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This Week in Civil Liberties (3/30/2012)

Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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March 30, 2012

In which state did doctors try to force a pregnant woman to have a c-section against her wishes?

What group can no longer be held in solitary confinement in Mississippi?

How many cells compose a person according to Personhood USA’s definition?

How many states oppose a national ID card?

Which federal agency illegally gathers intelligence on innocent American Muslims?

Your Body, Your Decisions — This Means You, Moms!
Recently, a mother in South Carolina reached out to the ACLU for help. She was pregnant, and although she had had two prior cesarean surgeries, she wished to attempt a “trial of labor,” that is, to give birth naturally, rather than having a scheduled cesarean surgery. The mother’s wish made sense in light of her medical history, and according to professional standards set by obstetricians.

Nevertheless, the mother’s doctors — publically employed physicians working in a public hospital —forced her to schedule a C-section, called her “stupid” for wanting to do otherwise, and threathened to withhold medical care if she refused the surgery and went into labor naturally. In short, even after having made her wishes known to her physicians, the mother was being coerced into undergoing a serious and invasive medical procedure against her will.

“A Picture of Such Horror as Should Be Unrealized Anywhere in the Civilized World”
This week in Mississippi, Judge Carleton Reeves entered a blistering order giving final approval to a consent decree that bans the horrendous practice of subjecting kids convicted as adults to solitary confinement and requires the state to move such kids out of the brutally violent privately run prison where they are currently housed.

Eggs Are People. Really?
A group called Personhood USA has filed a ballot initiative with the Oklahoma secretary of state that would put a constitutional amendment before the Oklahoma voters in November. The amendment would redefine a “person” to exist from the moment of “fusion of a female egg with a human male sperm to form a new cell.”

If it passes, the amendment would endanger the health and lives of pregnant women throughout the state, and would also ban birth control pills and effectively end in vitro fertilization.

Yes, the States Really Reject Real ID
If you’ve been fishing in your pocket trying to find your national ID card, stop. Twenty-five states, either through statute or legislative resolution, rejected the Real ID Act or said they would not comply with Real ID, and 15 states have laws prohibiting compliance with Real ID. But, apparently, Congress hasn’t quite gotten the memo that Real ID is effectively dead. On March 21, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on Real ID. And, it turns out that the states weren’t kidding when they passed those laws. In fact, they still oppose Real ID.

FBI FOIA Docs Show Use of “Mosque Outreach” for Illegal Intel Gathering
FBI documents the ACLU released this week reveal that from 2004 through at least 2008, the San Francisco FBI conducted a “mosque outreach” program through which it compiled intelligence on American Muslim religious organizations and their leaders’ and congregants’ constitutionally protected beliefs and activities, without any suspicion of wrongdoing. The ACLU previously disclosed that the FBI turned its “community outreach” programs into a secret and systematic domestic intelligence-gathering initiative. Now, FBI documents obtained by the ACLU of Northern California, the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian through a Freedom of Information act lawsuit show that the FBI used the similar guise of “mosque outreach” to gather intelligence on mosques and Muslim religious organizations.

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