The Rock, Bernal Hill, San Francisco
Olivia Rodrigo - F*** You (feat. Lily Allen) (Glastonbury 2022)
With Olivia Rodrigo and Lily Allen
[Verse 1: Lily Allen]
Look inside, look inside your tiny mind
Then look a bit harder
'Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired
Of all the hatred you harbour
So you say it's not okay to be gay
Well, I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval
[Chorus: Lily Allen]
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please, don't stay in touch
[Verse 2: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]
Do you get, do you get a little kick out of being small minded?
You want to be like your father, it's approval you're after
Well, that's not how you find it
Do you, do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
'Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
You're losing control of it
And it's really distasteful
[Chorus: Olivia Rodrigo, Lily Allen & Olivia Rodrigo]
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you very, very much
'Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please, don't stay in touch
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
[Verse 3: Lily Allen]
You say you think we need to go to war
Well, you're already in one
'Cause it's people like you that need to get slew
No one wants your opinion
Doctors for Assange Statement
Doctors to UK: Assange Extradition
‘Medically & Ethically’ Wrong
Ahead of the U.K. Home Secretary’s decision on whether to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, a group of more than 300 doctors representing 35 countries have told Priti Patel that approving his extradition would be “medically and ethically unacceptable”.
In an open letter sent to the Home Secretary on Friday June 10, and copied to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland, the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, the doctors draw attention to the fact that Assange suffered a “mini stroke” in October 2021. They note:
“Predictably, Mr Assange’s health has since continued to deteriorate in your custody. In October 2021 Mr. Assange suffered a ‘mini-stroke’… This dramatic deterioration of Mr Assange’s health has not yet been considered in his extradition proceedings. The US assurances accepted by the High Court, therefore, which would form the basis of any extradition approval, are founded upon outdated medical information, rendering them obsolete.”
The doctors charge that any extradition under these circumstances would constitute negligence. They write:
“Under conditions in which the UK legal system has failed to take Mr Assange’s current health status into account, no valid decision regarding his extradition may be made, by yourself or anyone else. Should he come to harm in the US under these circumstances it is you, Home Secretary, who will be left holding the responsibility for that negligent outcome.”
In their letter the group reminds the Home Secretary that they first wrote to her on Friday 22 November 2019, expressing their serious concerns about Julian Assange’s deteriorating health.
Those concerns were subsequently borne out by the testimony of expert witnesses in court during Assange’s extradition proceedings, which led to the denial of his extradition by the original judge on health grounds. That decision was later overturned by a higher court, which referred the decision to Priti Patel in light of US assurances that Julian Assange would not be treated inhumanely.
The doctors write:
“The subsequent ‘assurances’ of the United States government, that Mr Assange would not be treated inhumanly, are worthless given their record of pursuit, persecution and plotted murder of Mr Assange in retaliation for his public interest journalism.”
“Home Secretary, in making your decision as to extradition, do not make yourself, your government, and your country complicit in the slow-motion execution of this award-winning journalist, arguably the foremost publisher of our time. Do not extradite Julian Assange; free him.”
Julian Assange remains in High Security Belmarsh Prison awaiting Priti Patel’s decision, which is due any day.
Sign the petition:
If extradited to the United States, Julian Assange, father of two young British children, would face a sentence of 175 years in prison merely for receiving and publishing truthful information that revealed US war crimes.
UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser has ruled that "it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America".
Amnesty International states, “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law.”
Human Rights Watch says, “The only thing standing between an Assange prosecution and a major threat to global media freedom is Britain. It is urgent that it defend the principles at risk.”
The NUJ has stated that the “US charges against Assange pose a huge threat, one that could criminalise the critical work of investigative journalists & their ability to protect their sources”.
Julian will not survive extradition to the United States.
The UK is required under its international obligations to stop the extradition. Article 4 of the US-UK extradition treaty says: "Extradition shall not be granted if the offense for which extradition is requested is a political offense."
The decision to either Free Assange or send him to his death is now squarely in the political domain. The UK must not send Julian to the country that conspired to murder him in London.
The United Kingdom can stop the extradition at any time. It must comply with Article 4 of the US-UK Extradition Treaty and Free Julian Assange.
Recently I’ve started working with the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee. On March 17, Ruchell turned 83. He’s been imprisoned for 59 years, and now walks with a walker. He is no threat to society if released. Ruchell was in the Marin County Courthouse on August 7, 1970, the morning Jonathan Jackson took it over in an effort to free his older brother, the internationally known revolutionary prison writer, George Jackson. Ruchell joined Jonathan and was the only survivor of the shooting that ensued. He has been locked up ever since and denied parole 13 times. On March 19, the Coalition to Free Ruchell Magee held a webinar for Ruchell for his 83rd birthday, which was a terrific event full of information and plans for building the campaign to Free Ruchell. (For information about his case, please visit: www.freeruchellmagee.org.)
Below are two ways to stream this historic webinar, plus
• a petition you can sign
• a portal to send a letter to Governor Newsom
• a Donate button to support his campaign
• a link to our campaign website.
Please take a moment and help.
Note: We will soon have t-shirts to sell to raise money for legal expenses.
Here is the YouTube link to view the March 19 Webinar:
Here is the Facebook link:
Sign the petition to Free Ruchell:
Write to Governor Newsom’s office:
No one ever hurt their eyes by looking on the bright side
Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale
U.S. Air Force veteran, Daniel Everette Hale has recently completed his first year of a 45-month prison sentence for exposing the realities of U.S drone warfare. Daniel Hale is not a spy, a threat to society, or a bad faith actor. His revelations were not a threat to national security. If they were, the prosecution would be able to identify the harm caused directly from the information Hale made public. Our members of Congress can urge President Biden to commute Daniel's sentence! Either way, Daniel deserves to be free.
Laws are created to be followed
by the poor.
Laws are made by the rich
to bring some order to exploitation.
The poor are the only law abiders in history.
When the poor make laws
the rich will be no more.
—Roque Dalton Presente!
(May 14, 1935 – Assassinated May 10, 1975)
 Roque Dalton was a Salvadoran poet, essayist, journalist, political activist, and intellectual. He is considered one of Latin America's most compelling poets.
“In His Defense” The People vs. Kevin Cooper
A film by Kenneth A. Carlson
Teaser is now streaming at:
Posted by: Death Penalty Focus Blog, January 10, 2022
“In his Defense,” a documentary on the Kevin Cooper case, is in the works right now, and California filmmaker Kenneth Carlson has released a teaser for it on CarlsonFilms.com
Just over seven months ago, California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered an independent investigation of Cooper’s death penalty case. At the time, he explained that, “In cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined.”
That investigation is ongoing, with no word from any of the parties involved on its progress.
Cooper has been on death row since 1985 for the murder of four people in San Bernardino County in June 1983. Prosecutors said Cooper, who had escaped from a minimum-security prison and had been hiding out near the scene of the murder, killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, a friend who was spending the night at the Ryen’s. The lone survivor of the attack, eight-year-old Josh Ryen, was severely injured but survived.
For over 36 years, Cooper has insisted he is innocent, and there are serious questions about evidence that was missing, tampered with, destroyed, possibly planted, or hidden from the defense. There were multiple murder weapons, raising questions about how one man could use all of them, killing four people and seriously wounding one, in the amount of time the coroner estimated the murders took place.
The teaser alone gives a good overview of the case, and helps explain why so many believe Cooper was wrongfully convicted.
New Legal Filing in Mumia’s Case
The following statement was issued January 4, 2022, regarding new legal filings by attorneys for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”
With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464)
The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won’t know for at least a month.
The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then-Prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill, prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding Black people from the jury, and letters and memoranda which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct, and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in 1982, during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latinx detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions.
In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed.
Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”
The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in U.S. courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. (lovenotphear.com/) Stay tuned.
—Workers World, January 4, 2022
Pa. Supreme Court denies widow’s appeal to remove Philly DA from Abu-Jamal case
Abu Jamal was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder of Faulkner in 1982. Over the past four decades, five of his appeals have been quashed.
In 1989, the state’s highest court affirmed Abu-Jamal’s death penalty conviction, and in 2012, he was re-sentenced to life in prison.
Abu-Jamal, 66, remains in prison. He can appeal to the state Supreme Court, or he can file a new appeal.
KYW Newsradio reached out to Abu-Jamal’s attorneys for comment. They shared this statement in full:
“Today, the Superior Court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider issues raised by Mr. Abu-Jamal in prior appeals. Two years ago, the Court of Common Pleas ordered reconsideration of these appeals finding evidence of an appearance of judicial bias when the appeals were first decided. We are disappointed in the Superior Court’s decision and are considering our next steps.
“While this case was pending in the Superior Court, the Commonwealth revealed, for the first time, previously undisclosed evidence related to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s case. That evidence includes a letter indicating that the Commonwealth promised its principal witness against Mr. Abu-Jamal money in connection with his testimony. In today’s decision, the Superior Court made clear that it was not adjudicating the issues raised by this new evidence. This new evidence is critical to any fair determination of the issues raised in this case, and we look forward to presenting it in court.”
Questions and comments may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603
How long will he still be with us? How long will the genocide continue?
By Michael Moore—VIA Email: email@example.com
American Indian Movement leader, Leonard Peltier, at 77 years of age, came down with Covid-19 this weekend. Upon hearing this, I broke down and cried. An innocent man, locked up behind bars for 44 years, Peltier is now America’s longest-held political prisoner. He suffers in prison tonight even though James Reynolds, one of the key federal prosecutors who sent Peltier off to life in prison in 1977, has written to President Biden and confessed to his role in the lies, deceit, racism and fake evidence that together resulted in locking up our country’s most well-known Native American civil rights leader. Just as South Africa imprisoned for more than 27 years its leading voice for freedom, Nelson Mandela, so too have we done the same to a leading voice and freedom fighter for the indigenous people of America. That’s not just me saying this. That’s Amnesty International saying it. They placed him on their political prisoner list years ago and continue to demand his release.
And it’s not just Amnesty leading the way. It’s the Pope who has demanded Leonard Peltier’s release. It’s the Dalai Lama, Jesse Jackson, and the President Pro-Tempore of the US Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy. Before their deaths, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu pleaded with the United States to free Leonard Peltier. A worldwide movement of millions have seen their demands fall on deaf ears.
And now the calls for Peltier to be granted clemency in DC have grown on Capitol Hill. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), the head of the Senate committee who oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has also demanded Peltier be given his freedom. Numerous House Democrats have also written to Biden.
