Opinion: Why 'Doonesbury' gets it wrong
Fredricks supports Texas' abortion law. It's currently being satirized in "Doonesbury" (GoComics.com/doonesbury).
March 15th, 2012
07:46 PM ET

Opinion: Why 'Doonesbury' gets it wrong

Editor's note: Melinda Fredricks is vice chairwoman of the Republican Party of Texas and a member of the Texas Federation of Republican Women. In 2008, she was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. In 2003, Perry appointed her to the Texas Medical Board, which licenses and disciplines physicians.  

For an opposing view, please click here.

By Melinda Fredricks, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Despite opponents’ claims to the contrary, the real controversy concerning the newly enacted Texas Sonogram Law is that it took an act of the legislature to give women considering an abortion the information they deserve about this medical procedure.

Nonetheless, Garry Trudeau decided to make some ugly mischaracterizations of the law in his “Doonesbury” comic strip.

If it weren’t for the damage his misinformation could create, many Texans would just laugh at Trudeau’s ignorance. For one thing, he seems to think our legislature is made up of only middle-aged GOP men. The 21 women legislators who voted for the bill take issue with that, I’m certain. And while the bill was passed overwhelmingly by Republicans, without bi-partisanship the bill could not have passed the Texas Senate.

However, Trudeau’s misinformation crossed over into just plain nasty when he characterized the Texas Sonogram Law as rape. Disappointingly, a brilliant and talented woman such as former ABC news anchor Carole Simpson defended him in her recent article on this site.

Simpson’s argument is based on a statement that a vaginal sonogram is necessary in order to obtain the information required by the law to be given to the patient, and she alleges it “may even damage the reproductive organs of women who dare to seek an abortion.” This begs the questions, if a vaginal ultrasound is so dangerous, then why in the world did the FDA approve it, and why does the National Abortion Federation recommend it as a standard of care for some first-trimester medically induced abortions?


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Filed under: Health • Politics • What we think • Women
Opinion: 'Doonesbury' strip says Texas' abortion law is rape - I agree
"Doonesbury" is currently focusing on Texas' abortion law. You can view the strip at GoComics.com/doonesbury.
March 15th, 2012
07:41 PM ET

Opinion: 'Doonesbury' strip says Texas' abortion law is rape - I agree

Editor's note: Carole Simpson is the leader-in-residence at Emerson College’s School of Communication in Boston, where she teaches journalism and communications classes. She is the first woman or minority to be the sole moderator of a presidential debate, and chronicled her 40 years as a broadcast journalist in her memoir, "Newslady."

For an opposing view, click here.

By Carole Simpson, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau has done it again.  For more than 40 years his comic strip, “Doonesbury” has been criticized for poking fun at presidents, other political figures and government decisions. But his strip is being yanked from some newspapers this week because, for the second time in his career, he has created a storyline that takes on abortion, God forbid.

What prompted Trudeau to invite the wrath of conservative pro-lifers everywhere is the new Texas law, which demeans, demoralizes, and may even damage the reproductive organs of women who dare to seek an abortion.  Passed by the Republican-controlled Texas legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Perry, the law forces a woman who wants an abortion to receive information about her fetus that only can be obtained by a vaginal ultrasound.

During the procedure a doctor inserts a 10-inch sonogram wand into the vagina of a pregnant woman. Then the doctor must show her the image of her fetus and make her listen to the heartbeat.  Then the woman goes home to spend 24 hours considering her decision to abort.  Texas lawmakers wanted to make the procedure so invasive, so painful, and so emotionally devastating that the woman would change her mind.  They hope the woman bears the baby, which may have been conceived through rape or incest, or even if the birth may endanger her life.  It’s a prescription for child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment.

For this week’s “Doonesbury,” Trudeau created a story damning the Texas legislature.  It begins with a Texas woman going to a clinic seeking an abortion.  The nurse tells her:  “The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10” shaming wand.”  WOW.


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Filed under: Health • Politics • What we think • Women
March 14th, 2012
03:57 PM ET

New Orleans drawing undocumented workers from elsewhere in south

By Nick Valencia, CNN

New Orleans (CNN)- Humberto Guzman drove big rigs in Alabama for two months. As an undocumented immigrant from Honduras, he feared being deported everyday.

“The police would come after us a lot,” Guzman said. “Where we parked was the problem because they always asked us for our papers.”

Last week, two more parts of Alabama’s tough immigration law, which makes it more difficult for illegal immigrants to live and work in the state, were blocked by a federal appeals court.  Another piece, requiring schools to check the immigration status of students, was put on hold last year. The entire law is being challenged by the federal government and activist groups.

Anticipating the worst, around the beginning of the year, Guzman packed his belongings and headed for Louisiana. He was familiar with the state. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, illegal immigrants like Guzman flocked to the city. They came in droves, drawn by the high paying jobs.


