Despite Global Recognition, the Plight of Guantánamo’s Best-Selling Author Worsens

Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s 13th year of captivity in Guantánamo has been remarkable in many ways.

Guantánamo Diary,” his story of torture and unlawful detention by the United States, was finally published and has become a best-seller, earning rave reviews around the world and a Hollywood movie deal. Readers continue to marvel at a book that’s been called a “masterpiece” and “literary magic,” written by a man whose “unfailing humanity is the constant thread throughout.” Celebrities like Jude Law and Benedict Cumberbatch are reading Mohamedou’s work for a global audience. Almost 50,000 people have signed the ACLU’s petition calling for his freedom.

But Mohamedou’s despair only grows, because the Obama administration is still denying this innocent man what he most urgently needs: freedom.

Today, we asked a federal judge to order the Defense Department to give Mohamedou a hearing mandated years ago by President Obama. That hearing, before a Pentagon body called the Periodic Review Board (PRB), would give Mohamedou the opportunity to show that he poses no threat to the United States and must be set free. He’s entitled by law to this administrative process, and it could be the key to sending him home. 

We also asked the court to end harsh restrictions the Defense Department recently imposed on Mohamedou without any explanation, depriving him of personal items that give him comfort, including family photos and gifts from U.S. military prison guards who became his friends. These cruel deprivations are making Mohamedou’s ordeal even more unendurable.

The PRB process isn’t the only way the U.S. government could set Mohamedou free. The Defense Department could also stop fighting Mohamedou’s federal habeas corpus lawsuit, which challenges the legality of his initial detention. In the case, Mohamedou has argued that his capture by the U.S. in his home country of Mauritania in 2001 — far from any battlefield — and his subsequent detention and torture in Jordan, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo, are unlawful. In 2010, the federal judge in his case agreed, rightly discounting evidence obtained from torture and finding that the government failed to show Mohamedou was “part of” al-Qaida at the time of his capture. But after the judge ordered Mohamedou released, the Obama administration appealed as part of a strategy it pursued for all Guantánamo habeas cases, in which it successfully persuaded the appeals court to adopt looser legal and evidentiary standards to keep some Guantánamo prisoners indefinitely detained — but never charged with a crime.  

That case is still pending. In the meantime, we’re asking for a prompt PRB hearing for Mohamedou. Despite President Obama’s 2011 order that the hearings take place within a year, the Defense Department has dragged its feet. As we told the court, this is a hearing to which Mohamedou is entitled by the Constitution, statute, and the laws of war.

Even as the Pentagon has denied Mohamedou a process that could set him free, it’s dealing harsh blows to his emotional and mental well-being.

Guantánamo prison officials have taken from Mohamedou photos of his brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews — family he hasn’t seen for over 14 years. They didn’t stop there. During Mohamedou’s imprisonment at Guantánamo, he became friends with several of his military guards. Some of them gave him books with personal dedications to him, which he describes in Guantánamo Diary. For example: “I wish you good luck, and I am sure I will think of you often,” and “I hope you think of us as more than just guards. I think we all became friends.” These books and dedications are gone. So is the computer an interrogator gave him several years ago. That computer didn’t have internet capability, and Mohamedou used it to write programs, including for chess games, and to give prison guards programming lessons. For Mohamedou, the computer was a means of keeping his mind active — he used it to try to recover from the torture he suffered in U.S. custody.

We are hopeful that the court will order the relief Mohamedou seeks, and that this will be the year he is finally free to rebuild his life in peace. And we are mindful that it has now been six years since President Obama first vowed to close Guantánamo. The clock is ticking.

The ACLU has asked a federal judge to order the Defense Department to give Slahi a hearing mandated by the president.

Despite Global Recognition, the Plight of Guantánamo’s Best-Selling Author Worsens

Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s 13th year of captivity in Guantánamo has been remarkable in many ways.

Guantánamo Diary,” his story of torture and unlawful detention by the United States, was finally published and has become a best-seller, earning rave reviews around the world and a Hollywood movie deal. Readers continue to marvel at a book that’s been called a “masterpiece” and “literary magic,” written by a man whose “unfailing humanity is the constant thread throughout.” Celebrities like Jude Law and Benedict Cumberbatch are reading Mohamedou’s work for a global audience. Almost 50,000 people have signed the ACLU’s petition calling for his freedom.

