The Obama Mandate: End Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

Jodi Jacobson

Let's get rid of wasteful Washington spending. There's an easy way: zero out funding for abstinence-only programs in the next budget cycle.

Republicans these days are very, very deeply concerned about “wasteful
government spending.”  House Minority Leader John Boehner complained
about wasteful spending in the stimulus.  Congressman Mike Pence of
Indiana stated: “More big government spending…won’t cure what ails the
American economy.”  House Republican Whip Eric Kantor made the rounds
of the Sunday talk shows talking “waste, waste, waste.”  And now,
according to the New York Times, the National Republican Congressional
Committee is launching ads blasting House Democrats on the stimulus
bill, which it ridicules as “chockfull of wasteful Washington

You know what?  I agree.  Let’s get rid of that wasteful Washington spending.

And I have a concrete suggestion that will save over $200 million in
cold hard cash right away, plus billions of dollars in future
healthcare and related economic costs!

Sound too good to be true?  

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Really, it’s not a gimmick.  It’s very simple: We just need to zero out
funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the next budget

These programs don’t work to reduce sexual activity in teens, they
don’t work to reduce sexually transmitted infections and they don’t
work to reduce unintended pregnancies.

What is worse, they waste money both on the front end and the back end:
The failure of these programs to effectively contribute to preventing
unintended pregnancies and infections from the outset actually costs
more money in the long run.  In 2004, for example, teen childbearing in
the United States cost taxpayers at least $9.1 billion, never mind the
costs of sexually transmitted infections.  So by investing in
abstinence-only programs, taxpayers actually are losing billions at a
rapid clip.

So it’s easy.  Eliminate the funding; we all save money now and money later.  

Given the general concern about wasteful spending, the desire to ensure
the prudent investments of taxpayer funds in ways that yield positive
benefits, concerns about rising health care costs, and the
now-overwhelming evidence that abstinence-only programs don’t work, one
might assume it will be easy to reach bipartisan agreement that abstinence-only programs, like
the bridges to nowhere of the past,  should
just be cut.  No bickering, no posturing…pure and simple.  Should be

We will soon find out.

Given they control the White House and Congress, the ball actually
is in the Democrats’ court for now.  Several observers have suggested
it may be too late to remove funding for abstinence-only from the
Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 appropriations bill, which has yet to be passed
and which will likely be rolled into a giant omnibus bill to be dealt
with by Congress.  (Although given their concerns, perhaps the Republicans will offer an amendment to take it out?)

But President Obama is expected to release his first federal budget
request, for FY 2010, at the end of February, and the pressure is on to
eliminate ab-only funding in this next fiscal cycle.  A number of
leading advocacy groups, including Advocates for Youth and the
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US
(SIECUS) have
launched campaigns urging President Obama to do just that.  Both point to promises made by Obama during the campaign and
in his inaugural speech to put an end to these programs, and to ensure
evidence drives public policy.  (To take action see Advocates for Youth
here, and SIECUS here).

Candidate Obama, for example, “firmly oppose(d) federal funding for
abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.”  He also declared support for
“comprehensive sex education that is age-appropriate,” and asserted
that providing “science-based sex education in schools [is] the right
thing to do.”  As a Senator, he was a co-sponsor of the Responsible
Education About Life (REAL) Act, which would provide funding for
comprehensive, medically accurate sex education, and the Prevention
First Act which supports efforts to reduce unintended pregnancy and
increase access to contraceptive services and information.  Moreover,
during the transition, a Congressional liaison from the President-Elect’s transition team reportedly communicated
directly to congressional leaders Obama’s firm opposition to continued funding for abstinence-only
programs, expressing again his full support for comprehensive

Still, many advocates want Obama to make this crystal clear when he releases his budget and not, according to fears expressed by some, just give "broad guidance to Congress" as he did with the stimulus package.   They want the White House to make its priorities known.  James Wagoner,
President of Advocates for Youth, notes that:

“What President Obama does on
abstinence-only-until-marriage funding in his first budget will be the
flagship signal for young people regarding the President’s credibility
on reproductive and sexual health issues.  Obama was explicitly supportive of
comprehensive sex education and science-based approaches to public
policy during his campaign.  This budget must zero out abstinence-only
funding.  It simply has to go.”