March 12th, 2012
08:42 PM ET

Re-creating civil rights march to highlight voter & immigration issues

Editor's note: Gustavo Valdes is a CNNE journalist who covered the reenactment of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for his network. He turned the English language video above exclusively for In America. You can follow him @gustavocnn.   One of the focuses of the march was new voter ID laws, which will be the center of an In America documentary airing on CNN in July.

(CNN) – The six-day re-enactment of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march ended on the steps of the Alabama Capitol Friday with supporters calling to repeal voter ID laws and Alabama's HB56, a strict anti-immigration law.

This year's march, to mark the 47th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, focused on two main issues. One was the new voter ID laws, which organizer the Rev. Al Sharpton believes will keep many African-Americans from voting this fall.  The other focus was new state laws cracking down on illegal immigration. FULL POST

Opinion: I am a book trafficker
The Tucson Unified School District says it hasn't banned books, but it does admit to boxing and moving seven titles.
March 12th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Opinion: I am a book trafficker

Editor’s Note: Tony Diaz is the Founder/Director of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say.  He is also the author of The Aztec Love God and a contributor to Mamiverse.com. On Monday, March 12, he begins his “librotraficante” journey from Houston, Texas to Tucson, Arizona.

By Tony Diaz, Special to CNN

(CNN) -The word “librotraficante” should not make sense in the U.S. Yet here it is 2012, and I find myself translating “book trafficker” into English.

But that’s what I do.

One of my first jobs as a child was to translate English into Spanish for my mother and father. I remember being in second grade and translating for my father as he bought a used car. I didn't like the way the salesman talked down to my father, and I didn't like the way he talked down to me– even though I was just a kid. However, I knew we needed the car, and I knew I needed to concentrate on finding just the right words to leave with that car.

I embraced education, books, reading and writing because I wanted the right words to use in any given situation. I knew words could solve most things. Words are powerful that way.

My parents were migrant workers in Texas until my father found a job with the railroad in Chicago. He worked hard to send me to school, and would tell me to study hard so I would not have to work hard like he did. He endowed me with the broad shoulders and the broader imagination it would take for me to flourish on the South Side of Chicago.

But even as I excelled in high school and college, there was still something missing. It seemed that no matter how much my parents worked, no matter, how much I struggled, we never moved on from that moment I experienced at the car lot, me in second grade, the system looking down on my dad and me.

I discovered what I was missing when I stumbled upon a memoir titled ‘Down These Mean Streets’ by the late Piri Thomas. I was a junior in college.

That book about growing up in Spanish Harlem changed my life in countless ways. How had I gone that long without reading a book by a Latino author? Easy. None were available to me- back then. I thought this had changed. It’s why I committed my life to writing.

I was wrong. Things haven’t changed. In Arizona, things have only gotten worse.


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Filed under: Education • Latino in America • What we think
Opinion: Why GOP could prompt women to vote for Obama
Maria Cardona says Repubilcans should cease their assault -- "whether real or perceived doesn’t really matter" --on women.
March 7th, 2012
02:48 PM ET

Opinion: Why GOP could prompt women to vote for Obama

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Much has been written about the GOP’s huge hole with Latino voters and how that will prevent them from reaching the White House.  In fact, a new poll of just Latino voters has no Republican presidential candidate polling above 14% against President Obama.  Dios mio!  As if that weren’t enough, the GOP is now busy with their shovels digging themselves another hole, this time with another incredibly important demographic – women.

We are talking about 53% of the electorate and an electorate made up of many independents who look at issues and candidates, not necessarily party identification.  President Obama won women in 2008, 56% to McCain’s 42%, a big reason he is in the White House today.  But even as recently as late last year, independent women were not supporting President Obama, a fact that was of great concern to the White House and a reason they kept focusing like a laser on economic issues and fixing policies they could influence like student loans, mortgage relief, and yes, implementing the Affordable Care Act regulation ensuring all women could have equal access to life saving health care services without paying out of pocket expenses.

For that, the Administration found itself in a maelstrom for several days.  The Catholic Church came down hard on the White House for believing their religious freedoms were being infringed upon by mandating they provide birth control to women who work at any of their affiliated facilities like universities or hospitals.  But because the Administration was focused on doing what is right, and not what is politically expedient, they went back to the drawing board and put forth a compromise that would not violate anyone’s religious freedoms while still ensuring all women had access to critical health care services.


March 7th, 2012
11:04 AM ET

Valedictorian facing deportation gets reprieve in Florida

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A Florida high school valedictorian and her sister who were facing deportation will instead meet Wednesday in Washington with Sen. Marco Rubio, after being granted a reprieve.

An immigration judge ruled last week that Daniela Pelaez, 18, and her sister Dayana were to be deported for being in the country illegally.

