‘Hobby Lobby’ Is Just the Beginning: A Flood of Corporate Religious Objections Is Coming [#quickhit: link]

In order to find corporations can exercise religious beliefs, Alito must conflate two very different scenarios. The first involves cases where the legal interests of employers and employees are largely aligned against those of the government; the second includes cases like Hobby Lobby, where corporate interests are trying to hide behind constitutional protections to deprive their employees of their rights. It’s a quick, but important, conflation that makes it possible for Alito to continue in the rest of his opinion to ignore the interests Hobby Lobby employees have in being free from religious discrimination by their employer.

With that judicial sleight-of-hand accomplished, Alito moves on to the larger question of just how a corporation can exercise these newly found religious rights. As it turns out, corporations practicing religious beliefs is remarkably simple, and just because a corporation seeks to maximize profit doesn’t mean it can’t do so in the name of religion:

While it is certainly true that a central objective of for-profit corporations is to make money, modern corporate law does not require for-profit corporations to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and many do not do so. For-profit corporations, with ownership approval, support a wide variety of charitable causes, and it is not at all uncommon for such corporations to further humanitarian and other altruistic objectives. … If for-profit corporations may pursue such worthy objectives, there is no apparent reason why they may not further religious objectives as well.

Did you catch that? If some corporations can support charitable causes, Justice Alito reasons, why not allow others to pursue religious causes such as avoiding complying with federal law?

On rhrealitycheck.

‘Hobby Lobby’ Is Part of a Greater War on Contraception [#quickhit: link]

Emphasis added. On rhrealitycheck:

Hobby Lobby’s complaint in the case that the Supreme Court decided on Monday morning is that the company and its founders don’t think Hobby Lobby employees should be able to spend their own earned insurance benefits on contraception; the company wants to be able to offer a plan that doesn’t meet the minimum federal requirements on contraception coverage. Hobby Lobby argues that even though there is no scientific evidence to back this contention up, contraception methods like the intrauterine device (IUD) and emergency contraception work by killing fertilized eggs, and they claim to believe that a fertilized egg is the equivalent of an actual baby.

That’s the ostensible reason. However, it’s important to remember that Hobby Lobby is not acting alone. Rather, the company is the official plaintiff (along with the Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation) in a case that is part of a larger legal attack from the Christian right on contraception access. While contraception is largely non-controversial among the general public, chipping away at contraception access—particularly when it’s female-controlled, and particularly when it’s used by young or low-income women—has become a major part of the anti-choice agenda.

Make no mistake: They are coming for your birth control. [Read the rest.]

If shame has gone, why do we use secret abortions in England to preserve the myth of holy Ireland?

‘Most “fallen” women knew well enough that they were expected to create a narrative of disappearance, usually one that involved the boat to Holyhead.’ Photograph: HJ Allen/Evening Standard/Getty Images

‘Most “fallen” women knew well enough that they were expected to create a narrative of disappearance, usually one that involved the boat to Holyhead.’ Photograph: HJ Allen/Evening Standard/Getty Images

The Irish psychosis whose latest expression is thousands of dead babies in unmarked graves is a compound of four elements: superiority, shame, cruelty and exclusion. The Taoiseach last week called the deaths of those children “yet another element of our country’s past”. Are we so sure that these forces are not also our country’s present?

The superiority complex in Irish society came from the desperate need of an insecure middle class to have someone to look down on, an inferior Other against which to define its own respectability.

In 1943, the Joint Committee of Women’s Societies and Social Workers compiled a well-meaning memorandum on children in institutions. It noted of those in mother-and-baby homes that “These illegitimate children start with a handicap. Owing to the circumstances of their birth, their heredity, the state of mind of the mother before birth, their liability to hereditary disease and mental weakness, we do not get, and we should not expect to get, the large percentage of healthy vigorous babies we get in normal circumstances. This was noticeable in the institutions we visited.”

These were humane and compassionate reformers. And it seemed obvious to them that children born out of wedlock would be physically and mentally weak and that “we should not expect” them to be normally healthy.

Rest: irishtimes.com.

‘She had Spanx on’

In one case, a lawyer told a woman who had been raped that they would not be pursuing her case, “particularly bearing in mind the type of underwear that you had on at the time”. The woman, who has asked for anonymity, says she was wearing Spanx – body-shaping hosiery.

‘She had Spanx on’. On the Independent.

Truly and horribly unbelievable.

The Return Of The Back-Alley Abortion

feminism - prochoice, abortion rights

In 1969, when abortion was completely illegal in Texas except to save a woman’s life, Karen Hulsey became pregnant.

She was 20 years old and living in Dallas at the time, and the diaphragm she was using for birth control had failed her. Her boyfriend, she discovered, was married, and refused to help raise or pay for a child.

“It was just at a time in my life where I knew I couldn’t take care of a child, and he wanted no responsibility,” Hulsey recalled in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Instead, the man offered to pay for her to travel to Mexico, where he knew of a clandestine abortion provider. She wrestled with the decision and was three months pregnant by the time she agreed to go.

