Washington (CNN) — The abortion issue is far from settled. It’s just as contentious today as it has ever been in the United States.
Wednesday’s 41st anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, which upheld legalized abortion before about 24 weeks, ignited the polarized, emotional battle.
In sum, the Pope tweeted, thousands gathered, politicians pontificated.
Anti-abortion activists have a bigger megaphone as it has come to remember the day they say the unborn lost their rights.
Thousands of anti-abortion activists convened on the National Mall in the annual “March for Life” rally that drew buses of activists. This year they braved the snow that fell Tuesday and below freezing temperatures that followed.
Pope Francis showed his solidarity, tweeting “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”
Politicians sent releases, including Sen. Ted Cruz. “Every human life is a precious gift from God, and our law should protect innocent human life,” the Texas Republican said.
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In the abortion debate, each side tries to out maneuver the other. But the game is becoming more intense, complicated and consuming.
Both sides are working at the local, state and federal level to pass laws. Obviously the anti-choice advocates want laws that restrict access to abortion while pro-choice proponents are working for measures that increase access to abortion care and options.
Both sides are focusing on the court system, too, working to place judges that have a tremendous amount of clout in shutting down or allowing abortion-related laws.
The answer is not so cut and dry, but last year was a big year for anti-choice advocates. Even the president of one of the largest women’s rights groups admitted that the anti-choice side made some inroads.
“Things are in a crisis,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said. “The number of bills that have moved in the state legislature are definitely concerning.”
According to the group, 24 states adopted 53 anti-choice measures in 2013, including one in North Dakota that outlaws abortion as early as six weeks of gestation. Effectively outlawing abortion as many women don’t know they are pregnant at six weeks.
On the flip side, 10 states have adopted only 16 pro-choice measures, mostly involving access to care and contraception.
What’s Congress doing about it?
Not much. But efforts are in motion.
After Republicans gained the majority in the House in 2010, they have been working to roll back access to abortion. Republican lawmakers launched a comprehensive attack on Planned Parenthood, women’s health clinics that provide abortion services, working to cut their federal funding.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, caused major debates over abortion as opponents said it allows federal funding to be used for abortion services or providers who offer them. Supporters disagree as Democrats agreed to tighten language.
The House passed the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” that restricts abortions at 20 weeks, citing evidence that fetus feel pain at that time. But the measure is stalled in the Senate and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it should it reach his desk.
Does politics have anything to do with it?
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While it won’t make a campaign, it can surely break it.
The Republican National Committee, which is holding its annual conference this week, put its events on hold and encouraged members to attend the “March for Life” rally.
Abortion is a key topic of this year’s meeting as a coalition of RNC members are introducing a resolution that encourages Republican candidates to “support Republican pro-life candidates who fight back against Democratic deceptive ‘war on women’ rhetoric by pointing out the extreme positions on abortion held by Democratic opponents.”
It spurred Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ campaign. The issue launched her to political notoriety after she mounted a filibuster in the Texas legislature opposing restrictive abortion measures. But since she launched her candidacy, she’s had to talk about a lot more than the abortion.
Democrats are willing to highlight the issue when it frames Republican positions on abortion as extreme.
“Last year, the GOP said they needed to reach out to women, but instead they’ve decided their plan is to spend more time fighting to restrict the rights of women to make their own health care choices,” Democratic National Committee chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.
Rarely do candidates run on the issue and win.
But the issue can doom candidates who make controversial remarks. In 2012, Missouri Senate hopeful Todd Akin’s campaign took a nose dive after the Republican, who opposes abortion in all circumstances, made incendiary remarks.
Democrats have worked to optimize Republican stances on abortion. They say the Republicans have launched a “war on women” and pounded the issue in campaign ads and stump speeches.
Do people care?
Yes and no.
While it’s a topic that evokes strong opinions, it’s unlikely that people will pick a candidate solely on the issue.
According to a May CNN poll, 25% of people thought abortion should be legal in all circumstances compared to 20% thought it should be legal in no situation.
A Gallup Poll released last week found that respondents thought abortion was one of the least important issues that the government address. It came in 17 out of 19 topics.
The Supreme Court is hearing three cases involving the issue, including McCullen v. Coakley, which challenges the buffer zone law in Massachusetts that creates a safe space around reproductive health care facilities.