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement Tuesday gave the sisters a two-year reprieve. The decision was made under the policy of prosecutorial discretion, which is designed to prioritize deportation for illegal crossers with a criminal record, instead of those who pose little or no risk.

"The agency exercises prosecutorial discretion, on a case by case basis, as necessary to focus resources on our stated priorities," ICE spokesman Nestor Yglesias said in a statement Wednesday.


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Filed under: Age • Education • Immigration • Latino in America • Where we live
March 2nd, 2012
05:33 PM ET

Miami valedictorian fighting deportation

By John Couwels, CNN

(CNN) - An immigration judge has ruled two teenage girls, including a Miami high school valedictorian, are to be deported for being in the country illegally.

Daniela Pelaez, 18, and her sister Dayana came to the United States with their parents from Colombia 14 years ago and never left - overstaying their tourist visas.

A Miami immigration judge ruled this week that the two girls must be deported to Colombia, leaving the teenagers in shock.

"Education not deportation!" chanted fellow students Friday during a protest outside the North Miami Senior High School, where Pelaez is valedictorian.


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Filed under: Education • Immigration • Latino in America • Who we are
Opinion: Virginia wants to deny our family exists
Daniel Gri, right, and his husband James Abbott, left, are raising their two sons in Virginia.
February 27th, 2012
05:31 PM ET

Opinion: Virginia wants to deny our family exists

Editor’s Note: Daniel Gri and James Abbott have been a couple for more than 15 years. They had a religious commitment ceremony in 1999, and were legally married in California in 2008.  They are raising two sons, aged 14 and 12, in Virginia.

By Daniel Gri and James Abbott, Special to CNN

Our family lives in a state where our existence is about to be denied.

We certainly know who we are.  We are a loving couple raising two children. We are people of  faith. We are involved actively in conservative political causes.  And there’s no denying that friends, neighbors and even complete strangers can see who we are.  Like us or not, we’re two gay, middle-aged, white dads raising two adopted children who needed homes: one bi-racial teen and one black pre-teen.

But Virginia is now prepared to ignore us – and hundreds of loving couples like us who could provide loving and stable homes to thousands of unwanted children who are in need of homes, too.

In a few days, our state is expected to become only the second in the nation (North Dakota is the first) that will allow state-funded adoption agencies to deny us, and other qualified parents, the ability to foster or adopt children solely because of our sexual orientation.


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Filed under: Family • Politics • Relationships • Religion • Sexual orientation • What we think • Where we live
Opinion: Stop supporting buffoonery in the pulpit
Bishop Eddie Long holding an alleged Torah scroll. He was also wrapped in it and declared "king."
February 26th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Opinion: Stop supporting buffoonery in the pulpit

Editor’s Note: Rev. DeForest "Buster" Soaries is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey. He is a former Secretary of State of New Jersey, and was featured in "Almighty Debt: A Black in America Special.” 

By Rev. DeForest B. Soaries Jr., Special to CNN

(CNN) - When I was a child, if a crime were committed, my grandmother would say, “I hope he wasn’t colored.” Her concern was that all African-Americans suffered whenever one of us was caught doing something wrong. In those days black people raised their children to abstain from behavior that would give credence to the stereotypes that society had used to characterize us and justify the injustices heaped upon us. And most of us embraced that ethic.

Today I understand how my grandmother felt – not so much from a racial perspective but rather from a vocational perspective. As a member of the clergy, I am always hoping that an accused child molester or an embezzler from some community organization is not a member of the clergy. In 1982, the Gallup organization reported that 63% of people surveyed felt that clergy had high or very high honesty and ethical standards. This topped a list of various professions including lawyers (25%), members of Congress (15%) and car salespersons (6%). By 2011, Gallup reported that nurses topped the list of those believed to have high or very high levels of honesty and ethical standards with 84% believing they did. Lawyers dropped to 19%; members of Congress dropped to 7%.  Lobbyists and car salespersons were also at 7%.  And clergy dropped to 52%. That means that almost half of the people surveyed do not feel that members of the clergy are honest and have high ethical standards.

And I am not surprised. The inappropriate antics of many clergy could easily cause one to wonder if there are any moral standards for those who preach and teach morality. We are all too familiar with the flaws among some Catholic priests and their highly publicized breaches of trust and sexual indiscretions with children. But Protestants have our share of disgraces in the pulpit, too. Homosexual bashing pastor Ted Haggard left his giant church in 2007 following a gay sex scandal. He later admitted to GQ, "I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual." Prosperity preacher and television evangelist Robert Tilton was accused of throwing away prayer requests that he received from donors and television viewers without even reading them. And mega-church pastor Eddie Long settled lawsuits with four young males who accused him of coercing sex acts. It is time for a remedy within Protestant churches.


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Filed under: Black in America • Religion • What we think
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