#604 - Peace & Life: Executions/Racism Referendum/Abortion Regs
An Observation on the Jackson Hearings
The U.S. Senate hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson took place this week. There is much to say and much being said, but one thing that didn’t happen is of interest:
During his questioning, Senator Lindsey Graham fumed about the release of any prisoners from Guantanamo Bay detention. He declared it to be worthwhile to spend $500 million to keep them locked up. Yet with all the belligerency he could muster, he didn’t suggest – it didn’t even seem to occur to him – that they could be executed.
We’ve made substantial progress on the death penalty when it’s not even brought up for what he called “enemy combatants.” We still have a long way to go, but we should note positive developments.
More good news on executions: the U.S. Supreme Court just ruled March 24 that a death row inmate has religious rights; this doesn’t stop the execution, but is a little more humane.
Update on Referendums
Back in 2020, we favored an Alabama referendum for a commission to clean up their state constitution because it included removing racist concepts such as school segregation and bans on interracial marriage. These things are already unenforceable, of course, due to court decisions. This makes their removal symbolic, but it’s pretty important symbolism to get racism out of official documents.
Additionally, the changes would remove Alabama from the list of those states that have an exception to their ban on involuntary servitude (that is, slavery) for those convicted of a crime.
Now the commission has finished its work and is submitting the revised constitution for ratification by the voters.
You can see all the referendums we’re tracking at Peace and Life Referendums.
Our Latest Blog Post
With the U.S. Supreme Court considering Dobbs v. Jackson, a decision likely in June or thereabouts, many are worrying and others rejoicing that Roe v. Wade may be severely curtailed or overturned outright. If so, some states will jump on the opportunity, and other states will be all the more assertive about keeping abortion legal. In our quest to make abortion unthinkable, we’ll still have plenty of work to do.
But this leads to the question: what happens with restrictions and bans? We don’t have to muse philosophically about what might happen; there are studies about what did happen in various U.S. states and in other countries. Rachel MacNair touches on this in What Studies Show: The Impact of Abortion Regulations in an excerpt from the book, Peace Psychology Perspectives on Abortion.
A large portion of the abortions that don’t happen aren’t replaced by childbirth, but by couples taking more care about getting pregnant. Fitting this pattern, more recently it’s been detailed in places including the Washington Post and an Austin TV news report that there’s been an upsurge of vasectomies in Texas since the Heartbeat law went into effect.
Quotation of the Week
Tish Harrison Warren
The New York Times, March 20, 2022
I was in college, just old enough to vote, when I first bumped into the left-right binary of American politics. I was volunteering with undocumented immigrants and was particularly passionate about the alleviation of poverty, so I was drawn to progressive student groups. But I was also pro-life and involved in more conservative religious groups on campus. My friends and I often felt like we didn’t fit anywhere politically.
Over the decades since then, I’ve often been frustrated and befuddled by what felt to me like the arbitrary bundling of political issues in each party.