained pretrial for months on felony drug possession charges for residue inside paraphernalia. While she was in jail, her newborn learned to sit up on her own. When the baby visited jail, she couldn’t feel her mother’s touch because there was glass between them.

Nicole ultimately pled guilty to possession of 0.01 grams of heroin. She would return to her children later that year, but as a “felon” and “drug offender.” She would have to drop out of school because she no longer qualified for financial aid. She would no longer be able to have a lease in her name and would have trouble finding a job. And she would no longer qualify for the food stamps she had relied on to feed her family.

Forty-five years after the “war on drugs” was declared, rates of drug use haven’t significantly declined, and criminalization hasn’t stopped drug dependence. In fact, criminalization has driven drug use underground, making it harder for people who use drugs to access the help they sometimes really want and need. The “war on drugs” has caused enormous harm to individuals and families — harm that often outstrips the harm of drug use itself. And it has made communities less safe by deeply corroding the relationship between police and communities of color and focusing precious law enforcement resources on nonviolent drug use instead of violent crimes, less than half of which result in an arrest.

Our research also reiterates that enforcement of U.S. drug laws and policy discriminates against communities of color. Although Black and white people use drugs at equivalent rates, a Black person is 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug possession. In many states that ratio is significantly higher. In Manhattan, a Black person is 11 times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than a white person.

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Anti-Semitism at My University, Hidden in Plain Sight

From The New York Times:

On Abortion, Clinton Takes Ownership of Her Feminism

From The New York Times:


Well, that was exciting for me, as a Scotus nerd — the Supreme Court was up to bat first in the debate! And the exchange was sharply defining, most memorably on abortion.

In past elections, presidential candidates have soft-pedaled their views on the subject. This time, Mrs. Clinton sounded resolute and even righteous about defending a woman’s right to control one of the most “intimate and difficult” decisions about her health care.

Mr. Trump used strong language, too, describing how he wants to prevent the ripping of “the baby out of the womb” on the last day of pregnancy. This is what his base wants to hear: Many Republicans, especially religious ones, cite the prospect of future nominations to the court as their reason for supporting Mr. Trump, despite their distaste for, oh, just about everything else about him. So he checked that box. Though oddly, he didn’t simply say “yes” when the moderator, Chris Wallace, asked whether he wanted the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Maybe his old pro-choice self couldn’t quite bear to say it. Or maybe he wanted to soften his stance a bit — I heard a bit of moderation in his promise to appoint “pro-life judges” who would send the issue “back to the states.”

Mrs. Clinton talked to her base, too. She talked about her opposition, and Trump’s support, for defunding Planned Parenthood; the polls are with her on that one. She got in a gibe, reminding Mr. Trump of his (quickly retracted) statement of support for punishing women who seek abortions. (It’s a fairly logical end once you go down the road of outlawing the procedure, but abortion opponents are trained to talk about jailing “abortionists” not women.)

She described the “most heartbreaking” circumstances that often led women to late-term abortion: risk to their own life or health, or the discovery of serious birth defects. That’s not the only reason for abortion after the first trimester, but it’s a significant issue.

I’ll confess I felt a small thrill: More than at any big moment since the convention, Mrs. Clinton owned her feminism. She sounded like the first woman running for president, defending other women — our autonomy and our control of our own bodies.

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Hillary’s America: Loved Ones