Global reproductive health experts: The U.S. has joined a truly dreadful list of repressive nations

Dr. Anu Kumar. President and CEO of Ipas

In case you missed it, Dr. Anu Kumar, the President and CEO of the Chapel Hill-based global reproductive heath organization Ipas — a nonprofit  that has worked long and courageously to bring reproductive health care to people across the globe living under repressive regimes, issued a powerful statement last Friday that forecasts the future in a post-Roe v. Wade United States.

It’s a “must read and share” for all who care about human rights.

Overturning Roe v. Wade: A rights-denying move that will devastate access to abortion

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade officially denies millions of U.S. residents fundamental rights—to health care, to bodily autonomy, and to freedom. In the coming weeks, 26 U.S. states will severely restrict or outright criminalize abortion.

As a global reproductive justice organization dedicated to expanding access to abortion and contraception for all who need it, Ipas strongly condemns this decision.

We know from our work around the world that criminalizing abortion does not stop abortions. But they do become harder to get, especially for Black, indigenous, and people of color, as well as those struggling to make ends meet. Women face greater economic struggles, and their children have fewer resources. Women, pregnant people and providers will go to jail. Many people will be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. Everyone will have less freedom.

In Brazil, we’ve seen police raids of abortion clinics, and in Nicaragua we’ve seen doctors stop providing lifesaving treatment because they’re scared of arrest. In places like El Salvador, and in the past in Nepal and Rwanda, women have been put in jail when abortion is criminalized.

The protections Roe v. Wade offered did not guarantee access for all; but this inhumane decision now forces people to endure even greater hardships for what is essential health care. Marginalized communities, particularly people of color, who already face discrimination and undue surveillance of their bodies, will be criminalized for their pregnancy outcomes.

With this decision, the U.S. joins a handful of autocratic, anti-democratic countries bent on denying human rights and restricting access to abortion when the rest of the world is progressing toward reproductive justice for all. Middle-to-low-income countries like Benin and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have recently liberalized their abortion laws. And in Central and Latin America, the Green Wave feminist movement has swelled, with countries like Argentina and Colombia liberalizing their laws.

Ipas will continue to advocate for access to safe, legal abortion everywhere because we believe everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, should be able to determine their own future.

Roe overturned, Medicaid expansion talks revived, sports wagering folds (for now): The week’s top stories on Policy Watch

Click here to listen to the latest interviews and audio commentaries with NC Policy Watch director Rob Schofield.

11. Weekly Editorial Cartoon:

Read more about the series that inspired this cartoon

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Prince Louis needs to meet Meemaw

After watching the antics of bonny Prince Louis of Cambridge last week at Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration and Wet Waistcoat Contest, I found myself thinking somebody needs to ship the wee master across the pond so a Southern Mee-maw could, er, correct a few bad behaviors.

Louis, age 4, is a walking, talking meme. He slams his little palm over mom, Kate Middleton’s, mouth to make her stop talking. He rolls his eyes when bored with the exaggeration of a Catskills comic in the ‘50s. Take my monarchy, please.

At the Jubilee, he literally thumbed his nose at his parents during the pageantry. Blimey! The only time Prince Louis seemed composed  was while sitting with his grandfather, Prince Charles Who Will Never, Ever Be King and Nobody Even Cares Anymore Least of All His Own Mother. Perhaps Charles’ sadness, as omnipresent as Camilla’s unfortunate off-white stockings, moves even the tiny tyrant to a rare and respectful silence.

The British press is besotted with Prince Louis, calling him “delightfully precocious” and a “charmer whose crowd-pleasing antics never disappoint.”

Oh, sure they do.

You can’t blame Prince Louis, though. He leads a pretty cushy life from what I can tell. He probably has a child from the village fetched every day to taste his pudding to make sure it’s not too hot.

You can imagine him sitting with his quieter siblings wondering aloud, “I wonder what the poor people are doing tonight.”

All of which means a Southern Mee-maw intervention is needed here. And soon.

Of course, no one spanks anymore so we will need Mee-maw 2.0 for the task. There can be no invitation to “go get a switch” in this modern age. When we know better, we do better. I believe Howard Stern said that.

Once he arrives in mythical Catgut, N.C., Prince Louis will be taught to “straighten up and fly right” not by a proper English governess in starched pinafore and thick-soled shoes but by a genuine Southern great grandma, wearing aqua crocs and a sweatshirt decorated with “U.S. Songbirds.” This is the uniform of a warrior going into battle and it is, statistically speaking, undefeated.

Prince Louis will frown at the bowlful of grits presented him for his first stateside breakfast. His trademark scowl, which is “delightfully iconic” according to royal-watchers and “incredibly annoying” to everyone else, will be greeted with Southern Mee-maw wisdom.

“You keep scrunching up yer face and it’ll freeze like that.”

Done.

If he raises his tiny fists to her, she will laugh loudly and remind him “You can get glad in the same clothes you got sad in.”