But Mohamedou’s despair only grows, because the Obama administration is still denying this innocent man what he most urgently needs: freedom.

Today, we asked a federal judge to order the Defense Department to give Mohamedou a hearing mandated years ago by President Obama. That hearing, before a Pentagon body called the Periodic Review Board (PRB), would give Mohamedou the opportunity to show that he poses no threat to the United States and must be set free. He’s entitled by law to this administrative process, and it could be the key to sending him home. 

We also asked the court to end harsh restrictions the Defense Department recently imposed on Mohamedou without any explanation, depriving him of personal items that give him comfort, including family photos and gifts from U.S. military prison guards who became his friends. These cruel deprivations are making Mohamedou’s ordeal even more unendurable.

The PRB process isn’t the only way the U.S. government could set Mohamedou free. The Defense Department could also stop fighting Mohamedou’s federal habeas corpus lawsuit, which challenges the legality of his initial detention. In the case, Mohamedou has argued that his capture by the U.S. in his home country of Mauritania in 2001 — far from any battlefield — and his subsequent detention and torture in Jordan, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo, are unlawful. In 2010, the federal judge in his case agreed, rightly discounting evidence obtained from torture and finding that the government failed to show Mohamedou was “part of” al-Qaida at the time of his capture. But after the judge ordered Mohamedou released, the Obama administration appealed as part of a strategy it pursued for all Guantánamo habeas cases, in which it successfully persuaded the appeals court to adopt looser legal and evidentiary standards to keep some Guantánamo prisoners indefinitely detained — but never charged with a crime.  

That case is still pending. In the meantime, we’re asking for a prompt PRB hearing for Mohamedou. Despite President Obama’s 2011 order that the hearings take place within a year, the Defense Department has dragged its feet. As we told the court, this is a hearing to which Mohamedou is entitled by the Constitution, statute, and the laws of war.

Even as the Pentagon has denied Mohamedou a process that could set him free, it’s dealing harsh blows to his emotional and mental well-being.

Guantánamo prison officials have taken from Mohamedou photos of his brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews — family he hasn’t seen for over 14 years. They didn’t stop there. During Mohamedou’s imprisonment at Guantánamo, he became friends with several of his military guards. Some of them gave him books with personal dedications to him, which he describes in Guantánamo Diary. For example: “I wish you good luck, and I am sure I will think of you often,” and “I hope you think of us as more than just guards. I think we all became friends.” These books and dedications are gone. So is the computer an interrogator gave him several years ago. That computer didn’t have internet capability, and Mohamedou used it to write programs, including for chess games, and to give prison guards programming lessons. For Mohamedou, the computer was a means of keeping his mind active — he used it to try to recover from the torture he suffered in U.S. custody.

We are hopeful that the court will order the relief Mohamedou seeks, and that this will be the year he is finally free to rebuild his life in peace. And we are mindful that it has now been six years since President Obama first vowed to close Guantánamo. The clock is ticking.

The ACLU has asked a federal judge to order the Defense Department to give Slahi a hearing mandated by the president.

Let’s Turn McKinney into an Opportunity

On June 5th McKinney police responded to a complaint regarding unwanted teenagers at a community pool. What ought to have been relegated to a footnote in a local police blotter has become yet another variation on a depressingly routine theme in the racial politics of American policing. Rather than exercising common sense and restraint, officers on the scene opted for escalation, intimidation, and excessive force against a group of young black people.


When we see the image of a McKinney cop drawing his weapon on two unarmed black teens while pressing his knee into the back of a 15 year-old girl who’s calling out for her mother, it is a wretched sign of the times that one of our first thoughts is, “It could have been worse.” But it could have been worse, because it has been, for Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and on and on. Mercifully no lives were lost in McKinney last weekend, but the encounter nevertheless calls attention to the fact that we need a fundamental and comprehensive overhaul of our police practices, particularly when it comes to youth and communities of color.

