The Supreme Court unanimously struck down Massachusetts’ abortion buffer zone law on Thursday, ruling in favor of anti-choice protesters who argued that being required to stay 35 feet away from clinic entrances is a violation of their freedom of speech.ThinkProgress reports that “The decision rolls back a proactive policy intended to safeguard women’s access to reproductive health care in the face of persistent harassment and intimidation from abortion opponents.
“By its very terms, the Act restricts access to ‘public way[s]‘ and ‘sidewalk[s],’ places that have traditionally been open for speech activities and that the Court has accordingly labeled ‘traditional public fora,’ ” the opinion states. “The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests.”
“Reproductive rights advocates had been hoping the justices would uphold the policy, which they say has gone a long way to ensure that woman can safely enter abortion clinics. More than 30 pro-choice organizations filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Massachusetts’ buffer zone, which was approved in response to a mass shooting at several of the state’s abortion clinics.
“According to the National Abortion Federation (NAF), which closely tracks threats and violence against abortion providers across the country, buffer zones have had a measurable impact in the areas where they’re in place. A recent survey conducted among NAF’s member organizations found that 51 percent of facilities in areas with buffer zones reported a decrease in criminal facility after the policy was enacted, and 75 percent of them said it helped improve patients’ and staff members’ ability to access the clinic. Continue reading “Anti-choice wins in court”
In politics, the notion of being gay by one’s own volition is like Voldemort—dangerous even to be uttered.
Writing in The Atlantic, Suzanna Danuta Walters states that “Biological determinism is the new normal, yoked to tolerance claims much as magic hews to Harry Potter. It was not always this way, but a determinist ethos began to insinuate itself into gay politics in the late 1980s or so. As sociologist Vera Whisman noted as early as 1996, “the claim of ‘no choice’ is to a pro-gay stance as the claim of ‘choice’ is to an anti-gay one: a foundational argument. Anti-gay rhetoric uses the term ‘sexual preference’ to imply choice, while pro-gay rhetoric uses ‘sexual orientation’ to deny it.”
“Television shows are full of characters invoking their biology when confronting their queerness, and Hollywood films depict immutability as unassailable truth in movies that present a “tolerance” thesis. In conversations with friends and family, we certainly hear a lot of “but I always knew something was different,” or “I always felt gay,” or something to that effect. These are, unquestionably, very real feelings for many (although assuredly not all) gay people, and I don’t want to deny the experience of that “inevitability.”
“Believing that one is born gay can also become a handy weapon against the harsh treatment by family and society, and an explanatory tool to combat internal self-loathing and doubt. There is clearly some real comfort for gays—particularly those who have navigated the waters of hatred—to come to land on the supposedly solid shores of biology. Continue reading “On “Choosing to be Gay””
Last week 41 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision affirming a woman’s right to an abortion, a momentous leap forward for women’s health.
As Ms Magazine observes, “Despite this hard-won victory, Roe v. Wade is under constant attack, with anti-choice activists chipping away reproductive freedoms at the state level.
“States have passed more laws restricting abortion in the past three years than in all of the 2000s. Every state except Oregon has at least one abortion restriction on the books, and there’s a push to ban abortions earlier and earlier in pregnancy, with North Dakota even attempting to enact a six-week ban.
“With the state-level backlash against reproductive rights, it’s important to recommit ourselves to protecting the health and rights of women. The Roe decision may be decades past, but this fundamental right is in danger of being legislated away.
“In its annual State of Reproductive Health and Rights report card, the Population Institute gave the United States an inexcusable C- on reproductive rights, citing our high rate of unintended pregnancies (50 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned) and the states’ assault on abortion providers. In its conclusion, it applauded the Affordable Care Act for expanding coverage for reproductive health, but says this was undercut by politically motivated attacks on abortion access. Continue reading “Choice at 41”