Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

31 March 2011

Islam and Rape: Two Stories

By Diana Hsieh

First, Scott Connery of Rational Public Radio reports on a horrifying case in which Alicia Gali travels to the supposedly modern Muslim country of the United Arab Emirates, where she is drugged and raped, then imprisoned in brutal conditions for nearly a year... for the crime of adultery. Why? Because she reported the rape to the police.

Second, in Bangladesh, a 14 year old girl is raped by an older man who had been harassing her for some time, then sentenced to 100 lashes, also for adultery. She collapses and dies after receiving 70 lashes. The initial autopsy reported no injuries (!!) to her body, saying that her death was a suicide. Her parents -- father and mother -- are seeking justice for their innocent daughter, even at the risk of reprisals.

If you think that Judaism or Christianity are much better, that their holy texts would never sanction such atrocities, think again.

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28 March 2011

Tim Peck on Marriage Equality

By Diana Hsieh

Tim Peck recently published the following excellent letter to the editor in the Asheville Tribune in defense of equality in marriage:

Dear Editor,

Contrary to the editorial position of the conservative Asheville Tribune (http://is.gd/habmyh), imposing a Christian version of Sharia law on free Americans in a pluralistic society is thrice-times wrong.

Marital union is a voluntary, peaceable and rightful contract between free adults; often involving property, reputations, assets and even children. Just as in any promissory contract, it is the proper role of the government to adjudicate contestable disputes should they arise. Sadly, our gay citizens are prohibited by law from entering into these romantic contracts. This is a violation of individual rights and a proper government should stand against these prohibitions; as the Equality Resolution does.

In the state of North Carolina, heterosexual couples can legally marry. This qualifies them for certain privileges and legal recognition. Homosexual couples are immorally prevented by the government from getting married, according to the dictates of their best judgment. This is a violation of individual rights. To compensate for this objective injustice, the City, among other things, will create a registry of gay couples, who are forced to remain single, that meets certain criteria for a civil union in the event that institutions are inclined to recognize and respect their rights. Were gays able to exercise their natural born right to marriage, none of this would be necessary.

To cavalierly suggest, as the Tribune does, that gay men are free to marry lesbian women, or vice versa, is an appeal to illogic and oppression. It is like saying that you are free to practice religion so long it is the religion of Islam. Whoever agrees to the one, must agree to the other.

Tim Peck
Asheville
Thank you for speaking out so clearly and cogently, Tim!

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23 March 2011

Ari Armstrong: Individual Rights Versus Force

By Diana Hsieh

Ari Armstrong speaking on individual rights versus force at Liberty Toastmasters:



Too many advocates of abortion rights seek to violate our rights to property and contract. This speech explains why the violation of those rights is akin to slavery.

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21 March 2011

'Personhood' and the Fetal Protection Bill

By Ari

Anti-abortion activists killed a bill to protect fetuses from criminal and reckless harm, as I recently pointed out. Over at Big Media, Jason Salzman also quotes from the Colorado Christian Family Alliance, which opposed the bill.

Today, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post advances the story by paraphrasing State Representative Mark Waller, who blames the pro-choice side for including language denying the legal "personhood" of fetuses.

Bartels also quotes Colorado Right to Life as accusing Waller of failing to fight the "battle with the liberal, godless, left-wing abortion industry." (Obviously the line is intended as a smear on multiple counts; many people other than those who facilitate abortions favor legal abortion, as do many religious people and non-left-wing people.)

But Bartels is wrong to imply that the "single sentence" about personhood is what primarily doomed the bill. Both the Colorado Catholic Conference and the Colorado Christian Family Alliance mention the personhood line, but they also dislike the fact that the bill repealed other (mostly unenforceable) laws pertaining to abortion. A release yesterday from the Alliance does not even mention the "personhood" issue (see below).

Notably, the Alliance gives anti-abortion activists full credit for killing the bill, and the Alliance pledges to accept only clearly "pro-life," meaning anti-abortion, language.

The Alliance material quoted by Salzman also claims the bill "codifies taxpayer funding for abortion mills." But I looked at the bill and found no language along those lines.

Obviously the anti-abortion crowd is attempting to hijack the fetal protection bill, which is why the line about "personhood" was important. To review, in 2010 State Senator Dave Schultheis ran a bill explicitly granting legal "personhood" to fetuses, and in 2008 and 2010 anti-abortion groups ran a "personhood" initiative in Colorado (and have threatened to do so again in 2012).

So for Waller to accuse the pro-choice side of hanging up the bill over "personhood" language is completely disingenuous. The central problem is that the anti-abortion side will not allow a bill to proceed unless it is a backdoor attempt to outlaw abortion.

Another reason why language denying legal "personhood" to fetuses was needed in this year's bill (1256) is that its title and language explicitly refers to an "unborn child." As I've argued, this "vague, non-objective" language "obscures the important distinction between a fetus and a born child." Given that ambiguity, language clarifying that a fetus is not in fact legally a "person" is absolutely essential to the bill.