And there’s also the Hobby Lobby case, which will be heard this spring. The chain store has asked the court to exempt it from providing contraception and “abortion-inducing drug” health coverage to their workers, which is required under the Affordable Care Act.
And lawmakers will continue the battle around the country.
Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among entrepreneurs in the United States, calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” and PBS included Ray as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries.
As one of the leading inventors of our time, Ray has worked in such areas as music synthesis, speech and character recognition, reading technology, virtual reality and cybernetic art. All of these pioneering technologies continue today as market leaders. Ray was the principal developer of the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Ray’s web site Kurzweil AI.net has over one million readers.
Among Ray’s many honors, he is the recipient of the $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize, the world’s largest for innovation. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame , established by the US Patent Office .
He has received twelve honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents.
Ray’s books include The Age of Intelligent Machines, The Age of Spiritual Machines, and Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. Three of Ray’s books have been national best sellers and The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best selling book on Amazon in science. Ray Kurzweil’s new book, published by Viking Press, is entitled The Singularity is Near, When Humans Transcend Biology.
Click here to read Ray Kurzweil’s full biography.
I guess if your looking to completely discredit Creation then this is your guy! Ray Kurzweil has no notion that a soul lives in a corporeal body and believes that we will all be able to download our consciousness into synthetic bodies once our natural form wears out. If this actually happens and the transference produces an exact duplicate complete with consciousness, then ALL christian bets are off the table! One of the biggest reasons that so many people are against human cloning is because the moment a clone wakes up and shows distinct personality then the notions put forth in the bible go completely down in flames!
Folks, it’s just a matter of time now and all religious notions of a god embuing man with a soul will be swept into the dust bin of history! The religious, of course, will rush to find an explanation that covers this thus changing what their bible says for the millionth time since it was written. All religions requiring the notion of a soul will lose countless followers, but a few million lemmings with pliable minds will remain. In the face of scientific discovery there are always people lined up in a trailer park somewhere yelling, ‘Fuck yer Gawddammed science, it don’t ixplane everthin.’ Then it’s off to church in the beat up minivan!
The only thing that I wish is that as Mr. Kurzweil comes closer to his Singularity, he will hire bodyguards to protect him from the religious idiots that will undoubtedly try to kill him. These insecure idiots KNOW that the download will be successful and that is what they fear most!
Am I the only one today who gets pissed off when the word ‘gentleman’ is used for anyone possessing a dick? When I was a kid, even in the 80s, the word gentleman was used to describe a genteel person who graced people with respect and manners. Now any heroin addict who stumbles into the ER and every criminal booked into jail gets this description! A gentleman is just that! He is respectful and kind, not abrasive and apeish! People need to get the net and learn that there will always be those types of people that deserve it when you walk across the street to avoid them!
When I think of religion I think of some kind of mass delusion that takes over the minds of random people and convinces them that the world is a candy apple given to them by God. Some followers eating of the bountiful imaginary harvest, loose teeth in the sweet caramel coating of the apple and are informed that it is ‘God’s’ will that they now are looked upon like Dukes of Hazzard stand-ins. Others bite down and are rewarded not by pain and blood, but with sweet sugary goodness! None of the above groups surmise that someone has gotten the shitty end of the stick, they just rationalize that nothing is up to them and that they are sooo lucky to be at the mercy of God’s cosmic will.
I, as a scientist, believe that some of us will not observe properly the fecal matter on said piece of lumber and after placing hands on it will gather the experience to avoid shitty hands in the future; thus the experience carries value as a learning tool. If said stick was handed to me on purpose, then I would, as good teachers do, shove the goddamned stick up the giver’s ass thus teaching him that that shit is definitely NOT funny! The pattern here, as demonstrated, keeps control of events in the individual’s hands and requires an element of personal responsibility.
The greatest flaw of the faithful, especially the educated ones, is that they follow blindly, which requires no individuality or use of experience or insight. They take the information given to them by followers and process this unbelievable crap into a salve to ease their pains of guilt and fear. When they find the unknown creeping up on them and they have no answers to explain it, they retreat into mythology and dance around the fire to ward off the evil spirits. All common sense is thrown to the wind and replaced with glassy-eyed subservience to an entity that will not and cannot ever answer any logical query.