No one should lose his life at the hands of law enforcement for selling cigarettes. No one should lose his life for taking a toy gun off the shelf in a Wal-Mart. And no one should fear for her life for visiting a community pool and objecting to her treatment by law enforcement.

The path forward is clear. According to the President’s report on 21st Century Policing, police departments need to adopt zero-tolerance policies towards racial profiling, and to increase training in implicit bias, use of force, and de-escalation techniques. Officers need to begin thinking of themselves as guardians rather than as warriors, as parts of the communities they patrol rather than as occupiers of those communities. Police departments need to engage in more and more productive dialogues with the communities they serve, to establish transparency and clear chains of accountability, and should stop altogether the aggressive enforcement of low-level infractions in communities of color. Until each and every one of these conditions are met, precisely no one should question why black teens flee when police show up.

If you wonder what that might look like, consider Nashville, where police essentially provided security for peaceful Ferguson protesters rather than lobbing tear gas grenades at them. Consider Las Vegas, which has implemented nearly 80 separate reforms in order to reduce its number of officer-involved shootings. Consider Richmond, where teens are recruited for community outreach rather than being slammed to the ground and handcuffed.

The fact that the offending officer has resigned from the McKinney police department does not settle the issue. The continued insistence that police abuse is the result of “bad apple” officers’ misbehavior actually creates an obstacle to comprehensive reform. We already have the knowledge, the tools, and the road map to bring community policing to every city in the nation. Now all we need is the will.

Take Action: Call for community policing reforms throughout the state of Texas.

Top 10 Reasons Why Protecting Pregnant Workers Is Good For Us All

In late March, the Supreme Court issued an important ruling for pregnant workers, stating that employers cannot impose a “significant burden” on pregnant workers and that an employer is not justified in making accommodations for a large percentage of non-pregnant workers, while denying the same kinds of accommodations to pregnant workers.

This was awesome. But more is needed.

That’s why we’re supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a federal bill modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires employers to make reasonable, temporary accommodations for pregnant workers who need them, as long as doing so won’t be an undue hardship for the employer. The bill will ensure women nationwide can continue to contribute to the economy and support their families, while having healthy pregnancies.

Check out the top 10 reasons why the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is important, not just for pregnant workers, but for us all:

  1. It’s good for families.

    The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will be good for the economic security of women and their families. When women are forced out of the workplace while pregnant, they can lose their income and health benefits just when they and their families need them most, sometimes sending them into a dangerous financial spiral.
     

  2. It curbs discrimination.

    The bill prevents employers from forcing pregnant women out of the workplace by placing them on unpaid leave, firing them, or forcing them to quit when they are denied the reasonable accommodations that they need to continue working safely during their pregnancies. The bill thus puts women on an equal footing in the workforce.
     

  3. It’s good for business.

    Employers have every reason to want to keep their good employees producing for them. A happy employee makes a company richer (it’s proven), and a pregnant worker who is protected under the law can continue to work during her pregnancy. It’s in everyone’s best interest — pregnant workers, employers, coworkers and family members — to keep those in the workforce working and protected so they focus on doing the best job possible.
     

  4. It’s good for the economy.

    What’s good for business is good for the economy. When women are forced out of the workforce despite being able and eager to work, they are less able to contribute to the economy and may need to turn to social services just to get by. Everyone benefits when women fuel our economy, including when they’re pregnant.
     

  5. It’s good for our health.

    Under current law, women are too often forced to choose between their jobs and the health of their pregnancies, and some may feel compelled to do work that their doctors recommend they avoid while pregnant. This bill will help ensure women don’t face that choice and will lead to healthier outcomes.
     

  6. It provides a clear rule for businesses to follow.

    The Supreme Court in March ruled in favor of pregnant workers, holding that employers can’t cut them out of accommodations that other workers receive. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act goes further by providing a simple, uniform standard: Employers must provide reasonable accommodations as long as it’s not an undue hardship to do so, regardless of how it treats other workers.
     

