Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.
A Wisconsin law known as the “cocaine mom” act is being challenged as unconstitutional in a federal suit filed this month. Under the law, child welfare authorities can forcibly confine a pregnant woman who uses illegal drugs or alcohol and who refuses to accept treatment. The suit is being argued by National Advocates for Pregnant Women along with the New York University School of Law and Linda S. Vanden Heuvel. Wisconsin is currently one of four states (accompanied by Minnesota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota) with a law that grants state officials the power to confine pregnant women for substance abuse. Such laws “treat fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses as if they are already completely separate from the pregnant woman”. According to the New York Times, many medical experts say that these laws are based on faulty information, overblown perceptions of the risks to newborns, and are “medically counterproductive”.
To address the over 300 anti-choice bills that have been introduced throughout the United States this year, the ACLU enlisted the help of comic artist Jen Sorensen. Sorensen exposes anti-choice group tactic contradictions using expressive characters who argue for clinic regulations while at the same time jump up in the air yelling, “Keep your government hands off my everything!” Check it out here.
On Wednesday, lawyers for the ACLU and county clerks argued for same-sex marriage before the New Mexico Supreme Court. The case reached the state’s high court unbelievably quickly, thanks to the state’s 33 county clerks who in August petitioned for legal guidance on whether they were allowed to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Six same-sex couples represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and an Albuquerque law firm filed suit against the state of New Mexico and the Santa Fe and Bernalillo County Clerks. Over 900 same-sex couples have been issued marriage licenses in New Mexico this year, but New Mexico is the only state that does not have a law or constitutional amendment allowing or prohibiting same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is legal in fourteen states and illegal in 35. It may take several weeks for a decision to be made. Still, there is strong reason to believe that the court will likely uphold same-sex marriages as a right guaranteed by the state constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.