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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Missouri law bars divorce during pregnancy – even in cases of violence | Missouri | The Guardian

(The United States is quickly moving back to it's primitive, 19th Century past)

Missouri law bars divorce during pregnancy – even in cases of violence

"The statute, which can lead to reproductive coercion in a state that has banned abortion, has recently gained nationwide attention

A close up image of a pregnant woman holding her stomach
Under a Missouri statute, those who are pregnant are barred from legally dissolving their marriage. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

At six months pregnant, H decided enough was enough. She had endured years of abuse from her husband and had recently discovered he was also physically violent towards her child. She contacted an attorney to help her get a divorce.

But she was stopped short. Her lawyer told her that she could not finalize a divorce in Missouri because she was pregnant. “I just absolutely felt defeated,” she said. H returned to the house she shared with her abuser, sleeping in her child’s room on the floor and continuing to face violence. On the night before she gave birth, she slept in the most secure room in the house: on the tile floor in the basement, with the family’s dogs.

Under a Missouri statute that has recently gained nationwide attention, every petitioner for divorce is required to disclose their pregnancy status. In practice, experts say, those who are pregnant are barred from legally dissolving their marriage. “The application [of the law] is an outright ban,” said Danielle Drake, attorney at Parks & Drake. When Drake learned her then husband was having an affair, her own divorce stalled because she was pregnant. Two other states have similar laws: Texas and Arkansas.

It took H three months after the birth of her second child to muster the finances and courage to file for divorce again. She believes that had she been able to obtain a divorce when she first tried, she would have been able to leave an abusive environment many months earlier.

The original intent of the statute in Missouri, which originated in 1973, was “noble”, Ashley Aune, a Democratic representative, said, as it tried to ensure that a mother and her child were provided for by settling custody arrangements and child support after the child’s birth.

But in practice, it has created barriers for pregnant people seeking divorce. The precise number of women the current statute affects is unknown – no entity collects this information. But the problem, Synergy Services, a non-profit that provides supportive services to people experiencing violence in Greater Kansas City, said they regularly receive requests for support from pregnant women unable to divorce abusive husbands because of the law.

Advocates warn the law can enable reproductive coercion, a term referring to behaviors that aim to control the course of another person’s reproductive autonomy. Common examples include forcing a person to continue or terminate a pregnancy, sabotaging their birth control or tracking their ovulation cycle.

When the abuse was ongoing, H says she would not have used the term to describe her experience. She does now. Her first child was six months old when she was raped by her former husband and became pregnant again. “I think he knew, in his mind, that it would keep me as his property,” H told the Guardian.

Aune recently introduced House bill 2402, which would give a family court judge more discretion to grant an expedited divorce in cases of pregnancy. “I want a judge to be able to look at that and say, ‘OK, you’re right. This is a situation where we need to close this divorce out,’” Aune said. The bill has yet to be brought to a vote.

Missouri is particularly restrictive when it comes to reproductive health and autonomy. It was one of the first to ban abortion after Roe v Wade was overturned in 2022, including in cases of rape and incest. Research shows that abortion restrictions can effectively give cover to reproductive coercion and sexual violence: the National Hotline for Domestic Violence said it saw a 99% increase in calls during the first year after the loss of the constitutional right to abortion.

Advocates are currently trying to gather enough signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would make abortion legal until fetal viability, or around 24 weeks.

In Missouri, homicide was the third leading cause of deaths in connection with pregnancy between 2018–2022, the majority (75%) of which occurred among Black women, according to a 2023 report by the Missouri department of health and senior services, which examines maternal mortality data. In every case, the perpetrator was a current or former partner. And in 2022, 23,252 individuals in the state received services after reporting domestic violence, according to the latest reporting from Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, which compiles data from direct service providers in the state.

“I don’t believe it is hyperbole when I say this legislation could literally save lives,” said Matthew Huffman, chief public affairs officer at Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, a state-wide membership association of domestic and sexual violence service providers.

Having “the agency and ability to have a divorce finalized puts you in a place where you can begin to regain control of your life”.

Missouri law bars divorce during pregnancy – even in cases of violence | Missouri | The Guardian

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