Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik (AP Photo/Chris Morrison)
For the past two years, our political life has been charged with intimations of violence. Tea Party activists have brandished guns at meetings with elected officials. (In 2009, a protester dropped a firearm at one of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Safeway meet and greets.) Republican politicians have hinted at "Second Amendment solutions," in the words of Senate candidate Sharron Angle, to the intolerable tyranny of the Obama administration. Last summer, a conservative radio host told a Tea Party rally, "If ballots don’t work, bullets will." She was later hired as chief of staff for newly elected Congressman Allen West, though controversy soon forced her resignation.
In the final days of health-care reform, we're once again mired in a dispiriting debate about whether the legislation is sufficiently anti-abortion. The Senate health-care bill will allow states to ban insurance policies that include abortion from their insurance exchanges. In states where such policies are allowed, women will have to send a separate check for the portion of the plan that covers abortion, which very few are likely to do. Still, conservative Democrats in the House complain the legislation doesn't go far enough – they want plans that cover abortion removed from the exchanges altogether. It's become clear that if health-care reform passes, it's going to significantly erode, and probably end, insurance coverage for abortion.
It rarely occurs to me anymore to pick up The Village Voice, but when I was growing up the paper had talismanic powers. I was stuck in a grim suburb, miserable and alienated in ways that were no less painful for being completely cliché; the Voice was my window into the scintillating downtown of my dreams, a promise of a future life worth living. (This was before the Internet made bohemia accessible to everyone.) My favorite writer was Ellen Willis, though I didn't know enough to understand how original she was. I just knew that everything she wrote made a powerful sort of sense and that she was who I wanted to be when I grew up.
A young member of a feminist group protests in front of Nicaragua's Supreme Court in Managua. The banners reads in Spanish "Legalization Now." (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
In the Nicaraguan city of Leon, a 27-year-old, known only as Amalia, is being denied treatment for cancer because she's 10 weeks pregnant and chemotherapy would harm her fetus. Since 2006, abortion has been illegal in Nicaragua under all circumstances, even when a woman's life is at stake, so while Amalia is in the hospital, nothing is being done for her. Amalia's sister has gone public, desperately seeking to pressure the government to help keep Amalia, who has a 10-year-old daughter, alive. La Prensa, Nicaragua's main newspaper, quoted her sister making a public statement interrupted by sobs.