The time has come for our President to act; the same President who appointed the first-ever Native American cabinet member last year and who halted the building of the Keystone pipeline across Native lands. Surely Mr. Biden is capable of an urgent act of compassion for Leonard Peltier — especially considering that the prosecutor who put him away in 1977 now says Peltier is innocent, and that his US Attorney’s office corrupted the evidence to make sure Peltier didn’t get a fair trial. Why is this victim of our judicial system still in prison? And now he is sick with Covid.
For months Peltier has begged to get a Covid booster shot. Prison officials refused. The fact that he now has COVID-19 is a form of torture. A shame hangs over all of us. Should he now die, are we all not complicit in taking his life?
President Biden, let Leonard Peltier go. This is a gross injustice. You can end it. Reach deep into your Catholic faith, read what the Pope has begged you to do, and then do the right thing.
For those of you reading this, will you join me right now in appealing to President Biden to free Leonard Peltier? His health is in deep decline, he is the voice of his people — a people we owe so much to for massacring and imprisoning them for hundreds of years.
The way we do mass incarceration in the US is abominable. And Leonard Peltier is not the only political prisoner we have locked up. We have millions of Black and brown and poor people tonight in prison or on parole and probation — in large part because they are Black and brown and poor. THAT is a political act on our part. Corporate criminals and Trump run free. The damage they have done to so many Americans and people around the world must be dealt with.
This larger issue is one we MUST take on. For today, please join me in contacting the following to show them how many millions of us demand that Leonard Peltier has suffered enough and should be free:
President Joe Biden
E-mail: At this link
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland
Attorney General Merrick Garland
E-mail: At this link
I’ll end with the final verse from the epic poem “American Names” by Stephen Vincent Benet:
I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse.
I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea.
You may bury my body in Sussex grass,
You may bury my tongue at Champmedy.
I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass.
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.
PS. Also — watch the brilliant 1992 documentary by Michael Apted and Robert Redford about the framing of Leonard Peltier— “Incident at Oglala”
By Margaret Atwood*
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
*Witten by the woman who wrote a novel about Christian fascists taking over the U.S. and enslaving women. Prescient!
Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Department of Labor
For release 10:00 a.m. (ET) Thursday, January 20, 2022
(202) 691-6378 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.bls.gov/cps
(202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov
In 2021, the number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions continued to decline (-241,000) to 14.0 million, and the percent who were members of unions—the union membership rate—was 10.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The rate is down from 10.8 percent in 2020—when the rate increased due to a disproportionately large decline in the total number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The 2021 unionization rate is the same as the 2019 rate of 10.3 percent. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent and there were 17.7 million union workers.
These data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 eligible households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For further information, see the Technical Note in this news release.
Highlights from the 2021 data:
• The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.1 percent). (See table 3.)
• The highest unionization rates were among workers in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). (See table 3.)
• Men continued to have a higher union membership rate (10.6 percent) than women (9.9 percent). The gap between union membership rates for men and women has narrowed considerably since 1983 (the earliest year for which comparable data are available), when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)
• Black workers remained more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)
• Nonunion workers had median weekly earnings that were 83 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($975 versus $1,169). (The comparisons of earnings in this news release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)
• Among states, Hawaii and New York continued to have the highest union membership rates (22.4 percent and 22.2 percent, respectively), while South Carolina and North Carolina continued to have the lowest (1.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively). (See table 5.)
Industry and Occupation of Union Members
In 2021, 7.0 million employees in the public sector belonged to unions, the same as in the private sector. (See table 3.)
Union membership decreased by 191,000 over the year in the public sector. The public-sector union membership rate declined by 0.9 percentage point in 2021 to 33.9 percent, following an increase of 1.2 percentage points in 2020. In 2021, the union membership rate continued to be highest in local government (40.2 percent), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.
The number of union workers employed in the private sector changed little over the year. However, the number of private-sector nonunion workers increased in 2021. The private-sector unionization rate declined by 0.2 percentage point in 2021 to 6.1 percent, slightly lower than its 2019 rate of 6.2 percent. Industries with high unionization rates included utilities (19.7 percent), motion pictures and sound recording industries (17.3 percent), and transportation and warehousing (14.7 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.2 percent), professional and technical services (1.2 percent), food services and drinking places (1.2 percent), and insurance (1.5 percent).
Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2021 were in education, training, and library occupations (34.6 percent) and protective service occupations (33.3 percent). Unionization rates were lowest in food preparation and serving related occupations (3.1 percent); sales and related occupations (3.3 percent); computer and mathematical occupations (3.7 percent); personal care and service occupations (3.9 percent); and farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (4.0 percent).
Selected Characteristics of Union Members
In 2021, the number of men who were union members, at 7.5 million, changed little, while the number of women who were union members declined by 182,000 to 6.5 million. The unionization rate for men decreased by 0.4 percentage point over the year to 10.6 percent. In 2021, women’s union membership rate declined by 0.6 percentage point to 9.9 percent. The 2021 decreases in union membership rates for men and women reflect increases in the total number of nonunion workers. The rate for men is below the 2019 rate (10.8 percent), while the rate for women is above the 2019 rate (9.7 percent). (See table 1.)
Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2021 (11.5 percent) than White workers (10.3 percent), Asian workers (7.7 percent), and Hispanic workers (9.0 percent). The union membership rate declined by 0.4 percentage point for White workers, by 0.8 percentage point for Black workers, by 1.2 percentage points for Asian workers, and by 0.8 percentage point for Hispanic workers. The 2021 rates for Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics are little or no different from 2019, while the rate for Asians is lower.
By age, workers ages 45 to 54 had the highest union membership rate in 2021, at 13.1 percent. Younger workers—those ages 16 to 24—had the lowest union membership rate, at 4.2 percent.
In 2021, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.1 percent) continued to be considerably higher than that for part-time workers (6.1 percent).
In 2021, 15.8 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union, 137,000 less than in 2020. The percentage of workers represented by a union was 11.6 percent, down by 0.5 percentage point from 2020 but the same as in 2019. Workers represented by a union include both union members (14.0 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.8 million). (See table 1.)
Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,169 in 2021, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $975. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, these earnings differences reflect a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)
Union Membership by State
In 2021, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 10.3 percent, while 20 states had rates above it. All states in both the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, while all states in both the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. (See table 5 and chart 1.)
Ten states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2021. South Carolina had the lowest rate (1.7 percent), followed by North Carolina (2.6 percent) and Utah (3.5 percent). Two states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2021: Hawaii (22.4 percent) and New York (22.2 percent).
In 2021, about 30 percent of the 14.0 million union members lived in just two states (California at 2.5 million and New York at 1.7 million). However, these states accounted for about 17 percent of wage and salary employment nationally.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on 2021 Union Members Data
Union membership data for 2021 continue to reflect the impact on the labor market of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Comparisons with union membership measures for 2020, including metrics such as the union membership rate and median usual weekly earnings, should be interpreted with caution. The onset of the pandemic in 2020 led to an increase in the unionization rate due to a disproportionately large decline in the number of nonunion workers compared with the decline in the number of union members. The decrease in the rate in 2021 reflects a large gain in the number of nonunion workers and a decrease in the number of union workers. More information on labor market developments in recent months is available at:
Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
Top Uvalde officials wanted to highlight the heroics of officers at Robb Elementary. The state police director refused to do so.
By J. David Goodman, July 15, 2022
Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said that officers had enough firepower to confront the gunman within three minutes of his entering the school in Uvalde. Credit...Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The New York Times
HOUSTON — Days after the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the leaders of the grieving city fumed during a closed-door meeting with Steven McCraw, the state’s top police official.
They objected to Mr. McCraw’s public criticism of the response by city police officers to the May 24 massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers and, in a one-page document, laid out their own version of events, one that praised the officers for initially rushing to the gunfire and saving hundreds of other children in the school.
The document prepared by Uvalde officials and labeled “narrative” was obtained by The New York Times after a public information request. Its account of events differed in significant aspects from the one described by Mr. McCraw’s agency, the Department of Public Safety, which is leading the police investigation into the shooting and the law enforcement response.
The Uvalde officials pushed the document across the table to Mr. McCraw, asking him to publicly endorse it, according to a state police official who requested anonymity to describe the meeting on June 2. Mr. McCraw refused.
The heated encounter at Uvalde City Hall, which has not been previously reported, was among the earliest indications of a simmering feud between state and local officials that has since exploded into public view over who should be blamed for the 77 minutes it took heavily armed officers to kill the gunman after he first entered Robb Elementary School.
The competing accounts have obscured the actions of the police and angered the victims’ families, who have pleaded for reliable information. The clearest picture yet is expected to come on Sunday when a Texas House committee is set to report the results of its investigation, one of several overlapping inquiries into what took place.
The committee’s report was expected to spread blame beyond Chief Pete Arredondo, the head of the small Uvalde school district police force who Mr. McCraw has said was principally responsible for a law enforcement response that he has called an “abject failure.”
Instead, the committee was expected to find fault broadly among the several law enforcement agencies and officers that responded, including dozens of officers from the U.S. Border Patrol, the local sheriff’s office and the Department of Public Safety, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
The conclusion, the person said, would be that the delayed response was not one person’s failure, but rather that of dozens of trained officers and supervisors. Nobody knew what was going on and nobody tried to take charge, the person said, citing failures of inaction and communication by the agencies.
Such a finding would echo what others have already concluded after studying the sometimes contradictory versions of events offered by state and local officials.
“There was no incident commander, that’s the truth of the matter — it was complete system failure,” said State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents the area and has been critical of the version presented by the state police that holds no other law enforcement agencies accountable. “Why didn’t they take command and control of the situation?” he asked.
Mr. McCraw had said that Chief Arredondo had been in charge at the scene and had made “the wrong decision” in treating the gunman as barricaded inside the classroom — a situation that would call for a more careful, tactical approach — rather than as someone who was actively shooting and whom officers are trained to immediately confront. Chief Arredondo has not spoken publicly but said in an interview with The Texas Tribune that he did not see himself as the incident commander.
In the account the Uvalde officials laid out in their narrative, they focused on the quick arrival of officers at the school and their success in containing the gunman inside a pair of connected classrooms while clearing children from the rest of the school. They described a scene that was dangerous to officers and a response that was not chaotic but focused on getting children to safety.
“There was zero hesitation on any of these officers’ part, they moved directly toward the gunfire,” the document said, only to be repelled when the gunman fired at them. Two of the officers were grazed by debris from the gunfire.