He is 4, so this may take a moment for all that wisdom to sink in, but he will ultimately understand she’s telling him “Let go of what’s making you mad.”

As he stomps and sasses, she will instruct him “don’t act ugly.” Which is Southern for “stop being a jerk.” She will be moved to tell him she’s ill with him and he will come to decipher that this “ill” has nothing to do with a physical ailment.

By the time he is returned to his loving family, and Megan Markle, Prince Louis will be whipped (not really!) into shape and become the model of decorum. And if he backslides? Help is just an overnight flight away. And it’s got a new pair of crocs.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write to her at [email protected].

Let’s hope sports betting bill stays dead

(Photo illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The state of North Carolina needs a lot of things — access to healthcare for hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the coverage gap, new laws to prevent the proliferation of military-grade killing machines, adequate funding so that its public schools comply with the state constitution —  but legalized sports gambling is not on the list.

That’s why last night’s preliminary defeat of such a proposal in the state House was more than welcome. As Wake County State Rep. Abe Jones put it succinctly and accurately in regard to such a proposal in the House floor debate as reported by WRAL.com:

“This is bad. Pure, simple, straight-up wrong. You can’t fix what’s wrong because you can’t amend it away.”

A powerful fact sheet prepared a few years back by the national advocacy group Stop Predatory Gambling lists numerous reasons why commercialized sports betting is a huge and deeply problematic scam. But topping the list are these:

  • It fundamentally changes the way people watch and consume sports (and not for the better).
  • It will relieve Americans of billions upon billions of dollars of wealth on an almost always illusory notion that they can win big.
  • It is designed to target kids and turn them into lifetime gamblers.

As the fact sheet notes:

Public officials and opinion leaders of all political stripes who profess a desire to improve opportunity and alleviate poverty often lament how few levers they have to pull.

Saving is the road to wealth creation yet around 50% of the U.S. population has zero or negative net wealth. More than 60% of citizens don’t have enough savings to cover a $1000 emergency expense. This is a critical issue because asset-building is the direct opposite of commercialized gambling.

Americans were expected to lose $118 billion of their personal wealth to government-sanctioned gambling in 2018. Over the next eight years, the American people are on a collision course to lose more than $1 trillion of their personal wealth to government-sanctioned gambling. If approved, commercialized sports betting will make these financial losses even worse.

To improve opportunity and increase mobility out of poverty, state officials must stop turning millions of people who are small earners, who could be small savers, into habitual bettors.

Last night’s vote was razor-thin, and perhaps not the last word on the issue. If state leaders, however, retain any interest in protecting the people of the state from predatory corporations that differ little from loan sharks and payday lending scammers, they’ll see that the legislation stays dead.

Modest national progress on gun safety likely to have little impact in NC

Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr

For decades, American politicians have had a disturbing tendency to make big promises about tackling gun violence in the aftermath of horrific mass shootings and then, as the weeks go by, the headlines wane, and gun lobby bullying increases, lose interest.

You know the mantra: “We’ll keep studying the matter,” they say.

And tragically, the pattern appears to be repeating itself yet again. North Carolina Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, for instance, have won plaudits of late for their work with Democrats on some modest federal gun safety reforms, but as veteran journalist Darrell Ehrlick of the Daily Montanan argues persuasively in an essay published today by Policy Watch, the legislation is pathetically unambitious.

As he explains:

[The legislation] neither obligates the gun industry or the gun lobby to do anything meaningful. And it certain does nothing to curb the explosive expansion and development of different sophisticated weapons of war, nor will it impact what you can buy or gun sales, which have soared in the past decade.

Instead, the new laws will just place more work on the federal government, which will be set up for blame when something doesn’t work perfectly. The NRA and the gun manufacturers should be thrilled: They’re getting legislation that is disguised as action, but I can’t see any reason to believe it will make much difference in situations like Uvalde, Sandy Hook or Buffalo.

Rep. Marcia Morey

Ehrlick allows that the legislation would provide incentives for states to enact “red flag” laws — laws that allow courts to issue directives akin to domestic violence orders that would require individuals found to be dangerous to temporarily surrender their firearms — but as he also notes, there would be no uniformity to the laws or any requirement that they be enacted.

Indeed, here in Tillis and Burr’s home state, their fellow Republicans in the state House have already made it crystal clear they have no intention of allowing consideration of a red flag proposal anytime soon. In an interview with Policy Watch earlier this week, the longtime champion of such a law for North Carolina — Durham County State Representative and former state judge Marcia Morey — reported that she’s already received the message from House Speaker Tim Moore that her bill (which has never even received a hearing over a period of years) will be buried again in 2022.

The bottom line: While any advances — even tiny ones on the margins — are welcome, the supposed progress on tackling gun violence we keep hearing about is beginning to feel like a shell game. North Carolina voters, who overwhelmingly support stronger gun safety laws, must not allow the politicians behind the scam to get away with it.