Blog of Rights

This Week in Civil Liberties (10/14/2011)

By Rekha Arulanantham, ACLU at 6:04pm

In what state has an anti-immigrant law sent immigrants fleeing?

Which County Sheriff is running for cover after the ACLU exposed brutal conditions in his jail?

Which legislative body voted this week to allow hospitals to refuse emergency abortion care to women dying of pregnancy complications?

What can you get in exchange for giving up your privacy (and some urine)?

What new ACLU interactive tracks the legacy of the Patriot Act?

Which organization's test policy does not accommodate breast-feeding mothers in pain enough time to pump?

ACLU Lens: Alabama in Chaos as Residents Flee After Immigration Law Takes Effect
Alabama has been in a state of utter chaos following a federal judge's Sept. 28 ruling upholding some of the worst provisions of H.B. 56, the state's draconian anti-immigrant law. The ACLU and ACLU of Alabama, along with a coalition of civil rights groups, are working to protect the rights of all Alabamians by ensuring that the community has accurate information about the law. We are meeting with members of the community from across the state, informing them of their rights and helping maintain a hotline for people to call for information or report problems related to the law.

Under ACLU Fire, Baca Running for Cover
Under intense media criticism and mounting political pressure, Los Angeles County Sheriff Joe Baca this week pledged to investigate dozens of allegations of brutal abuse of inmates by sheriff's deputies at the Los Angeles County Jail made public last month by the ACLU – a promise that is a day late and a dollar short.  

Watch Your Back — They're Gambling with Your Life
The House voted this week on an unprecedented bill that would allow hospitals to let women die at their doorsteps. It sounds almost unbelievable — but utter disregard for the well-being of women who need abortion care has tragically reached new levels in the House.

The bill, the so-called "Protect Life Act" does anything but. Indeed, it gambles with women's lives. It could allow hospitals to ignore the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) which requires that patients in medical emergencies receive appropriate medical treatment, including abortion care if that's what's medically indicated.

Poor People Have Rights Too
As reported yesterday in the New York Times, over the past year three dozen states introduced legislation to drug test individuals receiving public assistance. This includes individuals applying for everything from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to welfare, unemployment and Medicare. Incidentally, you know who isn't being asked to submit to drug testing before receiving public assistance? Bankers, traders and anyone else who received money from the bailout.

Surveillance in Post-9/11 America
Passed amid the climate of fear and uncertainty that followed the 9/11 attacks, the Patriot Act fundamentally altered the relationship Americans have with the government. The bill's passage opened the door to continued efforts to broaden suspicionless surveillance of Americans under the guise of national security, marking the beginning of a massive and unchecked surveillance state in the U.S.

As we approach the 10-year mark since the Patriot Act was signed into law, we've put together a new timeline that charts shifts in surveillance since 9/11, and unfortunately, it paints a rather troubling picture.

Nursing Mom Speaks Out Against LSAC Policy
Earlier this month, a mother was forced to pump milk for her five-year-old son on the bathroom floor of the LSAT test center, after the Law School Admissions Council refused to add an additional 15 minutes onto her break and a private place to pump. Read her first-person account.

This is your week in civil liberties. Let us know if this is useful or if you'd like to see changes. Share your thoughts: ideas@aclu.org

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