The majority of Americans apparently agree with Wagoner and the
President on comprehensive programming.  According to a study by
researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, originally published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the majority of American
adults (80.4 percent) favor a balanced approach to sex education in
schools, regardless of their political leanings.  The survey gauged
strong support for teaching children about both abstinence and other
ways of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  And,
as Wagoner points out, support for the stimulus package proposed by the
President polled 20 points higher among 18 to 29 year olds then the
rest of the population, indicating the very high level of political support among
young adult voters for “doing the right thing.”

And here is where it gets a little complicated.

First of all, under the Bush Administration, funding for
abstinence-only-until-marriage programs rose
from $97.5 million in 2000
to $215 million in 2008.  The funding kept rising, even when Democrats
were in control of Congress, and even after numerous studies, including
a federally-funded evaluation conducted by Mathematica Policy Research
and published in April 2007, showed that these programs were
ineffective.  The Mathematica study reviewed four carefully selected
abstinence-only education programs, and showed that youth enrolled in
the programs were no more likely than those not in the programs to
delay sexual initiation, to have fewer sexual partners, or to abstain
entirely from sex.

Still, the programs retained strong support from powerful
organizations, like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
and from a wide array of conservative evangelical groups receiving
federal funds to promote abstinence-only.  As a result, some members of
Congress, including Congressman David Obey, Chair of the Appropriations
Committee, have been reluctant to cut such funding in the past.  Obey,
for one, comes from a heavily Catholic district near Milwaukee.  Absent a clear message from the White House that the days of abstinence-only are over, some fear that members like Obey may not remove this funding from the House appropriations bill. 

And if
the stimulus debacle was any indication, we can anticipate
that, despite their concern for waste in government, at least a few
Republican leaders will try to twist the debate on funding of
abstinence-only programs until the facts lay in tatters on the green
room floors of cable stations across the land.  If that happens, then other members, even Democrats, may feel pressured to
act against both the evidence and that ever-invoked "will of the
American people" just to mollify the loudest in the farthest right.

In high school, the extent of Max’s sexual health education was an abstinence-only program that succeeded only in alienating him by refusing to provide him, as a gay person and young person, with the information and tools for a healthy sex life. Watch part 2 of Max’s story.

Because of these complicated politics, nothing is guaranteed.  To
ensure the House does the right thing, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a strong
supporter of evidence-based programs, needs to use her leadership role
and make clear to her members from the outset that the goal is to end funding for these
programs once and for all. 

Second, there is no line item for comprehensive sexual health education
in the federal budget, and bills proactively supporting these programs
have yet to be passed.  Related programs also desperately need
additional funding.  According to Bill Smith, Vice President for Public Policy at SIECUS:

“The challenge is not just about getting rid of funding for abstinence-only programs, it’s also about fulfilling the committment to fund comprehensive sex education, increasing HIV prevention and Title X funding and about increased funding for the broader reproductive and sexual health services needed by people throughout this country.”

So to really fulfill his own mandate, Obama has to cut out money for programs that don’t work and proactively fund
programs that do work, and which people urgently need, like family
planning, sexual health education, HIV prevention and the rest. 

For now, however, abstinence-only remains a boondoggle and a dangerous
one at that.  Originally reported by Joe Sonka on Amplify, an Advocates
for Youth site, and then on Rewire, one such program
supported by $800,000 of your tax dollars pays a clown with dubious
credentials (ok, I admit I do not know the full curriculum at clown
school) to teach adolescents about "saving sex for marriage."  Great
for that first birthday party, but not so much for safer sex, unless he
teaches creative use of the balloons.  And even then I am not so sure. 
But clearly the content of this program was embarrassing enough that
once exposed, both the clown, and Elizabeth’s New Life Center, lucky
recipient of all these funds, removed information regarding the
program from their respective web sites.

