Author:

Logan Sweeney

Abort Texas’ New Abortion Law

Under Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court found that states could not create onerous requirements which interfered with a patient’s right to an abortion up to the point of viability of the fetus, which was around 24 weeks. However, Texas’ new law erodes that decision. On May 9, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas’ new abortion law commonly known as the fetal “heartbeat” bill, and on September 1, 2021, the Supreme Court refused to block Texas’ “heartbeat” bill. The new law bans abortions as soon as cardiac motion can be detected in the embryo, roughly six weeks into a pregnancy.

The “heartbeat” bill contradicts the purpose of standing and adversely impacts not only the patients but people working in the medical field, families and friends of the patients, people who support a person’s right to choose, and society as a whole. Congress cannot continue to idly sit by. Congress must codify the principles of Roe v. Wade to protect an individual’s right to health care.

The United Nations Response to the Killings in Myanmar is Not Enough

On Saturday, March 27, 2021, as the Myanmar military celebrated the 76th annual Armed Forces Day with a parade, Myanmar police and soldiers killed dozens of citizens. Within the last two months, over 100 civilian pro-democracy protesters have been killed by the Myanmar military.

When the coup started in February, the United Nations (“UN”) condemned the junta. Since then, the UN has taken no action. The UN needs to interject and end the killing and violence against civilians. The UN Security Council or an emergency summit should deny recognition of the Myanmar military as a legitimate government, act to cut off the Myanmar military from funding and access to weapons, and then the International Criminal Court should investigate the killings of civilians.

COVID-19’s Gender Impact

As March starts and we enter Women’s History Month, Time Magazine, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNBC, The Washington Post, and more wrote articles on the unique and disproportionate effects that COVID-19 has had on women. However, by focusing exclusively on the effect of COVID-19 on women, we ignore the impacts faced by gender non-binary people. This approach leaves many people to continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, as economic impacts cannot be addressed and answered, if they are not first acknowledged.

The United States’ current systems and its response to COVID-19 has failed to serve many people, in fact, the pandemic has amplified existing economic and social inequalities. If we are to resolve these inequalities, instead of focusing on the disproportionate effects experienced by cis-gender women, the focus should shift towards marginalized people, such as, cis and transgender women, and non-binary individuals. This article takes a limited approach due to its length, and it focuses on the effects COVID-19 has had on women, and the transgender and non-binary community, where the United States needs to acknowledge the economic inequalities these people face and change the current systems. 

CPS’ Covid Priorities: 1) Punish Teachers and 2) Deny Students a FAPE

On November 17, 2020, Chicago Public School (“CPS”) announced that in January 2021, CPS would have its first week of in-person learning since March of 2020. Upon the announcement, CPS parents had mixed reactions to the district’s plan to bring some students back, where some expressed excitement about the positive effect of in-person learning on their kids social and mental health, while others like the Grassroots Education Movement voiced concerns that the district had not done enough to make schools COVID-19 safe.

The return to in-person learning has been controversial and filled with conflict between teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union (“CTU”) versus the district. CTU expressed that it does not trust the district to keep the teachers and students safe, and the CTU released a statement that 71 percent of its teachers voted to continue remote learning instruction. Even with these concerns, CPS made the return by teachers mandatory. During its first week in-person, over 150 educators have been AWOL, having not shown up to school. Since then, the teachers’ protest has only become louder. CPS responded by docking the pay and locking teachers out of their remote learning platforms. Intense debate surrounds the topic, but the underlying legal principle remains, CPS cannot deny students a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”), guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), while CPS engages in a labor dispute with the CTU.

The War on Drug (Prices)

Prescription medications are one of the most common forms of health care intervention, with approximately sixty-six percent (66%) of adults in the United States using prescription drugs. Prescription drugs can provide major benefits to an individual as well as the general population’s health; if successful, prescription drugs can lead to longer and higher-quality lives. However, as drug prices rise unnecessarily, nearly a fourth of American patients experience difficulty affording their medications. A majority of these patients are people with lower incomes and those who are nearing Medicare age.

The United States has higher drug prices than all other developed nations, where in 2010 the average post-rebate medication price was fifteen percent (15%) higher in the United States than in Canada, France, and Germany.  Domestic drug companies argue that the price is due to the cost of research and development, however it is the lack of market regulation by the United States government that allows these exorbitant prices. In response to the outcry against high drug prices, on September 13, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Lowering Drug Prices by Putting America First. The Order includes a “most favored nations” pricing scheme that includes both Medicare Parts B and D, meaning that Medicare now is able to refuse to pay more for drugs than other developed nations. However, this is not enough. The United States needs to take action at both the state and federal level to ensure that prescription drugs are accessible and affordable to all Americans.

How Will Stronger Internet Privacy and Election Laws Impact Facebook?

During his election campaign, President Trump hired Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm, to gain access to the private data of more than 50 million Facebook users. The data included users’ personal identities, friend networks, and “likes.” The election campaign and Cambridge Analytica team used users’ data to target political and digital ads, increase online fundraising, and reach out to and sway undecided voters.

In 2019, following intense public criticism and accusations of political bias and censorship, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, began advocating for the regulation of four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability. However, no legislation has been passed, no regulation has been implemented, and Zuckerberg has not offered support for any proposals. A blank promise with no action. Congress needs to work with countries around the globe in order to regulate Facebook as a public utility and ensure that hate speech and incitements of violence are not tolerated. 

Voting in the 2020 Election

Most United States citizens have certain expectations when they go to their polling station; voters expect to stand in a line, to be handed a ballot by an official, or to vote on a touch screen system. Yet, amid COVID-19, for many Americans, going to a polling station presents too many opportunities for the transmission of the virus. As a result of the danger of voting in-person and the desire to vote by mail, it is projected that the United States Postal Services (hereinafter “USPS”) will deliver an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots.