The anti-choice movement in America has a long history of violence, radical extremism, and hypocrisy. Over the years, GOP politicians and the media have nurtured this dysfunction, giving it support above and beyond the small group of religious extremists for whom this cause has been central to their political outlook for decades. At its core, however, the anti-choice movement is a thinly-veiled attempt to shame and punish women for their moral choices by trying to dictate their medical decisions. It’s the closest thing American Christianity has to the notion of Sharia Law, and it remains an embarrassment to this nation that we continue to take it seriously.
So when the recent videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood engaging in illegal activity surfaced, I didn’t even pay attention. The history of the anti-choice movement very clearly pointed to the likelihood that these videos were selectively edited and dishonestly presented. But after about a week, I decided that just because someone was bullshitting me the last 200 times, maybe they’re on to something in the 201st. So I took a deep dive into the controversy.
Nope, still full of shit. And maybe even more ridiculous than they’ve ever been.
The videos purport to show Planned Parenthood employees engaging in the sale of discarded fetuses for profit. This sounds like a horrible thing and one that could lead to perverse incentives on the part of an abortion provider. But it’s total nonsense. Instead, Planned Parenthood is simply taking advantage of a law (passed by many anti-choice Republicans!) that allows women to donate an aborted fetus for scientific research and allows abortion providers to charge for the costs of preserving and delivering the cells without making a profit.
Even beyond the basic level of idiocy involved here, the tax dollars that the anti-choice extremists want to strip from Planned Parenthood don’t even go to abortions in the first place (that’s actually illegal). They go towards a wide variety of women’s health care and contraception efforts, many of which make a huge difference in reducing the number of abortions that occur. So if your goal is to eliminate abortion, it would be difficult to conjure up a more counterproductive way to do it than what these lunatics are demanding in the name of eliminating abortion.
News from the last two weeks…
An Iraq veteran in Virginia writes about being the victim of an overzealous police raid and the parallels to the raids he conducted on homes in Iraq. Shannon McMahon writes about another vet who’s trying to overturn the federal ban on prescribing medical marijuana for PTSD.
Jim Rutenberg writes about the long history of disenfranchising black voters and the efforts to undo the Voting Rights Act. Ari Berman talks about his book on the subject. This week, The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas’ voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act.
Jamiles Larity looks back at the many deadly police encounters from July.
The American Psychological Association is moving to prohibit members from being accomplices to national security efforts.
David Dayen writes about Malaysia’s human rights record and the politics behind whitewashing it for the sake of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deals.
John Oliver takes a long look at mandatory minimums. Mark A.R. Kleiman, Angela Hawken, & Ross Halperin write about the challenges in reducing the number of people behind bars and successfully reintegrating them back into society, while Shaila Dewan writes about the perils of probation. Beryl Lipton looks back at the year-long effort to find out more about private prisons through Freedom of Information Act requests. The New York Times ed board explains why spending money to reintegrate prisoners back into society is fiscally responsible.
German Lopez looks at the effort to stop solitary confinement for juveniles.
Molly Redden looks at the travails of wrongly imprisoned women.
Two California Congressman are battling the DOJ over the interpretation of last year’s legislation that prevented federal money from being spent to override state medical marijuana laws.
Leaders in the high tech world are urging governments to ban autonomous weapon systems.
Senator Ron Wyden is sounding the alarm over a provision in an upcoming bill that would require tech companies to report vaguely-defined “terrorist activity” occurring on their networks.
The NSA is still collecting our telephony metadata in bulk for the duration of the 180 day transition period specified in the USA Freedom Act.
John Dunn looks at surveillance and spyware being used around the globe.
Jason Leopold looks at the CIA’s letter from 2009 about ending its torture practices.
Glenn Greenwald writes about the hypocrisy of certain governments when it comes to free speech.
TSA is planning a rebooted approach after previous tests have shown that their security screening doesn’t work.
Jack Hitt writes about how police departments create tension by using their authority to shake down poor people.
Last year, 679 people died or were killed in California in police custody. Erica Goode writes about the continued use of solitary confinement in a California prison.
Charles Davis writes about the efforts to use the criminal justice system to deal with the homeless problem in Los Angeles. Jeff Sharlet provides a disturbing update on the execution of homeless man Charly “Africa” Keunang, whose family sued the police this week.