And while the clown example may provide fodder for late-night
television comedy, other programs engage in dangerous reinforcement of
attitudes and behaviors that denigrate women, blacks, hispanics and homosexuals.  For example, another program
uncovered by Amplify
, again in Ohio, involved a video role-play of four
teens at a party, one of whom, a female, offers to drive her drunk
(male) friend home.  When he rapes her, the role-play blames her for
“putting herself in a risky situation” and for “having a reputation,”
suggesting her claims of rape are suspect.  So this program actually blames the victim for the rape,
and dismisses the guy’s behavior as a “boys will be boys” escapade. 
Apparently strength of conviction by the organization running this
program about the video dissipated as fast as you could say “blog
post,” because once again, the video got changed right after the
program was exposed.  Shows you what a little “transparency” might find.

Reinforcement of prejudicial attitudes, bias and discrimination based
on race and sexual identity also are rife within these programs, many
of which are subject to little if any oversight for content.  A report by
Legal Momentum
, for example, found that many federally funded
abstinence-only programs discourage condom use, distort reproductive
health information, and reinforce harmful gender stereotypes.  “Many
programs also perpetuate sexist and racist stereotypes about women of
color,” adds the report.  

One example is ’The Choice Game’ which:

"Has a ‘Midwest School version’ that features 95 percent
white students and an ‘urban school version,’ featuring ‘55%
African-American actors, 24% Hispanic actors and the remaining are
Caucasian.’  The urban version contains stereotypes of African-American
women as sexually aggressive and as drug users, and of African-American
men as likely to end up in jail.  In sharp contrast, the Midwest
materials depict white students working to maintain their ‘traditional

Reports by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union
reveal similar findings.  And a 2004 report by the House Committee
on Oversight and Government Reform
found that

“over 80% of the abstinence-only curricula, used by
over two-thirds of grantees [reviewed] in 2003, contain false,
misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.” 

In short, the programs reviewed by the Committee took an
industrial-size eraser to the line between separation of church and
state, relying on heavy does of prosyletizing and religious content to
get their ineffective messages across.

Finally, a report by Douglas Kirby, a Senior Research Scientist at ETR Associates conducted for the National Campaign to Reduce Teen Pregnancy stated that:

At present, there does not exist any strong evidence that
any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return
to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners. In addition,
there is strong evidence from multiple randomized trials demonstrating
that some abstinence programs chosen for evaluation because they were
believed to be promising actually had no impact on teen sexual
behavior. That is, they did not delay the initiation of sex, increase
the return to abstinence or decrease the number of sexual partners. At
the same time, they did not have a negative impact on the use of
condoms or other contraceptives.  Studies of abstinence programs have
not produced sufficient evidence to justify their widespread

What more do we need to know to avoid putting several hundred million more dollars through a giant shredder?

In this new era of citizen participation, accountability, and
respect for  evidence and human rights, it is up to us to ensure our elected officials get rid of this particular
barrel of pork.

"On one hand," says Marcela Howell, Vice President of Policy and Communications at Advocates for Youth, 

"We have a Democratic President who has
pledged to get rid of this spending.  We have a majority of Democrats
in Congress who have publicly stated opposition to this funding, and we
have a Republican party on the hunt for wasteful spending.  It seems like an easy decision.”

It should be easy.  But to be honest, given this situation, if we can’t mobilize enough grassroots strength to ensure the
President and Congress get rid of these funds, bring back the clown
because the joke is on us.

