Americans talk a lot about freedom in general, but often skimp on specifics.

One of those specifics is the freedom to travel between states. Law-abiding Americans can do this whenever we like, without impediment. This freedom is so intrinsic that the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled against things like residency requirements for welfare, health care, and voting in state elections because they place an impermissible burden on the right to travel.

So let’s say it’s today in the United States, and you’re seven months pregnant. You and the father are no longer together, and are in fact in the midst of a custody battle for the yet-unborn child.

You decide you don’t want to be both a single mom and a firefighter (your job before and during the relationship,) so you move from California to New York to attend Columbia University, which offers support for parent-students through a program for “talented women and men who follow an untraditional path to higher education.” The father files an objection with the California court, which then grants him full custody, because your “appropriation of the child while in utero was irresponsible, reprehensible.” Essentially, the court is saying that particular Constitutional right doesn’t apply to pregnant women.

That’s what happened to Sara McKenna, who had a brief relationship with Olympian Bode  Miller in 2012.

Continue reading

The Flying Pig of Gun Control

I can’t believe it. It can’t be real.

A federal court (9th Circuit Court of Appeals) has ruled that if you get convicted of domestic violence, you are prohibited from owning a gun for the rest of your life… 

Because of – get this – factual evidence that people who commit acts of domestic violence are highly likely to do it again, and if they have a gun, the victim is significantly more likely to be killed.

Even better, the ruling specifically applies to those convicted of misdemeanors, because while people convicted of felony domestic violence are already prohibited from owning guns, the Court acknowledged that domestic violence rarely results in a felony charge.

Factual evidence! Applied to gun legislation! In a way that puts the rights of domestic violence survivors above those of criminals!

Am I being punked?

A Different Kind of Congressional Abortion Bill

Congress is about to consider a major piece of abortion legislation. But it’s not the kind we’re used to.

It aims to make it illegal for states to circumvent Roe v. Wade by passing Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws that make it logistically difficult or impossible for women to access legal abortion.

“The last time Congress passed proactive legislation to protect abortion rights was in 1994, with the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The bill responded to attacks on abortion clinics in the 1990s by prohibiting acts of violence against clinics or the women who visited them.”

Meanwhile, there have been dozens of bills proposed to limit abortion rights in 2013 alone.


Virgina News

(See what I did there?)

If you paid any attention to media coverage of the Virginia Governor’s race, you know the singular talking point was ‘both of these guys are horrible.’

But Republican Ken Cuccinelli is a NIGHTMARE on reproductive rights. As Attorney General:

– He tried to outlaw abortion (with no rape exception) AND several forms of contraception, and force women to undergo vaginal probes before being allowed to get a legal abortion.

– He opposed the Violence Against Women Act.

– He masterminded the effort to pass purposeless construction regulations that would force the closure of all 20 abortion providers in the state.

– He tried to defund Planned Parenthood, supported state funding of abstinence-only sex education, supported 2 “personhood” bills that would grant full civic rights to the unborn, and supported a bill that would require doctors to save tissue from the fetus of a mother under 15 for forensic investigation.

– He funded “Choose Life” license plates, whose profits fund Crisis Pregnancy Centers where women are lured with the promise of reproductive health services and then misinformed, shamed, and guilted about wanting contraception or abortion.

And yesterday, he lost.

He lost to Terry McAuliffe, who has a long track record of unwavering support for reproductive rights, and was endorsed by Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL Pro Choice America.

So screw the media narrative. I’m ELATED.

SCOTUS Says no to One Crazy Abortion Law

There’s cause, if likely only temporary, for celebration today. The Supreme Court has declined to consider a case from Oklahoma over a law that would effectively ban all medical abortion (like RU 486.) The lower court’s ruling, overturning the law, will stand.

Oklahoma has a whole bunch of reproductive rights restrictions already, including mandatory anti-abortion counseling (which previously included forcing women to look at a sonogram image of the pregnancy via transvaginal ultrasound, with no exception for rape or incest, until that part of the law was overturned in Dec. 2012 by the State Supreme Court,) a 24-hour waiting period, restrictions on when abortion can be covered by insurance or financed publicly, and parental notification and consent. Oklahoma City is the only place in the state that has abortion providers; 56% of women in Oklahoma live in counties without one.

There are more abortion cases heading toward the Court, though, and reason for concern (ahem, Texas) that this isn’t the strong precedent it should be. So we celebrate today while preparing for what comes next.

Bad Vagina News Day in Appellate Court

Grr. I was hoping to end the week on some happy Vagina News. But alas, I bring you two infuriating decisions by appeals courts.

First, as expected, the famously conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned  a federal court’s earlier decision to overturn Texas’s recently-passed restrictions on reproductive rights. (It did allow a small part of the ruling, affecting availability of RU 486 to a small subset of women, to stand.)

And A DC Circuit Court has ruled that companies may deny employees contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act for “religious” reasons.

Both decisions will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.