“I was not only very afraid of the ramifications with God, but very ashamed and embarrassed,” said Hulsey, who was raised Catholic. “I struggled with the decision for a long time.”

Hulsey left Dallas at midnight on a chartered plane, with no idea where she was going, and landed in a field south of the border in the middle of the night. A woman Hulsey had never met before was waiting for her when she stepped off the aircraft.

“I was scared to death,” Hulsey said. “Of course, he did not go with me — I went alone,” she said of her boyfriend at the time. “That was the stipulation.”

From there, things only got worse.

On Huffington Post: The Return Of The Back-Alley Abortion.

Picture: Four decades after the Supreme Court upheld a woman’s right to choose, pregnant women once again find themselves crossing the border to Mexico and haunting back-alleys in search of medical care. Left: Abortion rights demonstrators rally outside of the Texas State Capitol, July 15, 2013 (Tamir Kalifa/AP). Right: Demonstrators march to the U.S. Capitol for a rally seeking the repeal of all anti-abortion laws, Nov. 20, 1971 (AP).

good point. sometimes strawmen arguments make important points.

good point.

sometimes strawmen arguments make important points.

While Hobby Lobby opposes offering contraceptive coverage, it does sell three types of knitting needles, just the kind that in the not-so-distant past, women who became pregnant and didn’t have access to legal abortion used to try and end their pregnancies themselves. So maybe they shouldn’t be selling those. [On rhrealitycheck]

violence against women lulz

violence against women lulz.

As a feminist, one of the most frequent questions I receive is “why do you call it a war on women”. This morning, Jean Hatchet sent me a link to Paddy Power which is an online gambling website. [Screencap above.]

This is what I mean when I say there is a war on women: using the murder of a woman as entertainment. Using the murder of a woman as a money-making scheme. It is the brutal dehumanisation of  Reeva Steenkamp who they don’t even bother to name in this disgraceful example of man’s inhumanity to women.

Reeva Steenkamp was human too. She deserves better than having her murder used as entertainment. Her family deserve better.

From everydayvictimblaming (@EVB_Now)

“The question is not really when life begins…

The question is not really when life begins. The question is whether we recognize women and other people with uteri as humans whose lives have intrinsic value and the rights of agency, bodily autonomy, and consent. It is only because such a vast swath of our population cannot or will not answer a resounding and unqualified “yes” to that question that there is even space for a reprehensible debate about when life begins.

- Melissa McEwan, being amazing as usual. (via sashareads)

The Pope’s beliefs about abortion will become relevant the day the Popebecomes pregnant

Yes. On newstatesman:

Oh, Pope Francis. He was doing so well. For almost a year, liberals all over the world allowed themselves to believe that this Pope was different, that this Pope was more interested in the loving-each-other aspects of Christianity than in stigmatising contraception and shaming homosexuals. Then, in his annual speech on the state of the world, Jorge Mario Bergoglio gave a resounding statement against sexual freedom and abortion rights, reminding us all that whatever else the Pope is, he is still the head of the Catholic Church. In other news, bears – despite a massive global rebranding effort – still shit in the woods.

Say what you like about the last guy, but at least he didn’t pretend to be progressive. Right now, I find myself actually missing Benedict XVI, with his snazzy red shoes and squinty evil grin. If you’re going to be Pope, you might as well do it properly. If you’ve waited your whole life to be despotic commander with millions of followers, you should at least enjoy yourself. [Rest.]

The Irish Abortion Act changes nothing for women

On bpas:

The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act came into force in Ireland on January 1. It allows abortion in an extremely narrow set of circumstances, and in effect changes nothing for Irish women.

We see Irish women every day in our clinics, all of whom have been failed by their own government. Below are four case studies of Irish women who came to one of our clinics during one morning late last year:

C, 20

She has recently had a baby. It was a difficult pregnancy resulting in an extremely premature birth. Her son is disabled and needs constant care. She said she was finding it very hard to be away from him – her journey to England will have been the longest length of time they have been apart. She feels strongly this is the right decision – “It’s not what I need for me and my son.” She fell pregnant after having been advised against using contraception for medical reasons – and told it was highly unlikely she could conceive again. Her doctor was not supportive when she became pregnant again and told her that “life is sacred.” She said she wanted to speak about her experience because she is worried about the next generation of young girls and wants things to be better for them. [Rest.]

Ireland passes law allowing limited rights to abortion

Hugely important progress. It’s not enough (see below re. rape cases for example) but it is a start I thought I’d never see.

Irish parliamentarians passed a groundbreaking law early on Thursday allowing limited abortion rights in the republic.

Enda Kenny and his coalition government pushed through the protection of life in pregnancy bill, which will allow for abortions only when a woman’s life is under threat if her pregnancy continues or if she is suicidal.

Despite threats of excommunication from cardinals and bishops, the privately devout Catholic prime minister eventually won the vote after a marathon two-day debate in the Dáil.

Members voted by 127 to 31 to legalise abortion in cases of medical emergencies as well as the risk of suicide.

However, pro-choice and anti-abortion groups have already threatened court cases to challenge the new law.