  7. It promotes safety.

    A pregnant worker shouldn’t have to choose between keeping her job and having a healthy pregnancy. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will ensure that a pregnant worker can carry out her job duties without risking her safety, the safety of her pregnancy, and the safety of those around her. A safe work environment means decreased chances of accidents on the job and increased confidence among employees.
     

  8. The bill has a lot of support.

    A broad range of business associations, women’s advocacy groups, and workers’ groups support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. States and cities across the country have already acted on a bipartisan basis to pass laws protecting pregnant workers, which lawmakers recognize as common-sense measures that benefit everyone. The bill introduced on the federal level today already has bipartisan support.
     

  9. It impacts a lot of people.

    In the past 12 months alone, 62 percent of pregnant women and new moms were working. More than 4.2 million women gave birth in the last 12 months alone. Of course, pregnancy doesn’t just impact the person having the baby, but the partners, spouses, children, parents, siblings, and more whose lives and livelihoods may be affected.
     

  10. It’s the right thing to do.

    It can’t be easy carrying a baby and working full-time. We shouldn’t make it any more difficult by allowing employers to fire pregnant workers at will or putting them in dangerous situations where they have to choose between a healthy pregnancy or a job.

We have the power to protect pregnant workers, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is our chance.

Learn more about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act ensures pregnant workers don’t have to choose their health and safety over their job.

Top 10 Reasons Why Protecting Pregnant Workers Is Good For Us All

In late March, the Supreme Court issued an important ruling for pregnant workers, stating that employers cannot impose a “significant burden” on pregnant workers and that an employer is not justified in making accommodations for a large percentage of non-pregnant workers, while denying the same kinds of accommodations to pregnant workers.

This was awesome. But more is needed.

That’s why we’re supporting the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a federal bill modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires employers to make reasonable, temporary accommodations for pregnant workers who need them, as long as doing so won’t be an undue hardship for the employer. The bill will ensure women nationwide can continue to contribute to the economy and support their families, while having healthy pregnancies.

Check out the top 10 reasons why the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is important, not just for pregnant workers, but for us all:

  1. It’s good for families.

    The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will be good for the economic security of women and their families. When women are forced out of the workplace while pregnant, they can lose their income and health benefits just when they and their families need them most, sometimes sending them into a dangerous financial spiral.
     

  2. It curbs discrimination.

    The bill prevents employers from forcing pregnant women out of the workplace by placing them on unpaid leave, firing them, or forcing them to quit when they are denied the reasonable accommodations that they need to continue working safely during their pregnancies. The bill thus puts women on an equal footing in the workforce.
     

  3. It’s good for business.

    Employers have every reason to want to keep their good employees producing for them. A happy employee makes a company richer (it’s proven), and a pregnant worker who is protected under the law can continue to work during her pregnancy. It’s in everyone’s best interest — pregnant workers, employers, coworkers and family members — to keep those in the workforce working and protected so they focus on doing the best job possible.
     

  4. It’s good for the economy.

    What’s good for business is good for the economy. When women are forced out of the workforce despite being able and eager to work, they are less able to contribute to the economy and may need to turn to social services just to get by. Everyone benefits when women fuel our economy, including when they’re pregnant.
     

  5. It’s good for our health.

    Under current law, women are too often forced to choose between their jobs and the health of their pregnancies, and some may feel compelled to do work that their doctors recommend they avoid while pregnant. This bill will help ensure women don’t face that choice and will lead to healthier outcomes.
     

  6. It provides a clear rule for businesses to follow.

    The Supreme Court in March ruled in favor of pregnant workers, holding that employers can’t cut them out of accommodations that other workers receive. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act goes further by providing a simple, uniform standard: Employers must provide reasonable accommodations as long as it’s not an undue hardship to do so, regardless of how it treats other workers.
     

  7. It promotes safety.

    A pregnant worker shouldn’t have to choose between keeping her job and having a healthy pregnancy. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will ensure that a pregnant worker can carry out her job duties without risking her safety, the safety of her pregnancy, and the safety of those around her. A safe work environment means decreased chances of accidents on the job and increased confidence among employees.
     