Culture & Conversation Media

Filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos Centers Abortion Stories in New Documentary

Renee Bracey Sherman

The film arrives at a time when personal stories are center stage in the national conversation about abortion, including in the most recent Supreme Court decision, and rightly so. The people who actually have and provide abortions should be driving the narrative, not misinformation and political rhetoric.

This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

A new film by producer and director Tracy Droz Tragos, Abortion: Stories Women Tell, profiles several Missouri residents who are forced to drive across the Mississippi River into Illinois for abortion care.

The 93-minute film features interviews with over 20 women who have had or are having abortions, most of whom are Missouri residents traveling to the Hope Clinic in Granite City, Illinois, which is located about 15 minutes from downtown St. Louis.

Like Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, Missouri has only one abortion clinic in the entire state.

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The women share their experiences, painting a more nuanced picture that shows why one in three women of reproductive age often seek abortion care in the United States.

The film arrives at a time when personal stories are center stage in the national conversation about abortion, including in the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, and rightly so. The people who actually have and provide abortions should be driving the narrative, not misinformation and political rhetoric. But while I commend recent efforts by filmmakers like Droz Tragos and others to center abortion stories in their projects, these creators still have far to go when it comes to presenting a truly diverse cadre of storytellers if they really want to shift the conversation around abortion and break down reproductive stigma.

In the wake of Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law, which was at the heart of the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt Supreme Court case, Droz Tragos, a Missouri native, said in a press statement she felt compelled to document how her home state has been eroding access to reproductive health care. In total, Droz Tragos interviewed 81 people with a spectrum of experiences to show viewers a fuller picture of the barriersincluding legislation and stigmathat affect people seeking abortion care.

Similar to HBO documentaries about abortion that have come before it—including 12th & Delaware and Abortion: Desperate ChoicesAbortion: Stories Women Tell involves short interviews with women who are having and have had abortions, conversations with the staff of the Hope Clinic about why they do the work they do, interviews with local anti-choice organizers, and footage of anti-choice protesters shouting at patients, along with beautiful shots of the Midwest landscape and the Mississippi River as patients make road trips to appointments. There are scenes of clinic escorts holding their ground as anti-choice protesters yell Bible passages and obscenities at them. One older clinic escort carries a copy of Living in the Crosshairs as a protester follows her to her car, shouting. The escort later shares her abortion story.

One of the main storytellers, Amie, is a white 30-year-old divorced mother of two living in Boonville, Missouri. She travels over 100 miles each way to the Hope Clinic, and the film chronicles her experience in getting an abortion and follow-up care. Almost two-thirds of people seeking abortions, like Amie, are already a parent. Amie says that the economic challenges of raising her other children make continuing the pregnancy nearly impossible. She describes being physically unable to carry a baby and work her 70 to 90 hours a week. Like many of the storytellers in the film, Amie talks about the internalized stigma she’s feeling, the lack of support she has from loved ones, and the fear of family members finding out. She’s resilient and determined; a powerful voice.

The film also follows Kathy, an anti-choice activist from Bloomfield, Missouri, who says she was “almost aborted,” and that she found her calling in the anti-choice movement when she noticed “Anne” in the middle of the name “Planned Parenthood.” Anne is Kathy’s middle name.

“OK Lord, are you telling me that I need to get in the middle of this?” she recalls thinking.

The filmmakers interview the staff of the Hope Clinic, including Dr. Erin King, a pregnant abortion provider who moved from Chicago to Granite City to provide care and who deals with the all-too-common protesting of her home and workplace. They speak to Barb, a talkative nurse who had an abortion 40 years earlier because her nursing school wouldn’t have let her finish her degree while she was pregnant. And Chi Chi, a security guard at the Hope Clinic who is shown talking back to the protesters judging patients as they walk into the clinic, also shares her abortion story later in the film. These stories remind us that people who have abortions are on the frontlines of this work, fighting to defend access to care.