Now, for a bill with a neutral title, such as "A Bill to Protect Embryos and Fetuses from Criminal and Reckless Harm," specific language about "personhood" would not be necessary, so long as the bill's provisions unambiguously refrained from restricting abortions.

In general, a good bill would be much shorter and much simpler than 1256. However, a good bill must also prevent anti-abortion zealots from hijacking the law for backdoor abortion bans.

March 17 Release from the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado

Pro-Life Citizens Rally to kill sneak attack on Colorado's voter-passed Pro-life Laws
Even the bill's drafter, attorney Michael Dohr, admitted the bill "removes all criminal abortion statutes" thereby ratifying abortion-on-demand in Colorado

Denver, CO – Today, Christian Family Alliance of Colorado responded to deceptive State House GOP leadership back pedaling on a bill designed to subvert Colorado's voter-passed pro-life laws.

HB 1256, the so-called fetal homicide bill, inspired by a recent hit and run crime committed against an Aurora women and her unborn child, was pulled after pro-life citizens rallied to expose the deceitful bill.

The language of the bill, rather than address only fetal homicide, went far beyond to strike part 1 of article 6 of title 18 that would decriminalize all abortion related criminal activity.

"It saddens CFAC to know that even House GOP leadership seemed prepared to nullify all of Colorado’s voter-passed pro-life laws and therefore ratify abortion-on-demand in the Centennial State," said Neville.

"We'd expect that from a Planned Parenthood lobbyist like Senate sponsor Pat Steadman, but not from those who claim to value the lives of unborn children."

"Thankfully pro-life citizens rallied in time to end the travesty that was HB 1256. They are now looking forward to working with real pro-life legislation that will finally close Colorado's fetal homicide loop hole," concluded Neville.

Note: This post originally appeared on Ari Armstrong's blog.

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18 March 2011

Anti-Abortion Zealots Kill Fetal Protection Bill

By Ari

You'd think anti-abortion zealots might want to protect fetuses from criminal harm, right? Wrong.

"Right-fringe... abortion extremists" opposed Colorado House Bill 1256, as State Senator Pat Steadman told Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post, causing the bill's sponsors to withdraw the measure concerning fetal protection.

As I've reviewed, Colorado law is deficient in that it criminalizes only intentional termination of a pregnancy (against the woman's wishes). What if, through a criminal or reckless act, somebody unintentionally kills a woman's wanted fetus? That's what happened with the hit-and-run in Denver.

The new bill defined four levels of offense: intentionally killing a fetus after deliberation (against the woman's wishes), intentionally killing a fetus without prior deliberation, recklessly causing the death of a fetus while knowing the woman is pregnant, and recklessly causing the death of a fetus without knowing the woman is pregnant. These basic categories of offense make a lot of sense, which is why I favored the bill (despite some problems with it).

In a subsequent op-ed, I offered the basic theoretical foundation for such a law: "Legal protections for a woman's fetus properly extend from the legal rights of the woman herself."

Why, then, did anti-abortion activists, who claim to want to protect fetuses, oppose the bill? On March 14, the Colorado Catholic Conference sent an action alert via email opposing 1256. This Catholic group offered two main arguments. First, the "bill fails to recognize an unborn child as a separate victim of homicide or assault," as the bill explicitly states that a fetus is not a person under law. Second:

The Colorado Catholic Conference also opposes the fact that this bill seeks to repeal the criminal abortion statute that is still on the books in Colorado. The pro-life community looks forward to the day when Roe vs. Wade is overturned, and there is no benefit to the pro-life community to repeal our criminal abortion statute, even if currently it is not enforceable.


I take it this refers to statutes 18-6-101 through 18-6-105, which bill 1256 would have repealed. Statute 18-6-102 outlaws the ending of a "pregnancy of a woman by any means other than justified medical termination or birth." The key, then, is what constitutes "justified medical termination," which 18-6-101 defines. The measure severely restricts abortion to cases of likely death of the woman, "serious permanent impairment of the physical health of the woman" (including mental health), serious fetal deformity, cases where the woman is under sixteen, rape, and incest.

As I have argued, these statutes seriously violate the rights of pregnant women to get an abortion. But apparently the Colorado Catholic Conference would rather prevent actual laws that protect fetuses from criminal harm, in order to leave unenforceable statutes on the books that outlaw elective abortions.

This is just the latest illustration of how anti-abortion zealots undermine the rights and lives of actual people, in order to maintain the faith-based fantasy that a zygote is a person. So the next time a criminal gets away with killing a woman's fetus, feel free to blame the anti-abortion crusaders who killed bill 1256.

Note: This article originally appeared on Ari Armstrong's blog.

Update: See also the report at BigMedia.org.

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