  8. The bill has a lot of support.

    A broad range of business associations, women’s advocacy groups, and workers’ groups support the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. States and cities across the country have already acted on a bipartisan basis to pass laws protecting pregnant workers, which lawmakers recognize as common-sense measures that benefit everyone. The bill introduced on the federal level today already has bipartisan support.
     

  9. It impacts a lot of people.

    In the past 12 months alone, 62 percent of pregnant women and new moms were working. More than 4.2 million women gave birth in the last 12 months alone. Of course, pregnancy doesn’t just impact the person having the baby, but the partners, spouses, children, parents, siblings, and more whose lives and livelihoods may be affected.
     

  10. It’s the right thing to do.

    It can’t be easy carrying a baby and working full-time. We shouldn’t make it any more difficult by allowing employers to fire pregnant workers at will or putting them in dangerous situations where they have to choose between a healthy pregnancy or a job.

We have the power to protect pregnant workers, and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is our chance.

Learn more about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act ensures pregnant workers don’t have to choose their health and safety over their job.

Texas Says ‘No Thanks’ to LGBT Discrimination

Everything is bigger in Texas, including apparently the legislature’s desire to use religion and any other means to discriminate against gay and transgender Texans.

In the last legislative session, the legislature threw virtually everything it had at the wall. One bill would have prohibited state funding of marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Another would have removed the hard-won civil rights protections in the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A third bill would have allowed organizations receiving taxpayer funds to undermine children’s best interests by denying adoption or foster care placements and health care services, including reproductive care and counseling, under the guise of religious freedom. In other words, some state politicians really wanted to remind gay and transgender Texans that many of their elected representatives appeared to be working actively against their interests.

Fortunately, bigger still was the coalition that came together to defeat all of these bills. Yes, you heard it right: Every single one of nearly two dozen discriminatory pieces of legislation failed to pass. What was the magic formula? Credit is due to an incredibly broad swath of Texans — including faith leaders, business owners, and thousands of ordinary citizens — who made calls, visits, and otherwise reached out to the legislature to tell them in no uncertain terms that these mean-spirited bills do not reflect Texan or American values.

Our victory in Texas is the latest example of how the country is rejecting the use of religion to discriminate. We learned from and built upon our successes in 2014, when sports teams, politicians, religious leaders, and Americans across the country united in opposition to Arizona’s notorious SB 1062. Just a few months ago, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana paid a heavy price, both in dollars (estimated to be in the “hundreds of millions” according to one in-state economist) and in poll numbers (a double-digit drop in his approval rating in just two months), for signing a bill into law that he steadfastly denied was for discriminatory reasons, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Even though the so-called “fixes” to the Indiana and Arkansas RFRAs were inadequate (see our statements on Indiana and Arkansas), the vigorous public outcry and eventual fallout led legislators in Georgia, Maine, Montana, and Nevada to wisely say no thanks to discrimination.

While we pause to celebrate our progress, we are still keeping a close eye on state legislatures that have yet to heed the warning. Yes, we are looking at you, Michigan and North Carolina. And we are preparing for 2016, when marriage equality may be a nationwide reality.

Will legislatures do the right thing? We certainly hope so, but of course don’t know for certain. However, what we do know is that people across the country stand ready to fight back.

Our victory in Texas is the latest example of how the country is rejecting the use of religion to discriminate.

Texas Says ‘No Thanks’ to LGBT Discrimination

Everything is bigger in Texas, including apparently the legislature’s desire to use religion and any other means to discriminate against gay and transgender Texans.

In the last legislative session, the legislature threw virtually everything it had at the wall. One bill would have prohibited state funding of marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Another would have removed the hard-won civil rights protections in the state Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A third bill would have allowed organizations receiving taxpayer funds to undermine children’s best interests by denying adoption or foster care placements and health care services, including reproductive care and counseling, under the guise of religious freedom. In other words, some state politicians really wanted to remind gay and transgender Texans that many of their elected representatives appeared to be working actively against their interests.

Fortunately, bigger still was the coalition that came together to defeat all of these bills. Yes, you heard it right: Every single one of nearly two dozen discriminatory pieces of legislation failed to pass. What was the magic formula? Credit is due to an incredibly broad swath of Texans — including faith leaders, business owners, and thousands of ordinary citizens — who made calls, visits, and otherwise reached out to the legislature to tell them in no uncertain terms that these mean-spirited bills do not reflect Texan or American values.

