This essay intends to discuss the constitutionality of abortion from purely legal perspective. It is written in a “cold-hearted” fashion, and it gradually guides one to understand the issue of abortion as a point in motion along the axis of history of constitutional law. I led the legal discussion is detached of religion, moral, and feelings, because I deemed law as the most effective and practical tool to settle this controversy. I have faith that the legal system has already (or eventually will have) devised several fair  tests and doctrines to humanely and respectably determine and instruct the court’s decisions in future abortion cases.

       The right to abortion was never explicated stated or implied in any part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. This is not queer at all, for the Constitution was not meant to be too specific. Instead, it was designed broad enough to become the “supreme law of the land” – to guide states and locals to establish their own specific laws and regulations as they see fit under the principle of “separation of power” between federal government and state sovereignty.

       Because of this “state sovereignty” claim, the Supreme Court used to be deferential to each state for establishing its own statutes regarding to abortion. The practice of abortion didn’t emerge as a relatively urgent controversy back then, not only because of the indoctrination of conservative values and religion through generations, but also because of the poor success rate of such “fatal” practices under primitive medical conditions. Because the practice of abortion usually resulted in the loss of both lives of the mother and the fetus, few people risked receiving abortion, and even fewer people considered this perilous practice as a “right” - a privilege entitled to individuals to guard their interests from government's intervention.

       With evolving standards of both medical knowledge and social decency, a landmark case rose to the Supreme Court and caught national attention in 1973. The case was later known as Roe v. Wade, for the woman (used “Roe” as her name) who was forced to seek illegal abortion (because the state of Texas outlawed abortion) sued the state of Texas (defended by County District Attorney Henry Wade). The following is an excerpt of case fact citing from Wikipedia:

       “In June 1969, Norma L. McCorvey discovered she was pregnant with her third child. She returned to Dallas, where friends advised her to assert falsely that she had been raped, as she could then obtain a legal abortion (with the understanding that Texas' anti-abortion laws allowed abortion in the cases of rape and incest). However, this scheme failed, as there was no police report documenting the alleged rape. She attempted to obtain an illegal abortion, but found the unauthorized site shuttered, closed down by the police.”

       The Supreme Court's ruling on this case did not come out of nowhere. Abortion is considered as part of “right to privacy” pertaining to, specifically in this abortion case, the right of women to have a control over her body, including the most important aspect, her pregnancy. The trick is that the so called “right to privacy” did not originally exist, and strict constructionists have been criticizing the court’s aggressive interpretation of reinvention of law ever since.

       Despite controversies and complaints from interest groups (especially state power proponents and pro - life activists), the “right to privacy” was formally recognized as an important legal doctrine and precedent in Griswold v. Connecticut “ that such rights are firmly found in the ‘penumbras’ and ‘emanations’ of other constitutional rights.”

       With the “right to privacy” firmly established, the court ruled over time many cases that involves the individual’s constitutional claim of protection against governmental prosecution of their private choices, such as the abortion in Roe v. Wade.

       Indeed, the fight in Roe v. Wade centered on whether a fetus is considered a human who deserves the full protection of the basic right to life. Although the majority opinion retreated from granting women full rights of abortion by adopting the trimester system, the “right of privacy” was confirmed and the incorporation of abortion into the right of privacy is one step forward in the continuous feminism endeavor for true social, cultural, and political equity.

       To the comfort of many feminists who did not live to see further victories in their cause, the Supreme Court almost consistently ruled in the later cases in favor of women’s right to abortion. The rulings' guidance and influence in the judicial system is so overwhelming, that almost all states nowadays are allowing and aiding women to acquire abortion and regulating to ensure the clean and safe operation to effectively preserve the “right to privacy.” 

Hongru Xu
Flying across the screen were words “remarkable, incredible, and brilliant” in many articles describing Secretary of State Clinton’s speech the other day on the treatment of homosexuals in foreign nations. When I heard this speech I was in shock, in the most positive way possible. I couldn’t believe it. Neither could most of the United States.

On Wednesday, Hilary Clinton made a speech on LGBT rights in Geneva to the United Nations Human Rights Council. She noted that foreign aid given to other countries by the United States would be analyzed partially based on the country’s reatment of gays and lesbians. Many lesbian and gays were in tears while watching the speech, and felt a glimpse of hope. To watch Clinton’s speech, visit

“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons aaroudn the world,” Obama said. “Whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations or killing men, women and children for their perceived sexual orientation.” According to Clinton, a program that offers support for LGBT people was created, and each embassy will receive a toolkit in the coming months to make sure that LGBT people are justly treated.

Responses to the speech include increasing support for the Obama Administration. One support of Obama said that his donation to his campaign” just added on another zero.” In addition, LGBT human rights defenders across the world were moved by Clinton’s message, and inspired by the movement to instill human equality and justice for lesbians and gays.

Watching the speech myself, I was extremely moved. Clinton made such extremely important points, discrimination against gays and lesbians in the world is just as unjust as discrimination due to race, sex, etc. I believe the world will be a more just place after that speech, and foreign nations must change their views on gays and lesbians if they ever expect help from the United States again.  

