The Supreme Court ruled Monday morning that the government cannot compel closely held corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage for its employees.
Two family-owned companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, had argued that the insurance requirement in President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health care law violated a 1993 religious-freedom law.
The health care law already excludes churches and other religious entities from the contraception mandate.
The Hobby Lobby arts-and-crafts retailer is operated by evangelical Christians, and cabinet manufacturer Conestoga Wood Specialties is owned by Mennonites.
The Obama administration argued that for-profit companies – even closely held ones – do not exercise religious rights as individuals and therefore are not covered by the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
But the court, in a 5-4 vote and majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, upheld an appeals court ruling on the case, finding that the government had failed to show that its mandate is the “least restrictive means of advancing its interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to birth control.”
An Iranian lesbian has said the country’s authorities tried to force her into having gender reassignment surgery to “fix” her sexuality.
The woman, known as Sara, said she was ordered to undergo the “treatment” by a psychologist, after coming out to her family, aged 20.
Sara told Reuters: “At first it was difficult. They tried to convince me that I was wrong and made an appointment with a psychologist.”
“She said I was really a man in a woman’s body and I had to change my body to suit my personality.
“My sister had brought a photo along, (taken when) I was maybe 5 years old. I was wearing boy’s clothes and had a toy gun in my hand and the psychologist emphasised that this photo showed that I was a man.
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Massachusetts buffer zone law violates the First Amendment; the justices were unanimous in the ruling. In case you weren’t up to speed on the case, here are the basics: Fourteen years ago, the high court upheld a Colorado law that created an 8-foot “bubble zone” around patients entering or exiting clinics. But Massachusetts’ buffer zone law prohibited demonstrators from standing within 35 feet of the facility, a length the justices seemed dubious of from the start. Walking that length — the size of a school bus — takes approximately seven seconds.
A lot can happen in those seven seconds. A lot can happen when protesters are allowed to enter clinics, physically confront patients or block doors. Massachusetts passed its law in response to aggressive and dangerous conduct from protesters stationed directly outside clinics, including an incident in 1994 where a gunman opened fire at two abortion clinics, killing two people and injuring five others. In its defense of the measure, the state argued before the justices that the buffer law is not a prohibition on speech, but a practical measure to keep access to these facilities “open and clear of all but essential foot traffic, in light of more than two decades of compromised facility access and public safety.”
Between fiscal years 2005-2006 and 2012-2013, 144 bilateral tubal ligations, or tube-tying procedures, were carried out. According to the report, tubal ligations are generally done “for the sole purpose of sterilization,” so prisons must follow strict guidelines to perform them.
Auditors found that 39 of 144 did not give full consent. In 27 of the 39 procedures, the physician did not sign a consent form guaranteeing that the “inmate appeared mentally competent and understood the lasting effects of the procedure.” And in 18 of the 39 cases, physicians violated the required waiting period between the inmate’s consent and the actual procedure. Inmates who did give consent did not have a witness of choice, as required by prison medical regulations. Physicians did not document their conversations with inmates about the sterilization process with any of the 144 inmates. And none of the procedures were authorized by an oversight committee of state medical professionals.
“This audit demonstrates there is a systemic problem, and implicates the entire culture. The right to have a family is a fundamental right that each of us has. Many of these women are first-time offenders and already have families,” claimed Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, a member of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, in response to the audit.
1. Get married.
2. Take a self defense class.
3. Drink less alcohol.
4. Wear more clothing.
5. Stop taking public transportation.
6. Make it seem like less fun to be a rape victim.
7. Buy special underwear.
8. Download a GPS tracking app.
9. Carry a gun.
How bad is street harassment in America? Pretty bad, according to a report published this week by Stop Street Harassment, a Virginia-based nonprofit.
SSH commissioned market research firm GfK to run a nationwide survey of 2,040 American adults—the largest such survey ever—to learn about their experiences with street harassment. The resulting report defines street harassment as “unwanted interactions in public spaces between strangers that are motivated by a person’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, or gender expression.” The relative ubiquity of street harassment makes it difficult to quantify, author Holly Kearl explains in the report, because many people “may not even identify what happened as wrong.”
Nevertheless, the report reveals some striking data points: Of those surveyed, 65 percent of women and 25 percent of men reported experiencing street harassment at some point. Men were overwhelmingly the harassers of both women and men, and people of color and LGBT people were a lot more likely to say they’d been harassed than white or straight people were.
As temperatures heat up, teenage girls across Canada are being kicked out of school for their summer attire. Between 20 and 30 girls in the Newfoundland and Labrador province were sent home at the end of last week for wearing sleeveless shirts that exposed their bra straps — leading some of them to complain that administrators are unfairly targeting girls who just want to dress comfortably.