Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.
Reproductive Rights and New Mexico’s Failed Abortion Ban:
At the ACLU of Maine on Monday, we picked up our phones to participate in a phone bank to help defeat an abortion ban on the Albuquerque, New Mexico ballot. The ballot measure banned access to safe and legal abortion after 20 weeks, forcing the government to intrude on a deeply personal medical decision – a decision that should be left to a woman, her family, and her doctor. Luckily, on Tuesday, voters decisively defeated the ban 55% to 45%. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and Planned Parenthood called the results a victory for Albuquerque women and families. Micaela Cadena with the Respect ABQ Women campaign said in a statement, "Dangerous, unconstitutional laws like the one we rejected today have no place in Albuquerque, no place in New Mexico, no place anywhere in our nation."
Dovetailing the defeat of the ban, NPR’s Fresh Air program Wednesday titled “Personhood in the Womb: A Constitutional Question” dealt with the issue of granting full legal rights to fetuses. Lynn Paltrow, of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, discusses the findings of a study released earlier this year: 413 criminal and civil cases where law enforcement intervened in the lives of pregnant women between 1973 — the year the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade — and 2005. In her interview with Terry Gross, Paltrow states, “The question all of these cases pose ... is: As a society, do we believe that there is a point in pregnancy where women lose their civil rights?” Listen to the full story here.
On Tuesday night, three Republicans joined a majority of Senate Democrats in defending provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. This is a significant step towards advancing the Obama administration’s goal of closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay as the provisions loosen restrictions on transferring and repatriating detainees out of the prison. The final vote on NDAA is expected in early December.
Charles E. Berger, an assistant special-agent-in-charge at the FBI, suggests in his op-ed in the L.A. Times this week that establishing a rehabilitation center in Yemen and funding a rigorous post-release monitoring program is the best solution for reducing the recidivism rate. Read more here.
And, you can check out the ACLU's infographic on Guantánamo Bay detention operation costs, and how the military could use the savings made by moving detainees in positive ways.
Kansas Voters Deserve Equality
A new law in Kansas, requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship when they register to vote, has created a two-tiered system for voter registration. Some voters are qualified to vote for President, but not for Governor or Secretary of State!
Why? Voters who register to vote using a state form can vote in all elections, but voters who register using the standard federal form can only vote in federal elections. These voters have done everything that they are supposed to do – complied with all federal legal requirements for voter registration, including providing proof of citizenship through an oath under penalty of perjury – but they are being arbitrarily denied the right to vote in state and local elections.
Doug Bonney, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas, said in a statement. "The people of Kansas deserve better, which means ending these obstructionist, unconstitutional practices once and for all."