“The total number of persons saved by the heroes that are local law enforcement and the other assisting agencies is over 500 per U.C.I.S.D.,” the document said, referring to Chief Arredondo’s department, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police force. “But for U.P.D. and U.C.I.S.D. being on scene IMMEDIATELY, that shooter would have had free range on the school.”
The document also said that specially trained Border Patrol agents had been pushing to clear the other classrooms first. “BORTAC insisted that all the rooms be cleared, i.e. all the children and teachers be removed, PRIOR to use of the shields and breach of Room 112,” the document said.
“Absent the shields, every U.P.D. officer was of the opinion that breaching the door was suicide and every Texas Ranger or D.P.S. agent who took their statements agreed,” the document read. “Not a single officer present, including D.P.S. troopers and Texas Rangers, believed that they could save lives by approaching that door and being killed one by one.”
That description conflicted with the account Mr. McCraw has presented of officers not following standard training, developed after the deadly shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, that calls for officers to quickly confront a gunman and end the shooting. At a hearing in the State Capitol last month, Mr. McCraw said officers had enough firepower to confront the gunman within three minutes of his entering the school, but had been prevented from doing so by Chief Arredondo.
The Uvalde officials, in their document, made no reference to a lack of keys as a reason for the delayed confrontation with the gunman, which Chief Arredondo had said in his interview was another big reason for the delay.
Instead, they defended the protracted response, saying that the extended time period before confronting the gunman was “not wasted but each minute was used to save lives of children and teachers.”
Some of the footage from the scene raises questions about the city’s account.
Video from the hallway of Robb Elementary — which was reviewed by The Times last month and published by The Austin American-Statesman this week — made clear that shields began arriving in the hallway outside the classrooms long before the officers moved in.
And several Border Patrol agents had expressed frustration at the lengthy delay in getting clearance to enter the classroom, a person briefed on the investigation told The Times.
The gathering at Uvalde City Hall had been arranged by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office because of rising tensions between Uvalde officials, including Mayor Don McLaughlin and the county judge, Bill Mitchell, and state police officials.
By that point, more than a week after the shooting, Mr. McLaughlin had requested that the Justice Department conduct its own review of the shooting, an indication that he did not trust the state police to impartially review the actions by officers.
And several key points about the shooting and the police response had already changed during a series of news conferences convened by the state. For instance, Mr. Abbott, speaking in Uvalde a day after the massacre, said that “the reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do,” and praised “their quick response.” The governor later said he had been “misled” about the facts.
After the video from the hallway emerged, Mr. Abbott told reporters on Thursday that “none of the information in that video was shared with me on that day.”
Also in attendance at the June meeting was the local district attorney, Christina Mitchell Busbee, and the Uvalde city attorney. The mayor, county judge and local district attorney did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the state police declined to comment.
Mr. Abbott’s chief of staff attended the meeting, as did his general counsel, who sought to play the role of mediators.
But things quickly went off the rails, the senior official said.
The Uvalde officials voiced their strong displeasure with Mr. McCraw. Early in the roughly hourlong meeting, the city attorney presented the document, which was the product of interviews with police officers who responded to the scene, the senior official said. The Uvalde officials wanted Mr. McCraw to have another news conference in which he would present the narrative from the document. He told them he did not agree with its summary, the senior official said.
Ms. Busbee, the district attorney, also objected to its release and argued the point with the city attorney, the senior official said. Some in the room raised their voices.
“I objected to the release of any information given that the Texas Rangers had only begun their investigation and there was no way to assess whether that narrative was accurate,” Ms. Busbee said in an email. “I was concerned with the release of inaccurate or incomplete information that would adversely affect the investigation and further traumatize the families.”
The document was not made public at the time.
By Maureen Dowd, July 16, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/16/opinion/ireland-abortion-roe.html
GALWAY, Ireland — I came to Ireland four years ago to cover the searing story of the Scarlet Letter in the Emerald Isle.
Back then, Ireland had a harsh abortion law, shaped by the views of the Catholic Church. The Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, added in 1983, gave fetuses rights equal to the mother’s, ensuring abortion would be illegal, even in cases of rape or incest. Anyone getting the procedure or buying abortion pills online faced up to 14 years in prison. Women were forced to sneak out of the country and go to London if they wanted abortions. Some women went to loan sharks to get the money to travel.
In 2018, a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment roiled Ireland with turbulent arguments on a subject that had been subterranean for eons. Edna O’Brien captured the tortured drama in her novel “Down by the River,” based on the sensational 1992 case of a 14-year-old who was raped by a friend’s father and became suicidal when she was barred from leaving the country to get an abortion. She later miscarried.
There was also the heart-wrenching 2012 story of Savita Halappanavar, who rushed to a Galway hospital in distress the day after her baby shower. She was told that her 17-week-old fetus was going to die. As she went into septic shock, she begged the medical team to remove the fetus and save her life. One midwife coldly reminded her that she was in “a Catholic country.” She died after her stillborn infant. The horror of that case galvanized the Emerald Isle.
I felt grateful as I covered the referendum, which passed resoundingly, that I lived in a more enlightened America, which had long had the protection of Roe.
Now I am back and stunned that Ireland and the United States have traded places. Ireland leaped into modernity, rejecting religious reactionaries’ insistence on controlling women’s bodies. America lurched backward, ruled by religious reactionaries’ insistence on controlling women’s bodies.
Once, Ireland seemed obsessed with punishing women. Now it’s America.
During the repeal debate, I had dinner in Dublin with prominent women from both sides of the issue. It got passionate.
Una Mullally, a columnist for The Irish Times, was there that night, making the case for repeal. I talked to her on Thursday, curious to see what she thought about Ireland and America swapping roles: Ireland growing less benighted; America more so. Ireland less influenced by the dictates of the Catholic Church; America more influenced, reflecting the views of the five right-wing Catholics on the Supreme Court and Neil Gorsuch, an Episcopalian who was raised Catholic. Ireland once had too much church in the state. Now America does.
“If you had told me 15 years ago that abortion would be legal in Ireland and illegal in many parts of the United States, I would have suggested that you see a psychiatrist,” said Niall O’Dowd, the founder of Irishcentral.com and author of “A New Ireland: How Europe’s Most Conservative Country Became Its Most Liberal.” He mused darkly, “Now that the world has turned upside down, there will be charter flights from America to Ireland for abortions.”
Mullally called it painful to watch but not surprising. “I thought this was going to happen,” she said, citing Donald Trump’s inflammatory claim during a 2016 debate that Hillary Clinton’s stance on abortion meant “You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.” Trump also said in an interview that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions, later amending it to say that doctors should be punished. “I thought, ‘That’s it,’” Mullally recalled. “People thought there was this American dream but it’s clearly becoming more of an American nightmare.”
She is mystified at the weak response of President Biden and the Democrats, calling it “appeasement” and “magical thinking,” given that Trump and the Republicans had spent years loading the courts with conservatives who were restricting abortion.
“Democrats saying, ‘Women’s rights are on the ballot’ and ‘Vote in November!’ is offensive,” she said. “This is not about votes for your party. Nothing is as important as bodily autonomy. And November? This happened in June. People should be out on the streets. Rape victims are crossing state lines.” That includes the horrifying case of the 10-year-old in Ohio who was raped and had to travel to Indiana to get an abortion.
A segment of Americans never accepted Roe; it was the source of endless, divisive battles. But in Ireland, legalized abortion seems to be accepted; some doctors don’t offer it; others will. And the church isn’t fighting back much; its power was decimated by the pedophile priest scandal.
“As the Irish feminist Ailbhe Smyth said, the greatest victory in 2018 was that the referendum carried without the country being split,” Mullally said. “It’s about creating an empathetic framework of discourse so that people are not at each other’s throats.”
She gets it. Why don’t we?
By Dov Fox, July 17, 2022
Mr. Fox, a professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law and director of its Center for Health Law Policy and Bioethics, is the author of “Medical Disobedience.”
Days after Texas banned most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy in September 2021, Dr. Alan Braid disclosed that he had “provided an abortion to a woman, who though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state’s new limit.” Dr. Braid wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece that when he was a medical resident before Roe v. Wade, he had seen “teenagers die from illegal abortions. One I will never forget. When she came into the ER, her vaginal cavity was packed with rags. She died a few days later from massive organ failure, caused by a septic infection.” Dr. Braid resolved, “I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
Since Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overruled Roe, many clinicians around the country will be risking their careers and freedom if they provide abortion care. Seventeen states have enacted near-total bans on abortion, or they’re trying to. Many of these bans allow almost no exceptions, including for rape or a woman’s health. Now providers who illegally terminate a pregnancy face punishments that range from a suspension on practicing medicine to a $100,000 fine to a life sentence in prison.
Michigan’s chief medical executive, Natasha Bagdasarian, has written that these laws force doctors to choose between breaking the law and “breaking the oath we have taken on behalf of our patients.” A Missouri obstetrician-gynecologist, David Eisenberg, said on “The Daily” podcast before Roe fell that his professional commitment to make abortion care available to patients in need is “a part of my moral and religious worldview.” He added, “I am a conscientious provider.”
Though Dr. Eisenberg did not say he would break any laws, some doctors who identify as conscientious providers in post-Roe America may seek to provide abortions in violation of state laws, just as many did before Roe. A federal statute ought to protect clinician conscience in principled ways — not only for those who deny care, but also for those who deliver it.
And if lawmakers won’t protect conscientious providers, then judges should. Courts can recognize a legal defense of medical disobedience that would significantly reduce the punitive sanctions that some states impose for supplying clinically reasonable services in the name of conscience. This partial defense should also waive possible collateral consequences of a felony conviction, such as license revocation and disenfranchisement. That mitigation would go a long way to repair the one-sided exemptions already entrenched across the United States.
The American legal regime that governs medical conscience is broken. While conscientious providers find virtually no refuge in the conscience clauses that are codified in almost every state, refusers are protected almost categorically. And just about all of these conscience laws are reserved for denials of care. Conscientious refusers are often shielded from being fired, disciplined, held liable or found guilty for violating standards of care and endangering patients, even in serious ways. Conscientious refusers usually don’t have to tell patients about their options, or help them to access care elsewhere. But few protections exist for doctors who have equally conscientious reasons to provide abortions.
To be sure, there are crucial differences among the various services that conscientious providers might seek to supply. Some are safer or more effective than others. Some require costly facilities and staff, while others involve nothing more than a prescription pad. Some fall squarely within the medical norm, while others push its boundaries, or cross them.
