Gajewski, Karen Ann, The Humanist
* The United States continues to impede efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS worldwide. It remains the only nation to explicitly ban federal funding of needle exchange programs, and now the Bush administration is demanding an "anti-prostitution pledge" of any foreign or U.S. organization that wants to receive anti-HIV/AIDS funding. Opponents of the pledge say it will make it nearly impossible to provide services or assistance to those most at risk of HIV/AIDS and it violates the freedom of speech for groups working with high-risk individuals.
* Access to abortion has taken some hits. Despite the United Nations' push for abortion to be decriminalized worldwide--particularly when a woman's health is in danger and in cases of rape and incest--Colombia instead increased its sentences for abortion from three years to four and a half. In Argentina, access to contraceptives and abortion is nearly impossible, and if a woman wants to be sterilized she must obtain her husband's consent, have already borne three children, and be older than thirty-five. And a new Florida law, in violation of the state constitution, requires doctors to notify parents forty-eight hours before performing an abortion on a minor.
* More than two dozen civil rights, religious, labor, and advocacy groups have urged the Department of Justice to block implementation of Georgia House Bill 244, arguing that it is discriminatory against minority voters. The new law requires photo I.D. and reduces acceptable forms of voter identification from seventeen to six. African Americans in Georgia are nearly five times less likely than whites to possess a drivers' license (one of the few approved IDs) and limited access to motor vehicle bureaus (one for every three counties) makes securing photo ID difficult.
* Another abuse of the Patriot Act occurred in June when the New York City suburb of Summit used the "anti-terrorism" law to force homeless people out of a local train station. Since its knee-jerk passage after 9/11, there have been numerous reports of the act being used to justify civil liberties violations--prompting hundreds of organizations and municipalities to pass referenda calling for its reform or repeal. …