To address the full spectrum of pregnancy experiences, the film also features the stories of a few who, for various reasons, placed their children for adoption or continued to parent. While the filmmakers interview Alexis, a pregnant Black high school student whose mother died when she was 8 years old, classmates can be heard in the distance tormenting her, asking if she’s on the MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant. She’s visibly distraught and crying, illustrating the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” conundrum women of color experiencing unintended pregnancy often face.

Te’Aundra, another young Black woman, shares her story of becoming pregnant just as she received a college basketball scholarship. She was forced to turn down the scholarship and sought an adoption, but the adoption agency refused to help her since the child’s father wouldn’t agree to it. She says she would have had an abortion if she could start over again.

While anti-choice rhetoric has conflated adoption as the automatic abortion alternative, research has shown that most seeking adoption are personally debating between adoption and parenting. This is illustrated in Janet’s story, a woman with a drug addiction who was raising one child with her partner, but wasn’t able to raise a second, so she sought an adoption. These stories are examples of the many societal systems failing those who choose adoption or students raising families, in addition to those fighting barriers to abortion access.

At times, the film feels repetitive and disjointed, but the stories are powerful. The range of experiences and reasons for having an abortion (or seeking adoption) bring to life the data points too often ignored by politicians and the media: everything from economic instability and fetal health, to domestic violence and desire to finish an education. The majority of abortion stories featured were shared by those who already had children. Their stories had a recurring theme of loneliness and lack of support from their loved ones and friends at a time when they needed it. Research has shown that 66 percent of people who have abortions tend to only tell 1.24 people about their experience, leaving them keeping a secret for fear of judgment and shame.

While many cite financial issues when paying for abortions or as the reason for not continuing the pregnancy, the film doesn’t go in depth about how the patients come to pay for their abortions—which is something my employer, the National Network for Abortion Funds (NNAF), directly addresses—or the systemic issues that created their financial situations.

However, it brings to light the hypocrisy of our nation, where the invisible hand of our society’s lack of respect for pregnant people and working parents can force people to make pregnancy decisions based on economic situations rather than a desire to be pregnant or parent.

“I’m not just doing this for me” is a common phrase when citing having an abortion for existing or future children.

Overall, the film is moving simply because abortion stories are moving, especially for audiences who don’t have the opportunity to have someone share their abortion story with them personally. I have been sharing my abortion story for five years and hearing someone share their story with me always feels like a gift. I heard parts of my own story in those shared; however, I felt underrepresented in this film that took place partly in my home state of Illinois. While people of color are present in the film in different capacities, a racial analysis around the issues covered in the film is non-existent.

Race is a huge factor when it comes to access to contraception and reproductive health care; over 60 percent of people who have abortions are people of color. Yet, it took 40 minutes for a person of color to share an abortion story. It seemed that five people of color’s abortion stories were shown out of the over 20 stories, but without actual demographic data, I cannot confirm how all the film’s storytellers identify racially. (HBO was not able to provide the demographic data of the storytellers featured in the film by press time.)

It’s true that racism mixed with sexism and abortion stigma make it more difficult for people of color to speak openly about their abortion stories, but continued lack of visual representation perpetuates that cycle. At a time when abortion storytellers themselves, like those of NNAF’s We Testify program, are trying to make more visible a multitude of identities based on race, sexuality, immigration status, ability, and economic status, it’s difficult to give a ringing endorsement of a film that minimizes our stories and relegates us to the second half of a film, or in the cases of some of these identities, nowhere at all. When will we become the central characters that reality and data show that we are?

In July, at the progressive conference Netroots Nation, the film was screened followed by an all-white panel discussion. I remember feeling frustrated at the time, both because of the lack of people of color on the panel and because I had planned on seeing the film before learning about a march led by activists from Hands Up United and the Organization for Black Struggle. There was a moment in which I felt like I had to choose between my Blackness and my abortion experience. I chose my Black womanhood and marched with local activists, who under the Black Lives Matter banner have centered intersectionality. My hope is that soon I won’t have to make these decisions in the fight for abortion rights; a fight where people of color are the backbone whether we’re featured prominently in films or not.