Our victory in Texas is the latest example of how the country is rejecting the use of religion to discriminate. We learned from and built upon our successes in 2014, when sports teams, politicians, religious leaders, and Americans across the country united in opposition to Arizona’s notorious SB 1062. Just a few months ago, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana paid a heavy price, both in dollars (estimated to be in the “hundreds of millions” according to one in-state economist) and in poll numbers (a double-digit drop in his approval rating in just two months), for signing a bill into law that he steadfastly denied was for discriminatory reasons, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Even though the so-called “fixes” to the Indiana and Arkansas RFRAs were inadequate (see our statements on Indiana and Arkansas), the vigorous public outcry and eventual fallout led legislators in Georgia, Maine, Montana, and Nevada to wisely say no thanks to discrimination.

While we pause to celebrate our progress, we are still keeping a close eye on state legislatures that have yet to heed the warning. Yes, we are looking at you, Michigan and North Carolina. And we are preparing for 2016, when marriage equality may be a nationwide reality.

Will legislatures do the right thing? We certainly hope so, but of course don’t know for certain. However, what we do know is that people across the country stand ready to fight back.

Our victory in Texas is the latest example of how the country is rejecting the use of religion to discriminate.

Why Is Arizona Forcing Doctors to Lie to Women Who Need Abortions?

Ask yourself this question: Should the government be able to force your doctor to lie to you about medical care?

You are probably thinking that this is a no-brainer — that it’s too obvious for words that the government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing your doctor to practice bad medicine. 

And it is, unless you’re a woman who lives in Arizona.

In April, politicians passed a law that forces doctors to give patients inaccurate information. Under Arizona’s new law, doctors must mislead their patients by telling every woman seeking an abortion that a medication abortion may be reversed.

Simply put, this law would force doctors to practice bad medicine. There is no credible medical evidence that any abortion, medication or otherwise, may be reversed.

That’s why the leading organization of women’s health care physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, opposes Arizona’s extreme law. And that’s why we filed a lawsuit today against the state of Arizona — because allowing politicians to force doctors to violate their patients’ trust and lie to them is grossly unethical and unconstitutional.

But what’s really frightening: Arizona’s offensive new law is just one of a profusion of recent bills based on politics, not medicine, which are aimed at preventing women from getting an abortion or shaming and humiliating them if they do.

In the first quarter of 2015 alone, more than 330 abortion restrictions were introduced in 43 states.

This includes bills from Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina, which force a woman to wait for days before she can get an abortion after she’s already made the decision. The message couldn’t be any clearer or more patronizing: “Honey, you should go home and really think this through.”

It includes new laws from Indiana and Tennessee that impose burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion clinics with the sole goal of forcing them to close down.

And it includes a slew of attempts by politicians in Wisconsin, West Virginia, and even Congress to simply ban abortions.

It’s clear that extreme legislators aren’t slowing down. But we aren’t either.

Our message is clear. Politicians should stop trying to play doctor, because the exam room is no place for politics.

Doctors must mislead their patients by telling every woman seeking an abortion that a medication abortion may be reversed.

Why Is Arizona Forcing Doctors to Lie to Women Who Need Abortions?

Ask yourself this question: Should the government be able to force your doctor to lie to you about medical care?

You are probably thinking that this is a no-brainer — that it’s too obvious for words that the government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing your doctor to practice bad medicine. 

And it is, unless you’re a woman who lives in Arizona.

In April, politicians passed a law that forces doctors to give patients inaccurate information. Under Arizona’s new law, doctors must mislead their patients by telling every woman seeking an abortion that a medication abortion may be reversed.

Simply put, this law would force doctors to practice bad medicine. There is no credible medical evidence that any abortion, medication or otherwise, may be reversed.

That’s why the leading organization of women’s health care physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, opposes Arizona’s extreme law. And that’s why we filed a lawsuit today against the state of Arizona — because allowing politicians to force doctors to violate their patients’ trust and lie to them is grossly unethical and unconstitutional.