These particulars matter. But the moral commitment to treat patients can be just as sincere and noble as the values that move other doctors to turn patients away. Even more important: Conscientious providers honor patients’ wishes, while conscientious refusers override them.
Yet all too often, only the consciences of refusers count in the eyes of the law. This asymmetry drives desperate patients underground and selectively burdens conscientious providers. It’s true that accommodating conscientious providers would undermine the government’s considered judgment that people shouldn’t have access to the health care the government has prohibited. But on particularly fraught questions — about life and death, impairment and identity — freedom of conscience in medicine can sometimes be important enough to shore up deserving appeals. This can be true even at the expense of other state interests, so long as accommodations are constrained by whatever harms they inflict on other people.
One reason to protect conscience in medicine is to preserve the moral integrity of clinicians who claim it. This applies to conscientious providers, too. Forcing doctors and nurses to stand by and do nothing to help patients in need flies in the face of clinicians’ fundamental charge to heal, promote health and relieve suffering. Also, openness to conscientious dissent, within limits, lets a pluralistic society adapt to moral change from the inside.
Congress or the courts should recognize a partial defense of medical disobedience. This defense shouldn’t be available to every clinician who invokes conscience to provide prohibited care. In the related context of religion, the Supreme Court has adopted a know-it-when-I-see-it test for whether someone’s putative beliefs qualify as genuine and morally weighty. That test would exclude “an asserted claim so bizarre,” odious or self-interested “as not to be entitled to protection.”
And doctors would have to show more than that they acted out of deeply held convictions. The care that they conscientiously provide must also be medically indicated and come with the informed consent of a patient or an appropriate surrogate. So a mercy killing of someone who had been pressured to exercise the option wouldn’t qualify. Nor would any intervention whose benefits haven’t been proven worth the risks through peer-reviewed studies or clinical practice. The requirement that care be clinically reasonable would rule out conscience claims to undertake the discredited conversion therapy that at least 20 states prohibit to try to turn gay kids straight. Other cases are closer calls. Bans on puberty blockers are passed or pending in some states to affirm a minor’s gender identity, though the evidence is still out about long-term risks to fertility and bone density.
America’s culture wars leave many people convinced that conscience has come to represent little more than a card that defeated camps play when they have nothing else to lose. But it can be more than that. States vigorously safeguard the consciences of refusers. Congress and the courts ought to protect the consciences of providers, too. It has been over a century since judges flexed their common-law authority to introduce any major category of mitigation. Dobbs gives reason to recover that muscle memory and recognize a limited defense of medical disobedience.
By Tracey A. Wilkinson, July 15, 2022
Dr. Wilkinson is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine.
Haris Mulaosmanovic/Getty Images
Earlier this week I was preparing to write a guest essay with my colleague Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an OB-GYN here in Indiana. We wanted to write about the chilling effect that the overturning of Roe v. Wade has had on medicine in our state and around the country in just a few short weeks. But then Dr. Bernard became a target of a national smear campaign for speaking out about her 10-year-old patient, a rape victim from Ohio who needed an abortion and had to travel to Indiana to receive one, given the restrictions in her home state.
On Wednesday night, our state’s attorney general said his office would be investigating Dr. Bernard. So I’m writing this essay myself — not only to bring attention to the chilling effect on medicine we’re seeing at this moment but also because I’m terrified that I or any one of our colleagues could soon face what Dr. Bernard is going through after delivering care to our patients.
When we talk about the importance of reproductive health care in the lives of our patients, we sometimes weave in patient stories to humanize the often complex legal and medical concepts for the audience. Dr. Bernard told the story of her patient from Ohio as an example of how abortion bans can affect the most vulnerable.
The attacks on her were instantaneous and fierce. Multiple state attorneys general and high-profile conservatives suggested that Dr. Bernard was a liar. Pundits questioned her integrity, and articles in numerous news outlets cast doubt on the story, with The Wall Street Journal editorial board declaring it a “fanciful tale” that was “too good to confirm.”
On Wednesday, a suspect in the Ohio rape case was arraigned after reportedly confessing. But the attacks against Dr. Bernard have continued. Indiana’s attorney general said on Fox News on Wednesday evening that his office is investigating her, despite the fact that the abortion the 10-year-old patient received was legal in the state. The network showed Dr. Bernard’s photo on the air. On Thursday, The Indianapolis Star reported that she had filed the requisite paperwork associated with the procedure.
Political attacks on abortion providers are, of course, nothing new. And that’s not all that providers and their staff face: They have been targeted, harassed and in some cases even murdered for providing legal health care to their patients; some types of attacks against them recently have increased. This moment, post-Roe v. Wade, feels particularly frightening and is chilling to anyone who cares for patients, especially anyone providing reproductive health care.
This saga has had real-world repercussions for Dr. Bernard. The local police have been alerted to concerns for her physical safety.
My colleagues and I have watched all this in horror. We are worried that this could happen to us, too. A law that recently went into effect in Indiana mandates that doctors, hospitals and abortion clinics report to the state when a patient who has previously had an abortion presents any of dozens of physical or psychological conditions — including anxiety, depression, sleeping disorders and uterine perforation — because they could be complications of the previous abortion. Not doing so within 30 days can result in a misdemeanor for the physician who treated the patient, punishable with up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The law is written so broadly that a primary care provider who sees a patient with depression, an anesthesiologist whose patient has an allergic reaction to a medication or a radiologist who notes a patient has free fluid in the abdomen could be punished with a fine and jail time if they don’t report these things as possible complications of that person’s prior abortion. Any health care provider so charged could easily become a target of national attention, with attacks against them professionally and personally.
While clinicians are generally required to have malpractice insurance, such coverage does not typically cover expenses related to criminal charges. And while malpractice insurance often covers legal counsel during a malpractice claim, the same is not true for criminal charges. In addition to those tangible repercussions of such charges, physicians are at professional and financial risk that could end their careers and affect their families. Health care systems must not abandon their physicians when they are most at risk, in order to avoid bad press.
Laws like these are too often written by politicians without medical expertise, and too often use medically inaccurate definitions. Lawmakers can claim that the laws aren’t intended to hurt patients, but they instill fear in providers that will have implications for patients nonetheless.
It’s worth noting that all of this is happening in Indiana, which is currently more accepting of abortion and care for pregnant women than some of its neighboring states. It’s worse next door; for now Indiana is a haven for some patients in the region who need care. This is expected to change when lawmakers in our state begin a special session later this month and attempt to pass further abortion restrictions, possibly including a near total ban. It is unclear if that legislation will include exceptions for rape or incest.
Our medical and ethical responsibility as clinicians is grounded in delivering comprehensive, safe and evidence-based health care. If providing that care results in threats to professional and personal safety, patients will suffer. Doctors have sworn to do no harm. Clearly, many of those in power have not.
One 10-year-old became the focus of debate, but more than 1,000 girls under 15 seek abortions each year. “How are we going to help the pregnant kids?”
By Dana Goldstein and Ava Sasani, July 16, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/16/us/abortion-bans-children.html
She was just 10 years old, so young that many people were horrified when they heard it, and others refused to believe it. But the ordeal of the child rape victim in Ohio who had to cross state lines for an abortion, and the ugly political fight that followed, have highlighted two uncomfortable facts: Such pregnancies are not as rare as people think, and new abortion bans are likely to have a pronounced impact on the youngest pregnant girls.
New bans in nearly a dozen states do not make exceptions for rape or incest, leaving young adolescents — already among the most restricted in their abortion options — with less access to the procedure. Even in states with exemptions for rape and incest, requirements involving police reports and parental consent can be prohibitive for children and teenagers.
“The situation out of Ohio is in no way unique,” said Katie McHugh, an OB-GYN in Indiana and board member of the group Physicians for Reproductive Health, which favors abortion rights. “This is a situation that every abortion provider has seen before.”
The number of pregnancies in the United States among girls under the age of 15 has fallen sharply in recent decades with greater access to contraception and a drop in adolescent sexual activity. But state and federal data suggest there are still thousands of such cases each year. And nearly half of these pregnancies end in abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights and surveys clinics regularly.
In 2017, the last year for which data was available, the institute concluded there were 4,460 pregnancies among girls under 15, with about 44 percent ending in abortion. In Ohio alone, 52 girls under 15 received an abortion in 2020 — an average of one every week, according to the state Department of Health.
It is unclear how often these pregnancies are the result of incest or rape. Children in this age group are generally below the age of sexual consent, though sexual contact between two similar-aged young teenagers is not always considered a crime. And some states allow children to marry with parental permission.
In Ohio, sex with a person under the age of 13 is a first-degree felony. Abortion is now banned in the state after around six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
The startling age of the Ohio rape victim helped propel doubt over her story, which quickly morphed into a political firestorm after it was reported in The Indianapolis Star. Abortion rights advocates and President Biden pointed to the girl’s experience as the tragic consequence of abortion bans. Conservatives questioned whether the child existed, and even the Ohio attorney general initially said he found no evidence of such a victim.
Those questions were quelled when a 27-year-old man was charged in the child’s rape, and records showed that the doctor who provided the abortion in Indiana reported it to the state.
That doctor, Caitlin Bernard, later tweeted, “My heart breaks for all survivors of sexual assault and abuse. I am so sad that our country is failing them when they need us most.”
Lauren Ralph, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said her research shows that adolescents who seek abortion tend to be firm in their choice but face barriers such as lack of transportation, and parental notification and consent laws, which exist in the majority of states. Minors who seek to avoid parental notification, such as in the case of incest or when a parent would seek to compel pregnancy, are often required to file a police report or appear before a judge.
Those are high and sometimes impossible bars to clear, experts said, especially for individuals without legal assistance, and young victims who may have been hurt by the adults closest to them.
With some Americans living up to 400 miles away from the nearest legal abortion provider, the new state bans stand to affect teenagers severely.
“We know that young people already faced many more barriers to accessing abortion prior to the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Dr. Ralph said. “What will happen with this decision is that those barriers for young people living in restricted states will now multiply.”
Dr. Bernard, the Indiana OB-GYN who provided an abortion for the 10-year-old Ohio girl, said in an interview in early July, before the political firestorm erupted, that she had experience treating other very young rape victims.
The hardest case of her career, she said, was one where a mother brought her 14-year-old daughter in for an appointment after the girl was raped. The mother wanted her daughter to have an abortion.
“But the patient said, ‘I don’t want to kill my baby,’” Dr. Bernard recalled. “She felt as though abortion was wrong.”
