by Gabriel Andreescu
If it were adopted, the Draft Law on the establishment, functioning and organization of crisis pregnancy counseling offices would have to face the European Court for Human Rights and other institutions meant to watch over Romania’s compliance with its international obligations. This study shows that the draft law violates three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights: article 3, that guarantees the right not to be subjected to torture, or to inhuman or degrading treatment; article 8, that protects the right to private and family life; and article 9, meant to defend the freedom of thought, conscience and religion. A state may pass anti-abortion legislation that is consistent with the guarantees of the European Convention, but is faces severe limitations when defining counseling protocols for crisis pregnancy.
1. The draft law regarding crisis pregnancy counseling offices
On 13 March 2012, the Chamber of Deputies entered into record the draft law on the establishment, functioning and organization of crisis pregnancy counseling offices. The draft law was signed by 50 deputies. The vast majority of them are members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), joined by the leaders of some of the organizations representing national minorities in Parliament. The proposal enjoyed widespread mass media exposure.
The public debate following the legislative initiative was exceedingly heated. 35 pro-life organizations asked the Romanian Parliament, the Romanian Government, the Romanian College of Physicians and the National Society of Family Medicine to pass the draft law „as is”. Among their arguments: crisis pregnancy counseling protects the women’s health, and their physical and psychological integrity, it reduces the abortion rate, and it gives to women’s right to information the status of public exigency.
by Paul Kurtz
At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in September 1787, a
citizen approached Benjamin Franklin and asked what sort of government the assembled statesmen had given them“A republic if you can, keep it ” Franklin is eputed to have replied.
Can we keep it? That is an urgent question that needs to be asked anew today, more than two centuries after the American Republic began. The Roman Republic lasted but two centuries, and then it was supplanted by the Roman Empire. Has the American democratic republic, too, become so fragile that its survival is in doubt? This gnawing question is being raised again, as we face ominous terrorist threats and as demands for security preempt concerns for civil liberties, at least in the minds of many. America has faced awesome challenges in its past. Slavery engulfed the young republic in discord, for it contradicted the very premise of the new democracy—that each person was equal in dignity and value. Only the Civil War could resolve that conflict. The Great Depression of the 1930s and the Cold War that followed World War II also posed awesome challenges. Similarly, the exclusion of women, blacks, gays, and other minorities from full participation in American democracy aroused bitter controversy.
There were ominous threats to our democratic republic during the Bush administration, and I wish to examine some of these trends. Many democrats are disturbed by the implications of the “War On Terror ” the enactmen of the Patriot Act the tightening of our borders xenophobic fear of the “enemy ” and the severe reduction of civil liberties. But there are still other threats to democracy. Most of these have been building for decades—well before the confrontation with the new Islamic jihad. As a result, American democracy has eroded so seriously that perhaps we have already become a post-democratic society. The United States has just undergone a drawn-out and acrimonious, even bitter, national election. As we go to press, Mr. Bush has been declared the winner of the presidency; and the Republicans have maintained control of the Congress.
HOW U.S. EQUAL PAY LAW HAS FAILED WOMEN AND WHY SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE
by Marcia S. Cohen, Esq.
Marcia S. Cohen, P.A.
111 Second Avenue NE, Suite 706
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701 USA
©2012 Marcia S. Cohen
The White House Council on Women and Girls was created by President Barack Obama
in early 2009 to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by American women and girls. As part of its mission, the Council partnered with several government agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Commerce, to create a report on the status of U.S. females. The report particularly highlighted the following significant facts:
Women have made enormous progress on some fronts. Women have not only caught up with men in college attendance, but younger women are now more likely than younger men to have a college or a master’s degree. Women are also working more and the number of women and men in the labor force has nearly equalized in recent years. As women’s work has increased, their earnings constitute a growing share of family income. Yet, these gains in education and labor force involvement have not yet translated into wage and income equity. At all levels of education, women earned about 75% of what their male counterparts earned in 2009. In part because of these lower earnings and in part because unmarried and divorced women are the most likely to have responsibility for raising and supporting their children, women are more likely to be in poverty than men. These economic inequities are even more acute for women of color.