The film highlights the violent rhetoric anti-choice protesters use to demean those seeking abortions, but doesn’t dissect the deeply racist and abhorrent comments, often hurled at patients of color by older white protesters. These racist and sexist comments are what fuel much of the stigma that allows discriminatory laws, such as those banning so-called race- and sex-selective abortions, to flourish.

As I finished the documentary, I remembered a quote Chelsea, a white Christian woman who chose an abortion when her baby’s skull stopped developing above the eyes, said: “Knowing you’re not alone is the most important thing.”

In her case, her pastor supported her and her husband’s decision and prayed over them at the church. She seemed at peace with her decision to seek abortion because she had the support system she desired. Perhaps upon seeing the film, some will realize that all pregnancy decisions can be quite isolating and lonely, and we should show each other a bit more compassion when making them.

My hope is that the film reaches others who’ve had abortions and reminds them that they aren’t alone, whether they see themselves truly represented or not. That we who choose abortion are normal, loved, and supported. And that’s the main point of the film, isn’t it?

Abortion: Stories Women Tell is available in theaters in select cities and will be available on HBO in 2017.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Clinton Criticizes Trump’s Child-Care Proposal in Economic Speech

Ally Boguhn

Hillary Clinton may be wooing Republicans alienated by Trump, but she's also laying out economic policies that could shore up her progressive base. Meanwhile, Trump's comments about "Second Amendment people" stopping Hillary Clinton judicial appointments were roundly condemned.

Hillary Clinton may be courting Republicans, but that didn’t stop her from embracing progressive economic policies and criticizing her opponent’s child-care plan this week, and Donald Trump suggested there could be a way for “Second Amendment people” to deal with his rival’s judicial appointments should she be elected.

Clinton Blasts Trump’s Child-Care Proposal, Embraces Progressive Policies in Economic Speech

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton took aim at Republican nominee Donald Trump’s recently announced proposal to make the average cost of child care fully deductible during her own economic address Thursday in Michigan.

“We know that women are now the sole or primary breadwinner in a growing number of families. We know more Americans are cobbling together part-time work, or striking out on their own. So we have to make it easier to be good workers, good parents, and good caregivers, all at the same time,” Clinton said before pivoting to address her opponent’s plan. “That’s why I’ve set out a bold vision to make quality, affordable child care available to all Americans and limit costs to 10 percent of family income.”

“Previously, [Trump] dismissed concerns about child care,” Clinton told the crowd. “He said it was, quote, ‘not an expensive thing’ because you just need some blocks and some swings.”

“He would give wealthy families 30 or 40 cents on the dollar for their nannies, and little or nothing for millions of hard-working families trying to afford child care so they can get to work and keep the job,” she continued.

Trump’s child-care proposal has been criticized by economic and family policy experts who say his proposed deductions for the “average” cost of child care would do little to help low- and middle-wage earners and would instead advantage the wealthy. Though the details of his plan are slim, the Republican nominee’s campaign has claimed it would also allow “parents to exclude child care expenses from half of their payroll taxes.” Experts, however, told CNN doing so would be difficult to administer.

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Clinton provided a different way to cut family child-care costs: “I think instead we should expand the Child Tax Credit to provide real relief to tens of millions of working families struggling with the cost of raising children,” Clinton said in Michigan on Thursday. “The same families [Donald Trump’s] plan ignores.”

Clinton also voiced her support for several progressive policy positions in her speech, despite a recent push to feature notable Republicans who now support her in her campaign.

“In her first major economic address since her campaign began actively courting the Republicans turned off by Donald Trump, Clinton made no major pivot to the ideological center,” noted NBC News in a Thursday report on the speech. “Instead, Clinton reiterated several of the policy positions she adopted during her primary fight against Bernie Sanders, even while making a direct appeal to Independent voters and Republicans.”

