Indiana and their New Reproductive Rights laws … that hurt Women


CREDIT: WNDU News Screenshot

A 33-year-old woman from Indiana faces decades in prison after she sought medical attention at a hospital as she was bleeding from a premature delivery. The case is just the latest example illustrating the real-world consequences of the harsh state laws that essentially criminalize pregnancy.

According to the charges being filed against her, Purvi Patel attempted to end her pregnancy last year by taking pills that she bought online from Hong Kong. The pills didn’t work, and Patel eventually delivered a premature baby at home. When she went to an emergency room to seek treatment after giving birth, the staff asked why she didn’t have an infant with her. She said her baby appeared to be dead, and she had wrapped it in a bag and placed it in a dumpster.

Now, Patel is being charged with both neglect and feticide, allegations that actually conflict with each other. She was initially charged with “neglect of a dependent” after prosecutors learned she left her baby in in a dumpster, a charge that won’t apply if the baby was already dead. But she’s now also being charged with “fetal murder of an unborn child” — a charge that an Indiana judge allowed to stand this week — for taking drugs that could have illegally ended her pregnancy.

As the Daily Beast’s Sally Kohn points out, the logic doesn’t exactly hold up. “The State of Indiana intends to convict and incarcerate Purvi Patel one way or another, whether the fetus she delivered was alive or not — never mind the fact that the facts necessary for filing the one charge (that the fetus have been alive) entirely contradict the facts necessary for filing the other (that the fetus have been dead) and vice versa,” Kohn writes.

On top of that, reproductive rights advocates and legal experts point out that Indiana’s “feticide” law was never intended to be applied to pregnant women themselves. It was originally written as a way to crack down on illegal abortion providers. Critics say Patel fits into a disturbing trend; similar “fetal homicide” laws are in place in at least 38 states, and they’re increasingly used to punish women who end up having miscarriages or stillbirths.

“Once again targeting a woman of color, prosecutors in Indiana are using this very sad situation to establish that intentional abortions as well as unintentional pregnancy losses should be punished as crimes,” Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which tracks these cases closely, said in a recent statement about Patel’s case. “In the U.S., as a matter of constitutional law and human decency, no woman should be arrested for the outcome of her pregnancy.”

Patel is the second woman to be prosecuted under Indiana’s feticide law. The state also pressed charges against Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese immigrant who attempted suicide while pregnant and ended up delivering a baby that didn’t survive. Shaui was imprisoned for more than a year before a plea deal was reached in April, and her case sparked international outrage. More than 100,000 people signed onto a petition demanding Shuai’s release and pointing out that “it is wrong to have a set of separate and unequal laws for pregnant women.”

The laws that allow states to arrest pregnant women for allegedly harming their fetuses actually end up undermining public health. Major medical groups like the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose “feticide” laws because they ultimately deter women from seeking the medical attention they need.

Harsh restrictions on abortion, as well as unreasonably broad definitions of “fetal homicide,” have created a society in which all pregnant women are transformed into potential suspects in the eyes of the law. And since miscarriage and abortion are relatively common pregnancy experiences — and research has proven that women are going to end their pregnancies whether or not it’s legal — that means we’re also approaching a society in which desperate women may be too terrified to ask for health treatment. For instance, if Patel had known that she was at risk for being charged with fetal homicide, would she have thought twice about going to the emergency room? Would she have joined the millions of women around the world who die from botched abortions and risky childbirth?

“We cannot afford to deter a woman from seeking reproductive health care,” the Indiana Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice pointed out in a statement released this week. “Those of us who are Christian know that when Jesus responded to the hemorrhaging woman there was no place for aggressive interrogation and punishment. It was all for healing.”