Dr. Bernard said she told the mother that she could not perform the abortion without the 14-year-old’s verbal consent. Eventually, the mother persuaded her daughter to undergo the procedure.
Indiana, which currently allows abortions at up to 22 weeks, may enact its own stricter limits soon in a special legislative session scheduled for late July.
In Oklahoma, a law that bans nearly all abortions makes exceptions for cases of rape or incest, but only if those crimes have been reported to law enforcement.
Wendi Stearman, the Republican legislator behind that Oklahoma law, defended high barriers for exceptions.
As for the 10-year-old in Ohio, “It’s horrific, what happened there,” she said. “But even more horrific is taking the life of another child.”
Ms. Spearman said laws should not cater to worst-case scenarios.
“Laws should be made for the general, and that is an incredibly rare instance,” she said.
It is not uncommon for some anti-abortion lawmakers and organizations to oppose rape exceptions to abortion bans, sometimes even in the case of child victims. In a statement praising the arrest of a 27-year-old suspect in the Ohio case, Ohio Right to Life expressed concern for the young girl and her family but called her abortion a “band-aid solution” that “only added to the pain and violence perpetuated against her. The victim deserved better.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said, “The violence of rape will not be cured by the violence of abortion. The love and support that this child needs will be ongoing, not momentary.”
Yet abortion providers and doctors who care for the youngest patients say that approach fails to recognize the needs and desires of young victims and their families.
In Colorado, Kristina Tocce, medical director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said she had provided an abortion to a 13-year-old incest victim and had recently treated her youngest patient ever: an 11-year-old Texan who flew to Denver for an abortion alongside a parent. Though that patient was treated before Roe was overturned, the child was forced to leave Texas because the state had found a legal workaround to ban abortions after six weeks of gestation, without exceptions for rape or incest.
It was the 11-year-old’s first time on an airplane, Dr. Tocce said.
In Texas, state records show over 200 children aged 15 and younger received abortions in 2021, before the ban was passed. One of those patients was 11 or younger, and 30 were 12 or 13 years old.
Dr. Tocce predicted an influx of patients in Colorado, where abortion remains legal without a gestational limit. Even in states that allow for the procedure in cases of rape or incest, the burden of proving that patients qualify for an exemption may intimidate providers, who will not want to risk prosecution, she noted.
“Those exceptions are in print, only they essentially mean nothing when everyone who practices there is too afraid,” she said.
In Madison, Wis., Jennifer Ginsburg, executive director of the Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, said she was saddened but unsurprised to hear the story of the Ohio victim.
Just a few months earlier, her center, which works with victims of child abuse, had referred a 10-year-old girl, impregnated by her stepfather, for an abortion at Planned Parenthood.
Ms. Ginsburg and her team provide counseling and support for young abuse victims and their family members, while also ensuring that any forensic evaluations conducted for police investigations do not compound a child’s trauma. If a victim wanted an abortion, the center would help connect them to nearby providers.
But shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe, doctors in Wisconsin halted abortion services. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, is battling Wisconsin’s Republican-led Legislature over the validity of a century-old law that criminalizes nearly all abortions, including those that are the result of rape and incest. Mr. Evers and his attorney general have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the ban.
Ms. Ginsburg said Safe Harbor was not waiting for the results of the governor’s suit. She was planning with other local organizations to assist young victims in traveling out of state for an abortion — a plan that advocates are increasingly turning toward as more states outlaw the procedure.
“How are we going to help the pregnant kids?” she asked.
Margot Sanger-Katz contributed reporting.
The three men were convicted as teenagers for killing a subway token clerk after setting the booth ablaze, but New York police detectives elicited false confessions from them, prosecutors say.
By Sean Piccoli and Ed Shanahan, July 15, 2022
Vincent Ellerbe, left, watches as Thomas Malik and James Irons embrace their lawyers after the three men were cleared. Credit...Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times
The killing was shocking even for a New York City awash in violence at the time.
Around 1 a.m. on Nov. 26, 1995, two men approached a subway token booth in Brooklyn, poured gas through the slot and lit a book of matches. The resulting explosion leveled the structure and sent the clerk inside flying, his body in flames. He died two weeks later.
Three teenagers, Vincent Ellerbe, James Irons and Thomas Malik, subsequently confessed to the crime, were convicted of second-degree murder and were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
On Friday, a state court judge cleared the three, much older now, at the request of the Brooklyn district attorney, who said his office had determined the confessions were false and had been coerced by detectives whose work in dozens of other cases has come under scrutiny.
“The findings of an exhaustive, years long re-investigation of this case leave us unable to stand by the convictions of those charged,” the district attorney, Eric Gonzalez, said in a news release, adding that there were “serious problems with the evidence on which these convictions are based.”
In vacating the convictions, the judge, Matthew J. D’Emic, freed Mr. Irons and Mr. Malik, both 45, from prison. Mr. Ellerbe, 44, was released on parole in 2020.
Speaking to a courtroom packed with relatives and supporters, Mr. Ellerbe delivered an emotional account of his life behind bars. He said he has a 26-year-old daughter who grew up without him, and that he had developed epilepsy while in prison.
“Twenty-five years I had to look in the mirror knowing that I was in prison for something I had nothing to do with,” he said in a quiet, sometimes halting voice. As he spoke, Mr. Malik’s wife, Michele, wept openly.
“The penitentiary breaks you or turns you into a monster,” Mr. Ellerbe added, “and I had to become something I’m not just to survive.”
Mr. Ellerbe was 17 when he was arrested; Mr. Irons and Mr. Malik were 18. In addition to pressuring them into confessing, Mr. Gonzalez said, the lead detectives, Louis Scarcella and Stephen Chmil, failed to divulge the shaky nature of witness identifications and ignored factual inconsistencies in evidence and in the young men’s confessions.
For Mr. Scarcella, who retired in 1999, the dismissal of the convictions was another blemish on a career during which he led a unit that handled some of the most high-profile crimes and investigated more than 500 homicides a year.
His reputation began to crumble in 2013 after one of his most celebrated investigations — into the murder of a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood — unraveled amid defense claims that he had framed a suspect.
Despite Mr. Scarcella’s insistence that he had done nothing wrong, the district attorney’s office began a review of about 70 of his cases. The inquiry has so far resulted in more than a dozen exonerations — roughly a third of the 33 the district attorney’s office Conviction Review Unit has spawned since 2014 — and New York City has paid tens of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits stemming from cases in which he was involved.
Richard E. Signorelli, a lawyer who has represented Mr. Scarcella in such suits, said the retired detective had “an exemplary career with the Police Department” and “unequivocally denies all accusations of wrongdoing in this case.”
Police officials did not respond to a request for comment on the exonerations or to a question about whether they planned to reopen its investigation into who killed the clerk, Harry Kaufman, a 22-year transit veteran.
The killing of Mr. Kaufman, 50, reverberated well beyond New York, in part because it occurred several days after the opening of the movie “Money Train,” which featured a scene depicting a similar crime.
The deadly assault, at the Kingston-Throop Avenues station in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, was one of seven such fire attacks on token booths in the days after the movie's release.
Bob Dole, the Senate majority leader at the time and Republican presidential candidate, called for a boycott of the film in the wake of the attack, although the authorities never established whether it was inspired by the fictional crime.
Speaking in court on Friday, Lori Glachman, an assistant district attorney, said Mr. Kaufman had been “working overtime to earn money to send his son to college” when he was killed in what she called “a heinous, heinous crime.” Still, she said, investigators had reached the “inescapable conclusion” that the convictions “cannot stand.”
Mr. Irons’s lawyer, David Shanies, said the police had subjected his client to “threats, lies, sleep deprivation and physical violence.” And, while he thanked the district attorney’s office for its work, he also criticized it for a “carefully tailored” set of conclusions that discredited only the police, remaining silent on the prosecutors’ conduct.
A spokesman for Mr. Gonzalez, Oren Yaniv, said the review had found no violation of rules requiring that prosecutors share exculpatory information with defense lawyers.
Ronald L. Kuby, who represented Mr. Malik at trial and in his quest for exoneration, said on Friday that coerced confessions of the type Mr. Scarcella and Mr. Chmil were accused of extracting in the case would be unlikely now because such interviews are videotaped.
That and other criminal justice reforms in the intervening years, he said, would have spared his clients, so “the actual people who murdered Harry Kaufman may have been captured.”
Reached by phone on Friday, Mr. Kaufman’s widow and son expressed a range of emotions about the turn of events, which they said they had only been made aware of on Thursday.
“If they didn’t do it, who did?” Mr. Kaufman’s son, Adrian, said, adding that he was skeptical that anyone else would be charged in the killing. “I don’t think there will be justice brought for his family.”
His mother, Stella Kaufman, echoed that sentiment.
“Everybody wants to know how I feel,” she said. “I feel like there’s no justice for Harry.”
Kirsten Noyes contributed research.
The decision to finally confront the gunman was made by a small group of officers and could have been made far earlier, the report found.
By J. David Goodman and Edgar Sandoval, July 17, 2022
Vincent Salazar, center, grandfather of Layla Salazar, who was killed at Robb Elementary, holds a report released by the Texas House investigative committee on the shooting. Credit...Eric Gay/Associated Press
HOUSTON — The first comprehensive assessment of the law enforcement response to the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, found that blame for the failure to swiftly confront the gunman rested not only with the school police chief, but also with the scores of state and federal officers who gathered at the deadly scene but did not act.
The 77-page report, released Sunday by a special Texas House committee, represented a broad indictment of police inaction at Robb Elementary School, citing “systemic failures” that left the school inadequately secured and the police officers who responded mired in confusion and bad information.
Nearly 400 officers responded to the school that day. Yet the decision to finally confront the gunman was made by a small group of officers, including specially trained Border Patrol agents and a deputy sheriff from a neighboring county, the report found, concluding that others at the scene could have taken charge and done so far earlier.
The findings represented the most complete outside account of what took place during the 77 minutes between when the gunman began firing inside the classrooms and when the police finally stormed in and ended the May 24 massacre that left 19 students and two teachers dead.
But the report found that a flawless police response would not have saved most of the victims, who suffered devastating injuries when they were shot with a high-powered AR-15-style rifle by a gunman who had been waiting for his 18th birthday to purchase the weapon legally.
Some died on the way to the hospital, the report noted, adding in a final footnote that “it is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait” for rescue.
“If there’s only one thing that I can tell you is, there were multiple systemic failures,” State Representative Dustin Burrows, who spearheaded the investigation, said at a news conference on Sunday. “Several officers in the hallway or in that building knew or should have known there was dying in that classroom, and they should have done more, acted with urgency.”