But what’s really frightening: Arizona’s offensive new law is just one of a profusion of recent bills based on politics, not medicine, which are aimed at preventing women from getting an abortion or shaming and humiliating them if they do.

In the first quarter of 2015 alone, more than 330 abortion restrictions were introduced in 43 states.

This includes bills from Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina, which force a woman to wait for days before she can get an abortion after she’s already made the decision. The message couldn’t be any clearer or more patronizing: “Honey, you should go home and really think this through.”

It includes new laws from Indiana and Tennessee that impose burdensome and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion clinics with the sole goal of forcing them to close down.

And it includes a slew of attempts by politicians in Wisconsin, West Virginia, and even Congress to simply ban abortions.

It’s clear that extreme legislators aren’t slowing down. But we aren’t either.

Our message is clear. Politicians should stop trying to play doctor, because the exam room is no place for politics.

Doctors must mislead their patients by telling every woman seeking an abortion that a medication abortion may be reversed.

Call Her Caitlyn But Then Let’s Move on to the Issues Affecting the Trans Community

Today Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world in a fabulous Vanity Fair spread. “Call me Caitlyn,” she tells the public in this latest cover story and through her recently launched @Caitlyn­­_Jenner Twitter handle.

It is important that people do actually call her Caitlyn.

Words matter and erasing the identity of trans people by calling them by their birth names and birth-assigned sex is an act of hatred — one that is inextricable from the brutal violence that so many trans people, particularly trans women of color, encounter just for existing in the world.

How we talk about trans people sets the tone for the world in which trans people live.

And because young trans people are dying by suicide and trans women of color are being murdered at alarming rates, those of us forming public narratives about trans celebrities have an obligation to tell those stories with care.

When we write about Caitlyn Jenner, her name and narrative will give enough context. There is no need to mention what her name used to be or what sex she was assigned at birth. And as writer and activist Janet Mock brilliantly explained to Piers Morgan, neither Janet nor Caitlyn were “born boys.” They were born babies and they are women — brave and fabulous women.

But as brave and fabulous as Caitlyn Jenner is, and she is both of those things, her story is so far from the story of most trans peoples’ lives and should not eclipse the truth of the fight for trans justice.  

Telling her story with care means using the right name and pronoun, but it also means highlighting the extent to which it is not the typical trans story. Her story can only be told by also telling the stories of the trans people who are struggling to survive systemic discrimination.

Health care for transgender people remains highly stigmatized and largely unavailable for the majority of trans people. Both private (i.e., employer) and public (i.e. Medicaid) insurance plans continue to have blanket bans on coverage for health care related to gender transition. Even where there has been progress on coverage generally, insurance coverage for care that trans women need is still elusive.

For example, the facial feminization surgery that Caitlyn describes in Vanity Fair is almost universally excluded from coverage. This means that most trans people, particularly trans women of color, cannot access the basic care that they need. It means that going to the doctor feels like a battle — if a trans person can get there at all. It means that trans people participate in criminalized economics like the drug and sex trades to pay for the health care they need or seek the care from friends or unsupervised black markets. It means that trans people die seeking the care they need to live.

To tell Caitlyn’s story with care is to demand justice for trans people.

We must not tell Caitlyn’s story in a vacuum that erases the history of trans organizing, mobilizing, and celebrity of the many trans women who came before her and made her Vanity Fair cover possible. Janet. Laverne. Major. Sylvia. Marsha.

We must not exclaim that Caitlyn looks “fabulous” without interrogating our standards for which trans people get to grace the covers of magazines and all the while continuing to keep the health care that brings life to trans people out of reach.

We must not celebrate Caitlyn without mourning Islan, Lamia, Penny, and the hundreds of other trans women, mostly of color, we have lost to violence. This violence isn’t just at the hands of hateful partners or strangers, but violence in the arms of hateful and exclusionary systems.

Thank you, Caitlyn, for bravely sharing your truth. May your platform shed light on these injustices and the leaders who have been fighting to make them known. 

How we talk about trans people sets the tone for the world in which trans people live.