The Santa Ana police officers who were caught on tape making fun of a disabled person and possibly eating marijuana edibles after a dispensary raid are claiming that the video is a violation of their privacy.
A Colorado jail has seen 4 deaths of inmates in just the last 3 months.
A Native American mother in South Dakota died in a jail cell after being told to quit faking an illness.
In Minneapolis, charges were dropped against some “Black Lives Matter” Mall of America protestors.
The family of Sandra Bland is suing over the arrest and detention that led to her death in a Texas jail.
A police officer in Alabama still has a job after threatening to murder a black resident.
A sheriff’s deputy in Georgia is being charged in the drug raid that led to a toddler being seriously injured by a flash grenade.
Another police officer in Georgia was indicted after video revealed that he lied about slamming a 69-year-old black man’s head into the pavement as he was trying to move into his new home.
An off-duty Orange County, FL deputy is accused of using excessive force in an arrest at a neighborhood pool.
Police officers in Miami entered a yard and shot a beloved family dog without providing any explanation.
Spencer Ackerman and Zach Stafford discover more disturbing details about Chicago’s Homan Square detention center.
A 7-year-old in Indiana was punished in his public school for saying that he didn’t believe in God.
A 19-year-old in Indiana spent 90 days in jail and could be on a sex registry for decades after having consensual sex with a girl who admitted to lying about her age. A judge this week postponed a re-sentencing decision.
The parents of two elementary school students are suing after their Kentucky school handcuffed them.
A University of Cincinnati officer shown on body camera footage to have shot and killed a man during a routine traffic stop has been indicted.
Police in Cleveland were caught on video pepper spraying activists as they were protesting the violent arrest of a 14-year-old boy on a bus.
Also in Cleveland, another person died under questionable circumstances in police custody.
A 19-year-old in South Carolina named Zachary Hammond was shot and killed after driving a friend to what turned out to be a marijuana sting operation. An independent autopsy confirmed that the police account of the shooting was inaccurate.
A man in Virginia who was killed when allegedly threatening officers with a gun was actually shot in the back of the head.
Dominic Holden reports on a court ruling against a transgender student in Virginia.
Officials in Baltimore considered social media activity by activists to be threats in an effort to criminalize their efforts to organize protests.
The disgraced but acquitted Philadelphia narcotics cops are now trying to sue Philadelphia city leaders for defamation.
The grand jury transcripts in the Eric Garner case are still being hidden from the public.
A gay man in New York is accusing NYPD officers of using anti-gay slurs during a beating that was captured on video from across the street.
The city of Worcester, MA is paying a settlement to a man who was beaten in a jail cell by an officer who has since been charged.
Officials in Alberta are being accused of moving too slowly to implement effective harm reduction techniques to deal with its heroin health problems.
Nina Lakhani reports on the dangers of being a journalist in Mexico.
Justin Salhani writes about police violence in Brazil.
A man originally from Sierra Leone died in police custody in Scotland.
Two German journalists are under investigation for treason after publishing the details of leaked documents showing plans for an expansion of Germany’s surveillance capabilities.
A Turkish prosecutor is threatening 18 journalists with long prison sentences for allegedly propagandizing for terrorists.
Amnesty International accuses Israel of war crimes in last year’s war against Gaza. Israel approved another expansion of settler homes in the West Bank. After a settler arson attack killed a Palestinian baby, IDF forced killed two Palestinian protesters. Charlotte Silver writes about how Israel uses water to maintain its control over Palestinian lives.
In better news from Israel, pharmacies there will soon be allowed to dispense medical cannabis.
Laetitia Bader writes about the crackdown on Ethiopian journalists under their anti-terrorism laws. Two Swedish journalists who were held by the government have written a book about their ordeal.
Mathieu Aikins reports on the conflict in Yemen. Samantha Andrews writes about America’s role and responsibilities in supporting the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen. Ryan Cooper asks why. Meanwhile, pro-Houthi forces are accused of indiscriminately bombing residential areas.
In Central Asia, angry citizens and activists are using dash cams to expose police corruption.
Pakistan has executed over 200 people since lifting a moratorium on the death penalty last year.
Maya Wang reports on the recent Chinese crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists.
Indonesia is considering a law that would make it illegal to criticize the President.