Mr. Burrows added that it would be up to the individual agencies to hold their officers accountable. The goal of the committee, he said, was to provide relatives of the victims and the public with information.
The officers waited, the report found, even as at least one high-ranking official — the acting chief of the Uvalde Police Department — learned that a teacher was wounded but still alive and that a child had been calling 911 for help from inside the classrooms. The committee found that none of the officers who learned of the calls advocated for “shifting to an active shooter-style response or otherwise acting more urgently to breach the classrooms.”
After the report came out, the mayor of Uvalde, Don McLaughlin, said the acting chief during the shooting, Lt. Mariano Pargas, had been placed on administrative leave and that the city had begun its own internal investigation. The city released body camera footage documenting the actions of the Uvalde officers at the scene.
The facts laid out in the report also made clear that neither existing gun laws, nor expanded background checks passed by Congress in response to the shooting, would have prevented the gunman, Salvador Ramos, from obtaining the weapon he used.
Though referred to by some peers as a “school shooter,” the gunman had no documented history that prevented him from purchasing a weapon. The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature has so far not considered any legislation restricting firearms in response to the Uvalde shooting, focusing much of its attention during public hearings on the police response and on security at schools.
While the narrative presented by the committee added disturbing new details, it did not substantially change the public understanding of what took place at Robb Elementary School as it has been pieced together by The New York Times and other news organizations over the intervening weeks.
Instead, it deepened the sense of a rudderless law enforcement response.
Officers massed on the north and south sides of the classrooms where the gunman was holed up, but they did not communicate with one another, the report found. Despite a search for a master key to the classrooms by the school police chief, Pete Arredondo, and others, no one called the principal, who had one. The usefulness of a specialized tool to pry open the door was tested but then rejected as too dangerous to officers.
The chief of the Uvalde police department called from his vacation to tell the acting chief, Lieutenant Pargas, to set up a command post. Mr. Pargas did so, in an office at a funeral home across the street, but then left it shortly thereafter. “This did not result in the establishment of an effective command post,” the report found.
The report found that of the four ballistics shields brought to the scene, “only the last shield, furnished by the U.S. Marshals, was rifle-rated.” It arrived at 12:21 p.m. — nearly 50 minutes after the gunman began shooting.
The findings served to clarify and solidify what had been a frequently shifting official account of events at the school. The report found that one reason that flawed information made its way into an initial news conference, held by Gov. Greg Abbott the day after the shooting, was that a Uvalde police lieutenant who had been at the scene and was supposed to brief the governor “literally passed out while waiting in the hallway beforehand.” A regional director for the state police held the briefing instead, but his information was secondhand, the report said.
Still, the facts of what unfolded were unclear even to some of the participants, the report found.
For example, one of the first officers at the school, a Uvalde police officer armed with an AR-15-style rifle, arrived to the sound of gunfire and saw a person dressed in black. The officer took cover, believing the person to be the gunman, and later told other officers who responded and investigators that he had not tried to fire at the person because of children nearby.
But the person had not been the gunman, the report found, but rather a school coach hustling children to safety.
False information spread among the officers who arrived outside, according to the report, and “likely prevented some of them from taking a more assertive role.”
The committee reached a more expansive conclusion about the nature of the failures than the one offered by the director of the state police, Steven McCraw, who has placed the blame in his public statements squarely on Mr. Arredondo.
The report found the “egregious poor decision making” went beyond Mr. Arredondo and included the dozens of well-armed officers from Mr. McCraw’s own agency, the Department of Public Safety, as well as the scores from the U.S. Border Patrol. Spokesmen for both agencies did not respond to requests for comment.
While many of the officers interviewed by the committee said that they considered Mr. Arredondo to be the incident commander, others said they were not aware of who was in charge, the report said, creating a chaotic vacuum of leadership that the larger state and federal agencies could have moved to fill but did not.
“Despite an obvious atmosphere of chaos, the ranking officers of other responding agencies did not approach the Uvalde C.I.S.D. chief of police,” the report said, referring to Mr. Arredondo, “or anyone else perceived to be in command to point out the lack of and need for a command post, or to offer that specific assistance.”
Yet even as details became clearer, the larger contours of what is known about the deadly event remained the same: The gunman entered the school without being confronted by any officer, through one of three exterior doors that were not locked, and went directly to the classrooms where he began shooting.
A lockdown alert was sent to school staff at the school, according to the report, but the staff might not have acted with urgency during the lockdown because of the frequent alerts related to nearby police chases and deliberate crashes of vehicles suspected of carrying undocumented migrants, known as “bailouts.” Not seeing any injured students in the hallways, one sergeant told the committee he thought it might be a “bailout” situation, the report said.
Still, as seen on a surveillance video released as part of the report, local police officers, including Mr. Arredondo, arrived minutes later but retreated down a hallway after being met with gunfire at the doorway to one of the classrooms. Even as more heavily armed officers arrived, along with ballistic shields, they did not attempt to enter the classroom again for over an hour.
That was the “wrong decision,” Mr. McCraw said in the days after, saying the call to do so had been made by Mr. Arredondo, who he said was the incident commander.
Mr. Arredondo told the committee that he did not consider himself to be in that role during the massacre and thought someone else would take that role. But the committee found that he should have been the incident commander, based on the school district’s own response plan for a school shooting, which calls for the school police chief to “become the person in control of the efforts of all law enforcement and first responders that arrive at the scene.”
Mr. Arredondo, in his own interview with the committee, said he might have acted to breach the classroom sooner had he known there were still victims alive inside. “We probably would have rallied a little more, to say, ‘Okay, someone is in there,’” he told the committee.
The school police chief “periodically attempted” to communicate with the gunman, both in English and Spanish, the report said, including immediately after four shots were fired inside the classroom.
“Mr. Ramos? Can you hear us, Mr. Ramos? Please respond,” Mr. Arredondo could be heard saying, according to a transcript reviewed by The Times.
The breakdown in communications was such that the acting Uvalde police chief, Lieutenant Pargas, told the committee that he was never in communication with Mr. Arredondo.
By the time the specialized Border Patrol agents, known as BORTAC, and others breached the classrooms, the report found, “tactical command inside the building had been de facto assumed by BORTAC.”
The three-member committee that prepared the report included two State House members — Mr. Burrows, a Lubbock Republican, and Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat — as well as a former state Supreme Court Justice, Eva Guzman, who recently ran an unsuccessful Republican primary bid for attorney general.
During a solemn meeting with the committee on Sunday before the report’s public release, more than 40 relatives of the 21 victims asked methodical questions about the committee’s work and a more definitive timeline of events, said Arnulfo Reyes, a teacher who survived the shooting and attended the meeting.
Jesus Rizo, the uncle of one of the victims, Jackie Cazares, said he was struck most by the lack of leadership at a time when the schoolchildren needed help the most.
“The highlight was the inadequate response, the failure of leadership,” Mr. Rizo said.
Leonard Sandoval, whose grandson Xavier Lopez died on the way to the hospital after being shot at Robb Elementary, said the report laid bare what the community had long known: that officers failed to stop the shooter in time and then released misleading information to the public.
Xavier, he later learned, had suffered a single shot in the back and was alive when the officers finally breached the classrooms. He was pronounced dead at a hospital, Mr. Sandoval said.
“We all make mistakes. We are all human. But they should have admitted to it and then resigned,” Mr. Sandoval said. “It’s the lying that hurts.”
By Charles M. Blow, July 17, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/17/opinion/carolyn-bryant-donham-memoir.html
In 1955, Carolyn Bryant Donham (then just Carolyn Bryant), a 21-year-old white woman, accused Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy, of making an unwelcome advance at her.
Those accusations led to the boy’s brutal murder. Her then-husband, Roy Bryant, and brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, were charged with the crime.
Now, the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting has obtained a copy of an unpublished memoir by Donham in which she reportedly wrote that she “tried to protect” the boy by telling her husband, “He’s not the one. That’s not him. Please take him home.”
And, in an astonishing stroke of insensitivity, she wrote that she “always felt like a victim as well as Emmett.”
Ma’am, hush! You have been alive and breathing for nearly 67 years since Till’s bloated body was fished out of the Tallahatchie River with the fan of a cotton gin tied around his neck.
Donham is now an elderly woman, but let’s be clear: Don’t shed a single tear for her.
She didn’t just accuse Till of making improper advances on the day she first encountered the boy, she upped the ante at trial, saying that Till had also physically assaulted her, grabbing her hand so hard that it was difficult to jerk it loose, and then grabbing her around her waist.
She casually called the murdered boy the N-word at trial, referring to Till as a N-word “man,” even though by the time of the trial everyone knew he was a boy.
And she wasn’t the only one to mislabel him. At one point, the defense attorney asked: “When you got your pistol, Mrs. Bryant, where was this boy then? Or I should say, where was this man?”
The adultification of Black children continues unabated as a means of justifying deadly force visited upon their bodies. When the police shot Tamir Rice in a Cleveland park within seconds of arriving on the scene, the officer who called in the shooting said, “Shots fired, male down, Black male, maybe 20.” Rice was 12 years old.
In Donham’s interview with the F.B.I. in the mid-2000s, when the case was reopened, she said that the boy accosted her, and, “As soon as he touched me, I started screaming for Juanita.” There was no screaming in the original testimony.
In his 2017 book, the historian Timothy Tyson claimed that Donham recanted parts of her trial testimony, writing: “But about her testimony that Till had grabbed her around the waist and uttered obscenities, she now told me, ‘That part’s not true.’ ”
Donham’s family denies that she recanted.
One question still lingers: Donham was involved in Till’s abduction. Till’s Uncle Moses testified at trial that when Bryant and Milam kidnapped the boy, they took him outside to their car, where a third person identified him in a voice that seemed to him “a lighter voice than a man’s.”
Late last month, an unserved arrest warrant for Donham “on a charge of kidnapping” was found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse. Yet, in a statement Donham gave in 1955, she says that she “did not go to this Negro’s house,” but instead Bryant brought the boy to her to identify.
But, according to an account by the author Douglas O. Linder, Donham was in the truck with Bryant and Milam earlier on the day of the kidnapping “looking for their target,” when they seized another Black man before throwing him out of the truck after Donham said he wasn’t the right N-word.
Then, when Bryant and Milam were acquitted at the trial, the killers kissed their wives, lit cigars and posed for pictures. Donham was one of the kissed wives. Where was the remorse? Where is it now?