Why do thinking people allow this ‘easy way out’ to take hold of their lives and responsibilities? Because it is easier than facing inevitability, that when it is all done, the individuality that we enjoy will cease to exist and life as we know it, won’t even exist as a memory. All scientists know the law of Conservation of Energy, energy can neither be created or destroyed, therefore we do not just blink out. There is an energy left over as is with ALL discharges of energy, i.e deaths. Will it be in any recognizable form? Will it have any sort of awareness? These are the great unknowns that if you pledge obedience to a deity, you can convince yourself that you can avoid them, that god will protect you because ‘He’ has a ‘Plan’ for you and all the rest of the lemmings, so have no fear!
The facts are that if religious people would do any kind of actual impartial research, they would find that the religion they are following today is unrecognizable from past to present. Any diligent person could extract mountains of evidence to the contrary of most organized religions. Many of the religions borrow from older religions and others, such as Islam, outright steal the majority of their content from established texts. Blind faith is just that, and when one blindly follows, one usually runs into a fucking wall! Religion teaches us to believe in the unbelievable and also lets us have some concrete information as well to convince us that it is actually OK to believe in science. This is the deception. Religious institutions teaching science after years of previously putting scientists to death! Now it’s OK to believe scientific data…as long as you never part with the belief in the myth! We still need crowd control people! We still need the faithful to believe in confiding in the church so that the church can use the knowledge to leverage control! Why confessional? Because as the Lords and ladies performed their Holy duties as was required, the clergy stood busy figuring how to use it against them! But for the right price they could have their confessions sealed away until the next time the church was in need. I would say, some pretty diabolical shit huh?. Sounds like Jimmy Swaggart, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Ted Haggard…things havn’t changed from then to now on the religious landscape. The problem is is that we have so much scientific evidence against mythology but seem to gain minimal ground!
I will be returning soon with more musings and ask that those of you out there who are struggling with doubt, please give in. Atheists who have identified yourselves, stay active and supportive to young atheists and remember that early indoctrination is child abuse. God threatens you with eternal damnation and suffering if you defy him and an abusive parent threatens to beat the shit out of you if you defy him. I see no difference.
(Reuters) – Atheists and other religious skeptics suffer persecution or discrimination in many parts of the world and in at least seven nations can be executed if their beliefs become known, according to a report issued on Monday.
The study, from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), showed that “unbelievers” in Islamic countries face the most severe – sometimes brutal – treatment at the hands of the state and adherents of the official religion.
But it also points to policies in some European countries and the United States which favor the religious and their organizations and treat atheists and humanists as outsiders.
The report, “Freedom of Thought 2012”, said “there are laws that deny atheists’ right to exist, curtail their freedom of belief and expression, revoke their right to citizenship, restrict their right to marry.”
Other laws “obstruct their access to public education, prohibit them from holding public office, prevent them from working for the state, criminalize their criticism of religion, and execute them for leaving the religion of their parents.”
The report was welcomed by Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, who said in a brief introduction there was little awareness that atheists were covered by global human rights agreements.
The IHEU – which links over 120 humanist, atheist and secular organizations in more than 40 countries – said it was issuing the report to mark the U.N.’s Human Rights Day on Monday.
According to its survey of some 60 countries, the seven where expression of atheist views or defection from the official religion can bring capital punishment are Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
The 70-page report lists no recent cases of actual execution for “atheism” — but researchers say the offence is often subsumed into other charges.
In a range of other countries – such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Kuwait and Jordan – publication of atheist or humanist views on religion are totally banned or strictly limited under laws prohibiting “blasphemy”.
In many of these countries, and others like Malaysia, citizens have to register as adherents of a small number officially-recognized religions — which normally include no more than Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam.
Atheists and humanists are thereby forced to lie to obtain their official documents without which it is impossible to go to university, receive medical treatment, travel abroad or drive.
In Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin and North America, countries which identify themselves secular give privileges to or favor Christian churches in providing education and other public services, the IHEU said.
In Greece and Russia, the Orthodox Church is fiercely protected from criticism and is given pride of place on state occasions, while in Britain bishops of the Church of England have automatic seats in the upper house of parliament.
While freedom of religion and speech is protected in the United States, the report said, a social and political climate prevails “in which atheists and the non-religious are made to feel like lesser Americans, or non-Americans.”
In at least seven U.S. states, constitutional provisions are in place that bar atheists from public office and one state, Arkansas, has a law that bars an atheist from testifying as a witness at a trial, the report said.
(Reported by Robert Evans)