Accidentally Dodging the Question?

Elisabeth Garber-Paul

I did find Accidentally on Purpose on CBS, the story of Billie, (Jenna Elfman) a movie critic who has a fling with the young, handsome, unstable Zach (Jon Foster). She quickly becomes pregnant.

Finding myself home alone last Monday night, I decided to
take advantage of fall premiers week on the networks and spend the evening scanning the pilots for a potentially entertaining show.

No such luck. However, I did find Accidentally on Purpose on CBS, the story of Billie, (Jenna Elfman) a movie critic who has a fling with the young, handsome, unstable Zach (Jon Foster).  
She quickly becomes pregnant. They decide not to be together, but to raise the baby while living in the same home. He drinks beer and plays video games. She goes to premiers and dinner parties. Just as she loses her temper at his dude-bro antics, he goes ahead and redeems himself. They hug. Thank you, CBS.

Anyway, notice that I didn’t say she chooses to keep the baby.
What I mean is her options were never discussed. CBS, it seems, will air unprotected sex before abortion talk. Throughout the show I was waiting for them to bring it up-there were plenty of cougar jokes to fill the space-but the
credits started rolling before there was so much as a suggestion of any option other than baby.

So I was pleased to find an essay on Double X today by Mary Pals, the "real life" Billie, who reviews films for Time and MSN, and wrote a book called Accidentally on Purpose, on which this show is based.

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Apparently, she did contemplate having an abortion, but
because of the circumstance-her age-she thought it might be the last time she
could conceive.

"Sitcom-me is not as ancient as reality me, in part because Elfman is 37, about to turn 38. But I would also guess that 39 is an unappealing number for the networks…. And my sitcom lover is younger as well: only 22. What’s ironic about that age change is that if I had been 37 and had
drunken, unprotected sex with a 22 year-old like Zach, I would have taken the morning-after pill. I’m not saying that would have been the right choice, only that I needed to be at the brink of the 40-something cliff in order to jump off
it."

While I don’t know what it’s like to face an unplanned
pregnancy at 40-I’m only 22, myself-I do know the thought of having only one shot at motherhood must be daunting. It’s disappointing, though that someone thought it was necessary to throw that part out of the show. For a single woman with a consuming career in a large city to not have the thought cross her mind doesn’t seem plausible. But, as Pals later points out in her essay, there’s still a possibility it will come up. Lets just see if the show stays on long enough to discuss the option.

News Law and Policy

Pastors Fight Illinois’ Ban on ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’

Imani Gandy

Illinois is one of a handful of states that ban so-called gay conversion therapy. Lawmakers in four states—California, Oregon, Vermont, and New Jersey—along with Washington, D.C. have passed such bans.

A group of pastors filed a lawsuit last week arguing an Illinois law that bans mental health providers from engaging in so-called gay conversion therapy unconstitutionally infringes on rights to free speech and freedom of religion.

The Illinois legislature passed the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, which went into effect on January 1. The measure bans mental health providers from engaging in sexual orientation change efforts or so-called conversion therapy with a minor.

The pastors in their lawsuit argue the enactment of the law means they are “deprived of the right to further minister to those who seek their help.”

While the pastors do not qualify as mental health providers since they are neither licensed counselors nor social workers, the pastors allege that they may be liable for consumer fraud under Section 25 of the law, which states that “no person or entity” may advertise or otherwise offer “conversion therapy” services “in a manner that represents homosexuality as a mental disease, disorder, or illness.”

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The pastors’ lawsuit seeks an order from a federal court in Illinois exempting pastoral counseling from the law. The pastors believe that “the law should not apply to pastoral counseling which informs counselees that homosexuality conduct is a sin and disorder from God’s plan for humanity,” according to a press release issued by the pastors’ attorneys.

Illinois is one of a handful of states that ban gay “conversion therapy.” Lawmakers in four states—California, Oregon, Vermont, and New Jersey—along with Washington, D.C. have passed such bans. None have been struck down as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court this year declined to take up a case challenging New Jersey’s “gay conversion therapy” ban on First Amendment grounds.

The pastors say the Illinois law is different. The complaint alleges that the Illinois statute is broader than those like it in other states because the prohibitions in the law is not limited to licensed counselors, but also apply to “any person or entity in the conduct of any trade or commerce,” which they claim affects clergy.

The pastors allege that the law is not limited to counseling minors but “prohibits offering such counseling services to any person, regardless of age.”

Aside from demanding protection for their own rights, the group of pastors asked the court for an order “protecting the rights of counselees in their congregations and others to receive pastoral counseling and teaching on the matters of homosexuality.”

“We are most concerned about young people who are seeking the right to choose their own identity,” the pastors’ attorney, John W. Mauck, said in a statement.

“This is an essential human right. However, this law undermines the dignity and integrity of those who choose a different path for their lives than politicians and activists prefer,” he continued.

“Gay conversion therapy” bans have gained traction after Leelah Alcorn, a transgender teenager, committed suicide following her experience with so-called conversion therapy.

Before taking her own life, Alcorn posted on Reddit that her parents had refused her request to transition to a woman.

“The[y] would only let me see biased Christian therapists, who instead of listening to my feelings would try to change me into a straight male who loved God, and I would cry after every session because I felt like it was hopeless and there was no way I would ever become a girl,” she wrote of her experience with conversion therapy.

The American Psychological Association, along with a coalition of health advocacy groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, and the National Association of Social Workers, have condemned “gay conversion therapy” as potentially harmful to young people “because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder, and they often frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and moral failure.”

The White House in 2015 took a stance against so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth.

Attorneys for the State of Illinois have not yet responded to the pastors’ lawsuit.

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: The Fight Over Voter ID Laws Heats Up in the Courts

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Texas and North Carolina both have cases that could bring the constitutionality of Voter ID laws back before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this term.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the state’s voter ID law.

Meanwhile, according to Politifact, North Carolina attorney general and gubernatorial challenger Roy Cooper is actually saving taxpayers money by refusing to appeal the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on the state’s voter ID law, so Gov. Pat McCrory (R) should stop complaining about it.

And in other North Carolina news, Ian Millhiser writes that the state has hired high-powered conservative attorney Paul Clement to defend its indefensible voter ID law.

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Alex Thompson writes in Vice that the Zika virus is about to hit states with the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. So if you’re pregnant, stay away. No one has yet offered advice for those pregnant people who can’t leave Zika-prone areas.

Robin Marty writes on Care2 about Americans United for Life’s (AUL) latest Mad Lib-style model bill, the “National Abortion Data Reporting Law.” Attacking abortion rights: It’s what AUL does.

The Washington Post profiled Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Given this Congress, that will likely spur another round of hearings. (It did get a response from Richards herself.)

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson writes in Bloomberg BNA that Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan thinks the Supreme Court’s clarification of the undue burden standard in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will have ramifications for voting rights cases.

This must-read New York Times piece reminds us that we still have a long way to go in accommodating breastfeeding parents on the job.

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