To Kill a Mockingbird Dec 25, 1962: Sequel or Original coming soon


On this day in 1962, To Kill a Mockingbird, a film based on the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Harper Lee, opens in theaters. The Great Depression-era story of racial injustice and the loss of childhood innocence is told from the perspective of a young Alabama girl named Scout Finch, played in the film by Mary Badham, who lives with her older brother Jem (Phillip Alford) and their widowed attorney father Atticus (Peck). While Scout, Jem and their friend Dill (John Megna) become fascinated by the mysterious shut-in Boo Radley (Robert Duvall), Atticus goes to court to defend a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Directed by Robert Mulligan (Love with the Proper Stranger, Inside Daisy Clover, Summer of ‘42, The Man in the Moon), To Kill a Mockingbird was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won three Oscars, including Best Actor (Peck). The American Film Institute has rated Atticus Finch as the greatest movie hero of the 20th century, and in 1995 the United States National Film Registry picked To Kill a Mockingbird for preservation in the Library of Congress as a “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” film.

Peck, born on April 5, 1916, in La Jolla, California, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, where he became involved in theater. He debuted on Broadway in the early 1940s and made his big-screen debut in 1944’s Days of Glory. He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for 1946’s The Keys of the Kingdom, 1947’s The Yearling, 1948’s The Gentleman’s Agreement and 1950’s Twelve O’Clock High. The handsome, dark-haired actor also starred in such movies as Spellbound (1945), The Gunfighter (1950), Roman Holiday (1953)–which marked Audrey Hepburn’s silver screen debut, as well as her first Best Actress Oscar win–Moby Dick (1956), in which Peck played Captain Ahab, and The Guns of Navarone (1961). Among Peck’s other movie credits are The Omen (1976), The Boys from Brazil (1978) and Other People’s Money (1991). He also made an appearance in director Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake of Cape Fear, starring Robert DeNiro, Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange. (Peck had starred in the original 1962 film.) He died at the age of 87 on June 12, 2003.

To Kill a Mockingbird was the only book that Harper Lee ever published. The author, who was born on April 28, 1926, and raised in Monroeville, Alabama, was a friend from childhood of the writer Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Cold Blood). In the 2005 biopic Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actress Catherine Keener played Lee, while Sandra Bullock took on the role in 2006’s Infamous.

Robocalls …


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Lawrence Lessig: The funniest fundraising video I’ve ever seen


It might be the funniest fundraising video I’ve ever seen—and it’s for something that really matters. It’s a make-or-break campaign for “The Good Fight,” the amazing podcast by my friend Ben Wikler, who is also MoveOn’s Washington director. The deadline is midnight tomorrow. 
If you think that there are important stories that most media never cover, you’ve got to see this video:
1. Our guests should be household names.Frank Mugisha is the leading gay rights activist  in Uganda. Sister Simone Campbell is a powerhouse lobbyist nun. Jose Antonio Vargas won his Pulitzer Prize at age 26, four years before he came out of the closet as undocumented.

Ai-jen Poo helped launch a nanny uprising. Garlin Gilchrist II is reversing the Detroit diaspora. And Larry Lessig is on a shoot-for-the-moon quest to kick big money out of politics.

They’re just a few of the amazing people we’ve been lucky enough to introduce to our listeners. There are so many more out there. Some are well-known already. All of them should be.

If you believe that more people should learn about heroes like these, click here.

2. We’re doing something no one else is doing.

This isn’t talk radio, and it isn’t NPR. We don’t rant, we don’t pretend every argument is equally valid, and we don’t obsess over horse-race minutia.

For us, politics isn’t a game. But it is insanely fun. Battles for justice are the greatest stories on earth. They’re like “The Princess Bride”: full of, as the grandfather put it, “fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!”

On “The Good Fight,” we interview genuine heroes winning fights that matter. Then we take those interviews, edit like crazy, stir in original music, narration, and archival audio — and craft spellbinding real-life David vs Goliath radio stories, told from the behind-the-slingshot point of view. And then we ask our listeners to get involved.

It’s a new kind of mission-driven media — but it will only continue if enough of us contribute. Can you check out this campaign, and—if you’re inspired—chip in before it expires on Thursday at midnight?

3. A golden age of podcasts is dawning. A huge new audience awaits.

Every week, nine out of ten Americans listen to the radio. That’s no surprise: radio is uniquely intimate. We’ve all had “driveway moments” — when you’re sitting in your car, right outside your house, unable to move until the story on the radio is done.