Although the U.S. Congress passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963 as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, it has not proven successful in remedying pay inequality between men and women.
by David C. Berliner, Gene V. Glass and Associates.
(Teachers College Press, 2014, 260 pp), $27.95.
A review by Edd Doerr
In this goldmine of a book veteran educators David Berliner, Gene Glass and their 19 associates from major universities dissect the myths and lies being used to undermine the public schools that serve 90% of our kids and that are an essential part of our democracy. They unmask the hoaxes of charter schools, vouchers, neovouchers (tax credits), and other gimmicks used by pseudo-reformers, privateers, privatizers, theocrats, ultraconservatives, hedge fund managers, and others to divert public funds to private faith-based schools and charter schools removed from public control. They back what educator Diane Ravitch explained on Bill Moyers’ program in late March that the pseudo-reformers will reduce our public schools to little more than dumping grounds for the kids not wanted by publicly funded but privately run charter and voucher schools.
The authors explore and refute the criticisms of our public schools, show that the privatizers really do not know enough to run schools effectively, and make clear that the privatizers have nothing but contempt for the public who supposedly control the schools they pay for and for current public school teachers. Their 50 wide-ranging chapters show that charter and voucher schools are no improvement over our underfunded and inequitably funded public schools, that any seeming private or charter school advantage is due to their selectivity, that smaller classes are good for education (which is why affluent parents like elite private schools). They carve up the fads and fallacies of “abstinence only” sex ed, “zero tolerance” policies, school uniforms, retaining kids in grade (flunking), and the opposition to pre-K education. Importantly, they show how much public money is currently being siphoned into religion based private schools.
About the only things missing from this extraordinarily comprehensive book is mention of the 27 referendum elections from coast to coast between 1966 and 2012 in which millions of voters rejected all efforts to divert public funds to private schools by an average two to one and the annual Gallup/PDK polls of public opinion on public school issues.
James A. Haught
A HUGE NEWS STORY, BARELY NOTICED
(The Charleston Gazette - Nov. 9, 2010)
Philosopher-historian Will Durant called it "the basic event of modern times." He didn't mean the world wars, or the end of colonialism, or the rise of electronics. He was talking about the decline of religion in Western democracies.
The great mentor saw subsiding faith as the most profound occurrence of the past century -- a shift of Western civilization, rather like former transitions away from the age of kings, the era of slavery and such epochs.
Since World War II, worship has dwindled starkly in Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan and other advanced democracies. In those busy places, only 5 or 10 percent of adults now attend church. Secular society scurries along heedlessly.
Pope Benedict XVI protested: "Europe has developed a culture that, in a manner unknown before now to humanity, excludes God from the public conscience." Columnist George Will called the Vatican "109 acres of faith in a European sea of unbelief."
America seems an exception. This country has 350,000 churches whose members donate $100 billion per year. The United States teems with booming megachurches, gigantic sales of "Rapture" books, fundamentalist attacks on evolution, hundred-million-dollar TV ministries, talking-in-tongues Pentecostals, the white evangelical "religious right" attached to the Republican Party, and the like.
But quietly, under the radar, much of America slowly is following the path previously taken by Europe. Little noticed, secularism keeps climbing in the United States. Here's the evidence:
| Rising "nones." Various polls find a strong increase in the number of Americans -- especially the young -- who answer "none" when asked their religion. In 1990, this group had climbed to 8 percent, and by 2008, it had doubled to 15 percent -- plus another 5 percent who answer "don't know." This implies that around 45 million U.S. adults today lack church affiliation. In Hawaii, more than half say they have no church connection.
Marcia S. Cohen P.A.
David C. Berliner, Gene V. Glass and
James A. Haught