Less than a year after the trial ended, in 1956, Bryant and Milam confessed to the gruesome murder in an interview in Look magazine. Still, Donham stayed married to the killer for about 20 years after Till was killed and never offered a public word about the matter.
In the memoir, she writes that when her husband brought the boy to her for identification, Till “flashed me a strange smile and said, ‘Yes, it was me,’ or something to that effect.” He didn’t act “scared in the least,” she wrote.
This, by the way, is the same reason Milam gave to Look for murdering the boy. Even though Bryant and Milam took turns pistol whipping the boy in a tool shed in the early morning, Milam said: “We were never able to scare him. They had just filled him so full of that poison that he was hopeless.”
The legal system has declined for decades to charge Donham with a crime, and on Friday an aide to the Mississippi attorney general made clear that there are no plans to reopen the case against Donham now.
But, beyond the criminal measure, Donham has failed the moral measure. She has failed at every turn to offer a redeeming word or action for the boy’s murder and her part in it. The words we’ve seen in this memoir don’t cut it.
The only sympathy I have about this case is for Emmett Till and his family. For Donham I have only questions, and contempt.
By Michelle Cottle, July 18, 2022
Shawn Brackbill for The New York Times
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When Sharon Brown answered the door of her modest town home on a recent Saturday, she was a little rude at first to the two young women standing before her. Yazmin Bruno-Valdez and Melanie Haas introduced themselves as volunteers with Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, a group that sounds conservative but is actually fighting to preserve abortion rights in the state. They were knocking on doors in Wyandotte County, one of the state’s bluer pockets, urging voters to oppose an amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would pave the way for tighter abortion restrictions, even a total ban. Ms. Bruno-Valdez offered a “Vote No” flyer explaining the measure, but Ms. Brown misunderstood which side the women were on. Rocking black fuzzy slippers and a hot pink robe, she made a disgusted face and waved the volunteers away. “I believe in abortion,” she said, moving to shut her door.
It took some fast talking for the volunteers to explain that they too value reproductive rights — that voting “no” on the amendment in fact means voting “yes” to preserving abortion access. With that clarified, Ms. Brown warmed to the discussion, sharing her prediction of the grim future an abortion ban would bring — “They are going to start finding dead babies everywhere: in trash bags, in trash cans, in toilets, in fields.” She assured the duo that she would turn out on Aug. 2, when the measure will be on the Kansas primary election ballot.
Confusion about the wording of the Republican-driven ballot measure — it’s delicately named Value Them Both, and simply figuring out what a “yes” or “no” vote means can be daunting — is just one of the hurdles that abortion rights supporters face in Kansas, which stands as the first big political test for abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June.
That ruling has turbocharged the Kansas amendment fight, which grew out of a state Supreme Court decision in 2019 that the Kansas Constitution “protects a woman’s right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy.” Money from abortion rights supporters has been flowing in, much of it from out of state, and there was a sharp increase in the state’s voter registration after the fall of Roe. TV and radio ads are up and running. The mass mailings are going out. Yards bloom with signs urging “Vote Yes!” or “Vote No.” Precincts are preparing for a surge in turnout.
Yet for all the fresh energy and attention being directed toward saving abortion in Kansas, it is hard not to feel that the reproductive-rights side is a little overwhelmed. Its most prominent player, Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, has a modest-size staff that seems to be constantly dashing around the state to this or that meeting or event. And while the group says it has plenty of volunteers, it’s not as though folks are consistently showing up in droves for canvassing events. After the door-knocking in Wyandotte County, I showed up for the launch of an afternoon event in nearby Johnson County, a politically moderate, affluent suburban enclave thought to be prime territory for the anti-amendment side. There were just a handful of people milling around. (I was assured that an earlier event had been better attended.)
This is not to disparage the yeoman’s work being done by the pro-choice forces here. But some of the challenges that Democrats and abortion rights supporters are dealing with are likely to pop up other places too, as the crucial battles on abortion shift to the state level. Lawmakers elsewhere are moving fast on the issue, including in multiple states where legislators are pushing to amend their constitutions. Just this month, the Republican-controlled legislature in Pennsylvania took the first of two votes needed to advance an amendment excluding abortion rights from its Constitution. Kansas is only the beginning.
The Sunflower State, of course, is a deeply conservative place. In Kansas, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats, 851,882 to 495,574, according to the state’s latest data. Heck, unaffiliated voters outnumber Democrats. The last Democrat Kansans backed for president was Lyndon Johnson. And while two of the past three elected governors have been Democrats (including the incumbent, Laura Kelly), Republicans enjoy a supermajority in both chambers of the State Legislature.
Nonetheless, views on abortion here are more nuanced than one might assume. A survey conducted late last year by Fort Hays State University found that only around 20 percent of Kansans supported making abortion illegal in all cases, including rape and incest. More than 62 percent said that women are “in a better position” than politicians to make decisions about whether to have an abortion, and a razor-thin majority agreed that Kansas state government should not place any regulations on abortion.
Abortion opponents have no intention of losing this fight because of such pesky nuances. And the Republican Legislature has strategically, one might even say sinisterly, arranged the details of the election to improve their odds of victory. Most notably, rather than put the amendment on the general election ballot in November, they pushed to hold the special election vote at the same time as the August primary election, when turnout tends to be dramatically lower. This timing also disadvantages the state’s unusually large population of unaffiliated voters, who account for nearly 30 percent of the electorate. These voters are typically excluded from most races on the primary ballot and may not realize that they are even allowed to vote on the amendment.
But wait, there’s more! The language of most legislation tends to be ponderous and opaque. But the Value Them Both amendment is confusing to the point of being misleading. It references government funding of abortions and specifies that legislators “may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.” So does that mean laws that would protect abortion access under such “circumstances” or ones that would ban it even in those cases? That would be up to the legislators. But reading through the text, one could come away thinking that the amendment aims to shore up certain abortion rights or simply maintain the status quo. (Spoiler alert: It does not.)
The anti-abortion side claims that the goal of the amendment is to put the abortion issue back into the hands of the people of Kansas. (The effect would be a bit like a state-level version of what the U.S. Supreme Court said it was doing by killing Roe.) But this entire campaign seems designed to obfuscate and complicate the issue — and to minimize the number of non-Republicans who vote. (The Value Them Both coalition declined requests to discuss these issues.) The whole process smacks not so much of returning power to the people as of showing contempt for them and for the democratic process, a trend that is becoming standard operating procedure throughout much of the G.O.P.
Simply educating voters on the basic when, who, how and why of the looming vote is one of the big challenges confronting reproductive-rights supporters. Much of it comes down to volunteers clocking long hours on phone banks or, better still, trudging door to door in the brutal Kansas heat. Ms. Haas, Ms. Bruno-Valdez and their fellow travelers are working overtime.
They need to. Theirs is an uphill battle against a well-organized, well-funded anti-abortion movement with the infrastructure and resources to take the fight wherever the need arises. The Catholic churches have thrown their weight — and money — behind the amendment. The Archdiocese of Kansas City has already donated $500,000 and the Wichita Diocese $250,000. (Church advocacy is permissible for a nonpartisan ballot measure.) Last month, the national organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America kicked in $1.3 million. The group has boasted that its student volunteers, from across the nation, already have knocked on 150,000 doors.
Out-of-state support is coming in for both sides. But in red and purple states, as we’re seeing in Kansas, the reproductive rights side has to take extra care to avoid the perception that it has been hijacked by elitist, lefty outsiders. A hot talking point among the amendment’s supporters is that “the radical left” and “coastal elites” are trying to ram their values down the throats of sensible, moderate Kansans. They also warn that, as surrounding states (Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas) slash abortion access, Kansas will increasingly become an abortion “destination.” This may sound like a good thing to reproductive rights fans in blue states, but it is a message abortion foes are betting will upset many Kansas moderates. The folks at Kansans for Constitutional Freedom keep the messaging focused on the rights of Kansans and emphasize all the new local volunteers who have come forward in recent weeks.
As Election Day approaches, this is an increasingly intense, complicated fight. Reproductive rights supporters in other states would do well to keep close tabs on the action. One day soon, a similarly intense, complicated fight may be headed their way.
Surgical procedures and medication for miscarriages are identical to those for abortion, and some patients report delayed or denied miscarriage care because doctors and pharmacists fear running afoul of abortion bans.
By Pam Belluck, Published July 17, 2022, Updated July 18, 2022https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/17/health/abortion-miscarriage-treatment.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Health
Last year, a 35-year-old woman named Amanda, who lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, had a miscarriage in the first trimester of her pregnancy. At a large hospital, a doctor performed a surgical procedure often used as a safe and quick method to remove tissue from a failed pregnancy.
She awoke from anesthesia to find a card signed by the nurses and a little pink and blue bracelet with a butterfly charm, a gift from the hospital to express compassion for her loss. “It was so sweet because it’s such a hard thing to go through,” Amanda said.
Eight months later, in January, Amanda, who asked to be identified by her first name to protect her privacy, experienced another first-trimester miscarriage. She said she went to the same hospital, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, doubled over in pain and screaming as she passed a large blood clot.
But when she requested the same surgical evacuation procedure, called dilation and curettage, or D&C, she said the hospital told her no.
A D&C is the same procedure used for some abortions. In September 2021, in between Amanda’s two miscarriages, Texas implemented a law banning almost all abortions after six weeks into pregnancy.
Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, numerous states are enacting bans or sharp restrictions on abortion. While the laws are technically intended to apply only to abortions, some patients have reported hurdles receiving standard surgical procedures or medication for the loss of desired pregnancies.
Amanda said the hospital didn’t mention the abortion law, but sent her home with instructions to return only if she was bleeding so excessively that her blood filled a diaper more than once an hour. Hospital records that Amanda shared with The New York Times noted that her embryo had no cardiac activity during that visit and on an ultrasound a week earlier. “She reports having a lot of pain” and “she appears distressed,” the records said.
“This appears to be miscarriage in process,” the records noted, but suggested waiting to confirm and advised a follow-up in seven days.
Once home, Amanda said, she sat on the toilet digging “fingernail marks in my wall” from the pain. She then moved to the bathtub, where her husband held her hand as they both cried. “The bathtub water is just dark red,” Amanda recalled. “For 48 hours, it was like a constant heavy bleed and big clots.”
She added, “It was so different from my first experience where they were so nice and so comforting, to now just feeling alone and terrified.”
The hospital declined to discuss whether Texas’s abortion laws have had any impact on its medical care. In a statement, the hospital said, “While we are not able to speak about an individual’s case due to privacy laws, our multidisciplinary team of clinicians works together to determine the appropriate treatment plan on an individual case-by-case basis. The health and safety of our patients is our top priority.”