Just a week ago was the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion (if you didn’t catch the show, take a look), known for its extravagant lingerie, huge angel wings and of course, beautiful models. But when it comes down to it, “let’s be honest, it’s not about the underwear. It’s about the models” (CNN’s Alina Cho).

Girls around the country looked at the ultra-skinny models’ bodies, looked at their own and felt disappointed, disgusted, and insecure. My own Facebook page was filled with statuses like, “Wow, I need to go work out” and “Uch, I am never eating again.” I appreciate that many girls were joking when they made those statuses, yet, I doubt that they didn’t feel at least some of what they wrote. These girls had a new and vivid image of what they should look like. And of course, some girls will strive to look like that, no matter what it takes.

The question for many people then, is how did they get those bodies? How do they look like that?

There is a lot of controversy and debate about the eating and exercise habits of the models; some argue that they devote a lot of time to exercise and do eat well, while others argue that there is no way they can look like that and be healthy, too. This year, one model slipped that “She indulges in ‘no solids’ for those [9] days, and then, for 12 hours before the show, ‘No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that,’ Lima, 30, told the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph” Days later, after the damage of this statement had already been done, she said, “Those teenagers out there, don't go starving yourself or only drinking liquids. Don't do that please.” Lima’s response reveals that she knows the consequences of her statement and though her plea to teenagers may be heartfelt, she cannot undo what she already said. Some teenagers will try to replicate her habits and will get sick because of it.

Although Lima did admit some unhealthy eating habits, many other models (and their fans) argue that the models, in general, are truly healthy. I would like to argue one more point: even if the models do eat well and live healthy lives, the girls who see them and strive to look like them will most likely utilize poor and perhaps dangerous eating habits to obtain the same result. Whether or not the Victoria’s Secret angels are healthy, and whether or not Victoria’s Secret intends to project a strict and homogeneous image of beauty, the consequences of the fashion show are frightening and worrisome for girls. I do not have a brilliant idea to end the entire industry’s definition of beauty, but I do not think that the industry should be abdicated from the hurt and anxiety it causes girls and women.

And ladies, please don’t ‘forget’ to eat today.

By Miriam Thorne

Look at this hunk of a man Dean Martin. Yeah, he's your culprit.
Since it's December, Christmas music is playing on the radio all the time. One of the songs I hear all the time is called ”Baby It's Cold Outside” by Frank Loesser. Check out the Dean Martin version, which seems to be played the most.
Let me sum up why the song is is memorable:
  • It has harmonies between a male and female singer.
  • It was written 75 years ago, and I hear it every year.
  • It is entirely about a man trying to keep a woman from leaving.
The last point bugs me the most. While the song does not specifically state that sexual assault is occurring (some people think it is), the lyrics imply foul behavior. Here are some statistics from the song:
  • The woman says that she needs to leave nine times.
  • The woman gives six reasons why she needs to leave.
  • The man changes the subject twelve times.
I'm not particularly conservative, but the song may send the wrong signals. One response is particularly bad. The woman asks, “say what's in this drink,” and the man replies, “no cabs to be had out there.” From that response, it seems like the man is trying to get the woman drunk or drugged.

Whenever I listen to this song, I wonder how many cases of sexual assault occur after a scenario similar to that in the song. When a woman says no multiple times (even in jest), but finally agrees, is that considered rape? Does the continuous questioning count as coercion? My intuition leads me to believe that the answer is no, since consent is given and at the end of the day, any happenings are conducted willfully between both partners.

What do you think?

by Kevin Teng

The Twilight saga recently released its latest movie, Breaking Dawn.  I must admit I read the books, but haven’t seen the movies. I want to see the most recent for Bella’s birthing process; it involves Edward ripping open her uterus with his teeth and then sucking a lot of her blood. Not exactly PG-13. 

But in all seriousness, the Twilight saga has come under a lot of fire.  The messages it presents for women are not the best, but it does occasionally contrast media portrayal of gender roles:

·      A male vampire is sparkly- whoa! That’s like feminine! But it does provide a different view of masculinity, showing men can be feminine and still be heterosexual

·      Waiting to have sex until marriage- but I thought everyone was having sex all the time! Guess not everything the media shows me is right

·      But, Bella has to have a boy to make her life worthwhile, so much for powerful heroines

·      She gets preggers!! That makes sense, there was no sexual education in the movie, so clearly Edward had no idea how to use a condom, and Bella received abstinence-only education

·      The family intervenes, and Bella is entirely dependent on them. Sounds a lot like the life of a teenage mother

Overall the Twilight saga does very little to fight media portrayals of well, anything.  But it does tap into a new audience previously ignored, tween and teen girls.  And the message may not be great, but I must commend Stephanie Meyer for recognizing young girls as a legitimate audience rather than making another action and super hero heavy movie for the ever-popular teen male audience.

--Emily Schwab