The legislation which passed through the Dáil after 24 hours of tortuous debate will not stop the annual abortion trail from Ireland to Britain.

According to Irish department of health figures released on Thursday, about 4,000 Irish women travelled to British hospitals and clinics to terminate their pregnancies last year. They included 124 who were under 18.

The new law also does not include women who were raped, meaning grim traffic across the Irish Sea for abortions will continue.

Rest: The Guardian.

Six Truly Unbelievable Ways Ohio Has Just Eviscerated Women’s Rights

On alternet:

The Republican Party continues to hack away at reproductive rights around the country–and Ohio is the latest place to be targeted by anti-abortion forces. Governor John Kasich signed the state budget Sunday night–and included in the budget are a number of measures that would restrict abortion rights in the state. It was signed over the objections of protesters who descended on the state legislature.

“Wait until the first women dies; wait until the first doctor leaves Ohio,” warned one protester.

But the anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life praised the legislation. “It took great compassion and courage for our governor and pro-life legislature to stand up to the abortion industry that blatantly pressured them,” said Mike Gonidakis, the president of the group.

The bill is in line with the extreme measures the GOP has been pushing around the country and that caught national attention in Texas. Here are 6 of the worst anti-reproductive rights provisions contained in the Ohio state budget.

1. Places Limits on Rape Clinics

Rape clinics are no longer allowed to counsel victims on abortion options under the new budget. If clinics do undertake that counseling, public funding would be cut off. [Rest.]


Why Texas Abortion-Restriction Laws are a National Problem

Or, even, an international problem. We (UK) take a lot of of our lead on reproductive rights from the US. bitchmagazine:

Today, thousands of Texans are crowding their state capitol, protesting Governor Rick Perry special legislative session to consider a bill (now known as HB2) that would restrict abortion access and shut down all but five abortion clinics in the state home to 26 million people.

But while Texas’ proposed abortion restrictions are in the spotlight, they aren’t an anomaly.

It’s tempting for those of us on the coasts to write off the wildly restrictive laws proposed in Texas as a red state issue. But the sad truth is that laws chipping away at the right to safe legal abortion have passed in 49 states since Roe v. Wade. Oregon is now the sole state whose rules around abortion have remained intact over the past 40 years. [Rest.]


Criminalization of Abortion Continues in Mexico

In the last five years, 127 women have been put on trial for abortion in Mexico.

When Laura, a 22-year-old woman from Puebla, went to the emergency room because she was hemorrhaging, she ended up under arrest.

Puebla is a Mexican state that has created laws to “protect life, starting at conception,” and local hospital workers are required to report suspicions of illegal abortions to the police. Laura spent five days in the hospital under police custody, being accused of illegally inducing an abortion with the over-the-counter ulcer drug, Misoprostol. Though she was subject to criminal prosecution, Laura was freed when a judge determined there was insufficient evidence. Then she was left to pay legal fees for a crime she was never proven to have committed. [Rest.]

Wendy Davis’ filibustering for abortion rights is a brave and great thing

On commentisfree:

It’s raining here, softly but firmly, and Wendy Davis is filibustering in Texas.

She’s speaking in a low, quiet voice in the other tab, talking about admitting privileges, standing quietly as Senators raise points of order, resuming her flood of speech flawlessly when the floor is returned to her. Her voice is calm and clear, measured, thoughtful, as she explains a subsection of SB5. My Twitter is flooded with commentary on Davis, on SB5, on reproductive rights. The Texas Senate is filled with people in orange, most of them women, coming out in droves to support the right to choose; to refuse the restrictions on abortion services embedded in SB5, the attempt to deprive them of access to basic medical services.

The past few years have been particularly bad ones when it comes to reproductive autonomy. I am reminded of the scene in V for Vendettawith the dominoes, the one at the very end where everything has finally come together and flick they’re falling, slowly at first and then faster and faster, and then suddenly they’ve all fallen into V’s symbol, slashes of red and black, finished, pattern completed. Across the United States, the dominoes are falling, faster and faster, as state after state after state takes rights away in the guise of “protecting women.”

Wendy Davis is filibustering. She plans to stand for 13 hours without eating, drinking, or using the bathroom. She cannot lean on her podium, and she must stay on-topic, focusing on the bill and related subjects. She’s surrounded by a room of hostile people who want nothing more than to see her fail, because if she fails, SB5 can go to vote, the Senate can pass it, Texas women will have that much more trouble accessing abortions in a state where getting access to reproductive health services is already extremely difficult. [Rest.]


Conservatives Double Down on the War on Women

On rhrealitycheck:

With all the moaning and wailing at Fox News and other right-wing media outlets about the supposed unfairness about the phrase “war on women,” you’d think conservative politicians would try to avoid the charge by, you know, not waging it. Or at least laying off it a little. Instead, the opposite is happening. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fears this will be the worst year on record for reproductive rights, possibly worse than the previous two worst years, 2011 and 2012. The group has a map of the legislation offered and passed on the state level. [Rest.]

Global map of abortion and contraception availability

From Slate:

On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.

El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.

The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases.* Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.