John Seago, the president of Texas Right to Life, said he considers any obstacles miscarriage patients encounter to be “very serious situations.” He blamed such problems on “a breakdown in communication of the law, not the law itself,” adding “I have seen reports of doctors being confused, but that is a failure of our medical associations” to provide clear guidance.
The uncertain climate has led some doctors and hospitals to worry about being accused of facilitating an abortion, a fear that has also caused some pharmacists to deny or delay filling prescriptions for medication to complete miscarriages, providers and patients say. Last week, the Biden administration warned that if a pharmacy refuses to fill prescriptions for pills “including medications needed to manage a miscarriage or complications from pregnancy loss, because these medications can also be used to terminate a pregnancy — the pharmacy may be discriminating on the basis of sex.”
Delays in expelling tissue from a pregnancy that is no longer viable can lead to hemorrhaging, infections, and sometimes life-threatening sepsis, obstetricians say.
“In this post-Roe world, women with miscarriages may die,” said Dr. Monica Saxena, an emergency medicine physician at Stanford Hospital.
Medical experts define miscarriage as a pregnancy that ends naturally before 20 weeks’ gestation. Most miscarriages occur in the first 13 weeks; pregnancy losses after 20 weeks are considered stillbirths. Miscarriage befalls about one in 10 known pregnancies, and may occur in as many as one in four when including miscarriages that occur before patients realize they are pregnant.
Medical terminology often calls miscarriage “spontaneous abortion,” a designation that can increase patients’ or providers’ concerns about being targeted under abortion bans. In medical records, Amanda’s second miscarriage was also labeled “threatened abortion: established and worsening.”
In typical early miscarriages, when cardiac activity has stopped, patients should be offered three options to expel tissue, said Dr. Sarah Prager, an obstetrics and gynecology professor at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.
D&C is recommended when patients are bleeding heavily, are anemic, have blood-clotting issues or certain conditions that make them medically fragile, Dr. Prager said. Some other patients also choose D&C’s, considering them emotionally easier than a lingering process at home.
Another option is medication — usually mifepristone, which weakens the membrane lining the uterus and softens the cervix, followed by misoprostol, which causes contractions. These same pills are used for medication abortion.
The third option is “expectant management”: waiting for tissue to pass on its own, which can take weeks. It is unsuccessful for 20 percent of patients, who then need surgery or medication, said Dr. Prager, who co-authored miscarriage management guidelines for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
When possible, patients should be allowed to choose the method because lack of choice compounds the trauma of losing a wanted pregnancy, doctors and patients said.
In Wisconsin, where a 173-year-old abortion ban may soon become enforceable again, Dr. Carley Zeal, an obstetrician-gynecologist, treated a woman who said that just after abortion rights were nullified, she showed up bleeding at a hospital, which determined she had miscarried but told her “they couldn’t do a D&C because of the laws.” The hospital didn’t offer her miscarriage medication either, advising her to find an obstetrician-gynecologist to help. By the time she found Dr. Zeal, who gave her mifepristone and misoprostol, the woman had been bleeding intermittently for days, putting her at “increased risk of hemorrhage or infection.”
“Even in these straightforward cases of basic OB/GYN practice, the laws leave providers questioning and afraid,” Dr. Zeal said. “These laws are already hurting my patients.”
Doctors say even greater risks may occur with cases of “inevitable miscarriage,” where there is still fetal cardiac activity, but the patient’s water has broken much too early for the pregnancy to be viable, said Greer Donley, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School.
A study from two Dallas hospitals reported on 28 patients whose water broke or who had other serious complications before 22 weeks’ gestation, and who, because of Texas laws, didn’t receive medical intervention until there was an “immediate threat” to their lives or fetal cardiac activity stopped. On average, the patients waited nine days, and 57 percent ended up with serious infections, bleeding or other medical problems, the report said. Another article, in the New England Journal of Medicine, said similar patients returned with signs of sepsis after doctors or hospitals decided Texas’s abortion law prevented them from intervening earlier.
In such cases, Dr. Seago of Texas Right to Life said abortion bans might require delaying intervention. What he characterized as a doctor saying “‘I want to cause the death of the child today because I believe that they’re going to pass away eventually,’” is prohibited, he said. He acknowledged that such delays could cause medical complications for women but said “severe” complications could legally be treated immediately.
One of the miscarriage medications, mifepristone, must be prescribed by certified providers and cannot be dispensed by typical pharmacies. Although the certification process is simple, Dr. Lauren Thaxton, an assistant professor in the department of women’s health at the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School, said some hospitals have expressed “concern about this medication also being used for abortion and whether or not that could create some sort of bad look.”
So, in some states, doctors only prescribe misoprostol for miscarriages, which can work on its own, but less well. It is also used for other medical conditions and should be easily obtainable at pharmacies, but some have declined to fill miscarriage patients’ misoprostol prescriptions or required additional documentation from doctors, Dr. Thaxton and others said.
Cassie, a Houston woman who asked to be identified by her first name, said she learned she had miscarried the day Roe v. Wade was overturned, when her doctor detected blood in her uterus and no cardiac activity.
She was prescribed misoprostol, but said a Walgreens made her wait a day for “extra approval” from its corporate office.
“When I went to pick it up, I then had to chat with the pharmacist and had to state again, even though they were aware my doctor prescribed it, that it wasn’t for an abortion,” Cassie said.
A Walgreens spokesman said some abortion laws “require additional steps for dispensing certain prescriptions and apply to all pharmacies, including Walgreens. In these states, our pharmacists work closely with prescribers as needed, to fill lawful, clinically appropriate prescriptions.”
Dr. Thaxton said that when pharmacies delay dispensing misoprostol, some patients are financially or logistically unable to return for the medication another day. Instead, some visit doctors days later, still retaining pregnancy tissue or “having significant bleeding that needs to be managed urgently,” she said.
In March in Missouri, which now has a post-Roe abortion ban, Gabriela, who asked to be identified by her first name, said she had a blighted ovum, in which a fertilized egg implants in the uterus but doesn’t develop. “My body wouldn’t release it,” she said.
Her doctor prescribed misoprostol, but it didn’t work well enough. When she asked for mifepristone, the doctor said it was difficult to obtain there, according to a doctor’s note Gabriela shared with The Times.
The doctor ordered a second round of misoprostol, but Gabriela said, “The pharmacist at Walgreens told me she couldn’t give it to me if I was pregnant. I was able to stutter out that I was having a miscarriage, and she gave it to me. I couldn’t help but cry in front of all the people at Walgreens because I felt like I was being treated like a bad person for picking up a medication to prevent an infection.”
Dr. Prager said she’s been told that some Texas miscarriage patients had been turned away by doctors who worried the patients might have actually taken abortion pills that hadn’t expelled the pregnancy, two situations that appear medically identical.
“There’s a system being created where there is no trust between physicians and patients, and patients are potentially going to choose not to go to a hospital even with something like a miscarriage, because they’re fearful,” Dr. Prager said.
Some women who have miscarried and are at risk of future losses say they are considering moving from states that ban abortion or are rethinking life plans.
“We are not going to try and conceive anymore,” Amanda said. “We don’t feel like it’s safe in Texas to continue to try after what we went through.”
By Sara Herschander, July 17, 2022
Oakland Unified School District educators, students, and families participate in a rally against the possible closure of 16 schools in Oakland, California, on February 4, 2022.
On the last day of school at Parker Elementary, following tearful moving up ceremonies for fifth and eighth grades, one group of mothers — frustrated over a decision to permanently shutter the school — refused to leave.
Over 50 days later, they’re still there, occupying the school alongside a network of community activists and other supporters. In the meantime, they’ve started “Parker Community School,” which offers free summer programming for schoolchildren and adults. Even as the next school year approaches, they’re refusing to back down, with plans to expand their efforts as part of a broader fight against educational racism and inequity in Oakland and across the country.
“Our kids are important to us — and that’s the reason why this has to happen,” said Misty Cross, a mother of two in the district who has been one of several parents sleeping at the school. “When we keep seeing closures every year, those are entire communities that are at stake.”
In February, the Oakland Unified School District approved plans to close, merge or shrink 11 schools in predominantly Black and Brown neighborhoods in the district, including Parker, which has served children in grades K-8 for 96 years. While officials say the closures are necessary to address budget shortfalls, families, teachers and students in the district’s close-knit schools have expressed widespread and impassioned opposition.
The Oakland Education Association teachers union held a one-day strike and filed an unfair labor charge over the plan. In April, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the state’s attorney general on behalf of the Justice for Oakland Students coalition, urging an investigation into the closures’ disproportionate impact on Black students. In February, Maurice André San-Chez, an educator in the district, was hospitalized after hunger striking for 20 days to protest the closures alongside school administrator Moses Omolade.
Black students make up 22 percent of the district’s total enrollees, but accounted for roughly 43 percent of students at the schools slated for closure under the school board’s initial plan. The closures have been driven in part because Oakland students attend charter schools at more than double the rate of other children across the state, leading to declining enrollment in the district.
“This matters not just for these children, but for all children,” Cross said. “And, all Black and Brown communities who have been going through closures.”
Cross is also a co-founder of the Oakland activist group Moms 4 Housing, a collective of unhoused working mothers who successfully occupied and ultimately reclaimed an empty home owned by speculators in 2020. She’s been applying the strategies she learned through Moms 4 Housing to build support for the sit-in at Parker.
On Tuesday, Cross and her seven-year-old daughter went on a field trip to the East Oakland Collective as part of the occupation’s on-site programming, where they viewed an exhibit on the Black Panthers, who once operated a network of liberation schools and community care programs across the country.
The Parker Community School also features poetry nights, Narcan trainings, current event discussions, and other programming facilitated by parents, teachers and community members that Cross says shows “what a community school really looks like.”
“When we keep the community in the school, it keeps those families together,” said Cross, who fears what plans the district might have for selling the school building. “It is so important that this building stays in the community. And, that the land is not given to privatizers or changed into a charter school, or sold off to a billionaire to create market rate housing.”
For now, Cross says the parents and activists occupying Parker have big plans in anticipation of next school year, including bringing on other parents affected by closures. The district plans to close five more elementary schools at the end of the 2022-23 school year.
“The neglect has gone way too far,” Cross said, emphasizing that working parents were leading the struggle out of necessity in light of the district’s failures. “We fight for our kids until they fight for themselves.”