Those positions included raising the minimum wage, opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, advocating for equal pay and paid family leave, and supporting a public health insurance option.

“Today’s speech shows that getting some Republicans to say Donald Trump is unfit to be president is not mutually exclusive with Clinton running on bold progressives ideas like debt-free college, expanding Social Security benefits and Wall Street reform,” said Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in a statement to NBC.

Donald Trump: Could “Second Amendment People” Stop Clinton Supreme Court Picks?

Donald Trump suggested that those who support gun ownership rights may be able to stop Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton from appointing judges to the Supreme Court should she be elected.

“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” Trump told a crowd of supporters during a Tuesday rally in Wilmington, North Carolina. “By the way … if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people—maybe there is. I don’t know.” 

Trump campaign spokesperson Jason Miller later criticized the “dishonest media” for reporting on Trump’s comments and glossed over any criticism of the candidate in a statement posted to the campaign’s website Tuesday. “It’s called the power of unification―Second Amendment people have amazing spirit and are tremendously unified, which gives them great political power,” said Miller. “And this year, they will be voting in record numbers, and it won’t be for Hillary Clinton, it will be for Donald Trump.”

“This is simple—what Trump is saying is dangerous,” said Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, in a statement responding to the Republican nominee’s suggestion. “A person seeking to be the President of the United States should not suggest violence in any way.”

Gun safety advocates and liberal groups swiftly denounced Trump’s comments as violent and inappropriate for a presidential candidate.

“This is just the latest example of Trump inciting violence at his rallies—and one that belies his fundamental misunderstanding of the Second Amendment, which should be an affront to the vast majority of responsible gun owners in America,” Erika Soto Lamb, chief communications officer of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a Tuesday statement. “He’s unfit to be president.”

Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, also said in a Tuesday press release, “There has been no shortage of inexcusable rhetoric from Trump, but suggesting gun violence is truly abhorrent. There is no place in our public discourse for this kind of statement, especially from someone seeking the nation’s highest office.”

Trump’s comments engaged in something called “stochastic terrorism,” according to David Cohen, an associate professor at the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, in a Tuesday article for Rolling Stone.

“Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication ‘to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable,’” said Cohen. “Stated differently: Trump puts out the dog whistle knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn’t know which dog.”

“Those of us who work against anti-abortion violence unfortunately know all about this,” Cohen continued, pointing to an article from Valerie Tarico in which she describes a similar pattern of violent rhetoric leading up to the murders that took place at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.

What Else We’re Reading

Though Trump has previously claimed he offered on-site child-care services for his employees, there is no record of such a program, the Associated Press reports.

History News Network attempted to track down how many historians support Trump. They only found five (besides Newt Gingrich).

In an article questioning whether Trump will energize the Latino voting bloc, Sergio Bustos and Nicholas Riccardi reported for the Associated Press: “Many Hispanic families have an immense personal stake in what happens on Election Day, but despite population numbers that should mean political power, Hispanics often can’t vote, aren’t registered to vote, or simply choose to sit out.”

A pair of physicians made the case for why Gov. Mike Pence “is radically anti-public health,” citing the Republican vice presidential candidate’s “policies on tobacco, women’s health and LGBTQ rights” in a blog for the Huffington Post.

Ivanka Trump has tried to act as a champion for woman-friendly workplace policies, but “the company that designs her clothing line, including the $157 sheath she wore during her [Republican National Convention] speech, does not offer workers a single day of paid maternity leave,” reported the Washington Post.

The chair of the American Nazi Party claimed a Trump presidency would be “a real opportunity” for white nationalists.

NPR analyzed how Clinton and Trump might take on the issue of campus sexual assault.

Rewire’s own editor in chief, Jodi Jacobson, explained in a Thursday commentary how Trump’s comments are just the latest example of Republicans’ use of violent rhetoric and intimidation in order to gain power.


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