Now it’s moving online. Suddenly, America is discovering that podcasts — radio shows on the Internet — can be just as powerful. Thanks to the mega-hit podcast “Serial,” iPhones, and connected cars, millions of people are tuning in to podcasts for the first time.

The question now is whether podcasts can become, for progressives, the answer to what conservatives did with talk radio in the last century.

This is the moment I’ve been dreaming of. The moment I’ve been preparing for.

I can’t seize it without your help.

4. People love “The Good Fight.”

Here’s what they’re saying:

  • “Refreshingly anti-cynical … expertly produced and presented … a welcome reminder that news doesn’t always have to be bad.” — The Telegraph1
  • “Beautiful, wrenching, and amazing” — Prof. Lawrence Lessig2
  • “At first, I was skeptical  —  it reminded me of the hundreds of activist emails piled up in my inbox. But this show, I quickly found, is no guilt trip. It’s funny and stimulating … It’s great.” — The Guardian3
  • “Best of 2013″ — Apple
  • “★★★★★” — 437 reviewers on iTunes
  • “Exciting! How do you get it to play?” — My mom

We’ve produced some amazing episodes and hit a million downloads in our first year. And if enough of us join in, a lot more great ones are coming soon.

5. You’ve seen our mind-blowing Kickstarter video.

Wait, you haven’t seen it yet? Go watch it. Note: The first ending is fake. Stick around for the part with Al Franken.

6. Seriously, though: this means the world to me.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by the place where politics and media collide. My first job out of college was producing Al Franken’s show on Air America Radio. Five years ago, I made up my mind to try and launch a show — but it wasn’t until a friend signed on to help, a programmer and activist named Aaron Swartz, that I summoned up the courage to actually give it a shot.

On a wintry January day three years ago, with me on the mic and Aaron running the mixing board — all in my bedroom closet — we produced our first podcast.

And from that first moment, I loved it.

But it was more a dream than a job. We both had a lot going on. My son, Mac, had just been born. Aaron was leading the fight against SOPA, and wrestling with an unjust prosecution. The show’s only sponsor was the bagel store on 7th Avenue — and it paid us in cream cheese.

A year later, to my delight, agreed to help me get the show off the ground. But by that point, Aaron was consumed by the court case. On the day I started working on the show full-time, he took his own life.

Today, for me, the show is a way that I can honor his memory. The fundamental vision that has always driven it forward, the one that inspired him to join — the idea that the most important fights are also the most fascinating stories, and that by telling them, we can build the empathy and hope and love that are foundational to social change — that vision has never wavered.

This campaign is how we can move that vision forward. It would mean a lot to me to have your support.

7. The stories we tell, the heroes we lift up, define who we become.

We have a choice to make. We can exalt wealth and status and fame — or we can measure our lives by the difference we make in the lives of others.

Researchers have shown that hearing stories about others’ moral decisions affects the choices we make for ourselves. Hearing stories of heroes draws out the best in each of us. I know that a single podcast can’t shift the moral center of our culture. But it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

“The Good Fight” is my candle.

I hope you’ll help me spread the light. Click here to watch the video, and chip in if you’re inspired.


1. “The best podcasts for news, politics and current affairs,” The Telegraph, July 7, 2014

2. “The Good Fight: Ben Wikler’s podcast about Aaron Swartz, me and the #MaydayPAC,” Lessig Blog, v2, June 24, 2014

3. “Listen to this: Ben Wikler and Aaron Swartz’s The Good Fight,” The Guardian, July 11, 2014

Lawrence Lessig is a professor at Harvard Law School and the founder of MAYDAY Super PAC, which fights to get big money out of politics. 

what a successful Presidency looks like

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President Obama Took Office
(January 2009)
7,949 The Dow Jones Index 17,573
7.8% Unemployment 5.8%
-5.4% GDP Growth 3.5%
9.8% Deficit GDP % 2.8%
37.7 Consumer Confidence 94.5

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