Dershowitz: The Age of Consent Must Be Lowered, ‘Statutory Rape Is An Outdated Concept’

Alan Dershowitz, who stands accused of having sex with multiple alleged Jeffrey Epstein victims, says “statutory rape is an outdated concept” and there should be “Romeo and Juliet exceptions” to statutory rape law.

The age of consent should be lowered to as young as 14 because “voluntary sex is so common in their age group“, according to Dershowitz who published an op-ed titled “Statutory Rape Is An Outdated Concept” in the late 90s.

Years later, Dershowitz defended the column on Twitter, at an awkward time: Dershowitz was a member of the team that got convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein a plea deal that sent him to prison for 18 months in 2007, a sentence that was described as “the deal of the century” amid claims he should have received a much longer sentence.

This raises a fundamental question about the continuing legitimacy of statutory rape laws at a time when sex involving teenagers is so rampant and prosecution for statutory rape so selective,” Dershowitz wrote in the op-ed. 

It is obvious that there must be criminal sanctions against sex with very young children, but it is doubtful whether such sanctions should apply to teenagers above the age of puberty, since voluntary sex is so common in their age group.

Dershowitz then suggests that the age of consent should be lowered to 15, or perhaps even 14. Facing a barrage of criticism — for his handling of the Epstein plea deal, for the allegations against him and now for this column — Dershowitz has remained unapologetic. 

He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last year that “I have no misgivings and I will continue to represent controversial people. That’s what I do. If I’m in a case, my job is to get the best possible result.

He similarly defended the controversial 1997 op-ed in a series of tweets. 

According to Dershowitz, there should be “Romeo and Juliet exceptions” to statutory rape.

I stand by the constitutional (not moral) argument I offered in my controversial oped,” he wrote. “[I]f a 16 year old has the constitutional right to have an abortion without state or parental interference, how could she not have the constitutional right to engage in consensual sex? … I did not suggest that it is moral to have sex with a 16 year old, but rather that the issue presents a constitutional conundrum worthy of discussion.”

Dershowitz, a prominent defense lawyer and emeritus Harvard University law professor, is now facing accusations of sexual abuse from two of Epstein’s alleged victims — Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Sarah Ransome. He denies the accusations against him.

No jail time for Bay Area woman accused of trying to drown baby in McDonald’s toilet

920x920Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office / / San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

 

A Redwood City woman accused of trying to drown a baby she had given birth to in a McDonald’s restroom will not serve time in prison, court documents show.

On Friday, Sarah Jane Lockner, 27, was placed on four years supervised probation and one year in county jail with credit for time served. She was also ordered to complete parenting classes.

Lockner took a plea deal in January after prosecutors initially charged her with attempted murder. She instead pleaded no contest to felony child endangerment.

Lockner was employed as a cashier at a McDonald’s in Redwood City and working her shift when, on Sept. 4, 2017, she went to the bathroom multiple times and complained of stomach pains, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

When coworkers noticed Lockner trailing blood, she said it was because of a heavy period.

A coworker later went to check on Lockner in the bathroom and looked over the stall, where she allegedly saw a newborn baby facedown in the toilet bowl and Lockner’s hand on the child’s back, prosecutors said.

The coworker called police who arrived to find a baby boy that had no pulse and was not breathing, the county district attorney’s office said. The child survived and is currently living with his father’s aunt and has met his milestones, the Mercury News reported.

Prosecutors said Lockner gave birth to another child at home five years earlier. Lockner reportedly said she did not know she was pregnant before either of her two births.

 

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Texas bill would allow death penalty for women who get abortion

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The Republican lawmaker behind a controversial bill — which could make it legal to charge women and providers with murder for an abortion — defended the proposal by saying completely removing access to the procedure would “force” women to be “more personally responsible” with sex.

State Representative Tony Tinderholt, of Arlington, said in an interview with the Observer that, if passed, the bill would reduce the number of pregnancies “when they know that there’s repercussions.”

“Right now, it’s real easy. Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child,” Tinderholt said.

House Bill 948 would ban and criminalize abortions at any stage, direct state officials to ignore “any conflicting federal” laws, and would no longer exempt pregnancies as a result of rape, incest or fetal abnormalities. The bill would remove the exception for abortion in the state’s penal code for criminal homicide, meaning that women and providers could face charges as serious as murder for the procedure.

State Representative Donna Howard, D-Austin, said the procedure is a decision “that should not be made by someone who has no clue what’s going on.”

“That is so ignorant to think… that women are somehow irresponsibly deciding that they’re going to go ahead and get pregnant because it’s so easy to get an abortion,” said Howard. “… And for the Legislature to insert themselves in these decisions… it’s just baffling to me that he could have that lack of compassion and understanding for fellow Texans.”

When asked why the bill makes no exception for rape or incest, Tinderholt said he’s “a firm believer that God creates children in his own image, regardless of how that child is brought into the world, it’s created in his image, and how can someone want to destroy that?”

“I don’t think that there should be any exceptions to murder, no matter what. So, if this child was out of the womb and it was a child that was born out of rape or incest, no one would be OK with killing a child. I look at it like that child is a child in the womb, just like it’s out,” he said.

Since filing the bill last week, Tinderholt said he and his family have received death threats and that officers from the Department of Public Safety had been posted outside his home for at least four days. DPS spokesperson Tom Vinger declined to comment, saying the agency doesn’t discuss personal security matters.

While the likelihood of the bill’s passage remains to be seen, it sends a clear message that the Texas GOP will continue to invade women’s constitutional right to privacy beyond what is allowed under federal law.

The Republican Party of Texas declared “abolishing abortion by enacting legislation to stop the murder of unborn children” as a priority for the legislative session, but Sanford Levinson, a University of Texas Law professor, said last week “there is simply no doubt whatsoever that it is unconstitutional under current law.”

In June, Texas’ HB 2, one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, was partially struck down when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that additional hurdles, such as requiring abortion facilities to meet hospital-like standards and doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, placed an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion. The University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project published reports confirming that women seeking abortion services in Texas after HB 2 were forced to travel farther at higher out-of-pocket costs, and that a decline in abortions between 2012 and 2014 is associated with greater travel distances to clinics after the majority of abortion facilities in Texas were shuttered.

Howard has proposed measures this session regarding contraception including House Bill 941, a pilot program that would distribute contraceptives in participating public school districts with parental consent for students under 18. She and state Senator Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, also plan to file a resolution on Tuesday declaring that “abortion is healthcare and should be treated as such.”

Blake Rocap, legislative counsel for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said Tinderholt’s proposal would “take us back to a time in Texas when women lost their lives because they were trying to procure illegal abortions.”

“These sort of bills come from a worldview that completely discounts people’s agency and autonomy to make a decision in a responsible way,” he said.

Though pro-choice advocates say that the bill would effectively ban abortion, Tinderholt denies that it does so.

“I’m not saying, I’ve never said, and the bill doesn’t say that abortion will be abolished and illegal,” he said. “We call it that bill, but the bottom line is this: we’re just changing criminal penal code and statutes.”

The bill is titled the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act.

 

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AOC threatens to put moderate Democrats ‘on a list’ to be unseated

1-aoc.w700.h467.2xPelosi and AOC both want Dems to fall in line, but used different tactics. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

 

Earlier this week the Democrats now running the House of Representatives strutted their stuff with passage of a bill aiming at the ancient liberal target of the gun background check “loophole” for private sales. It was passed by a 240-190 margin on what was basically a party-line vote. But before that vote, Republicans offered an unexpected “motion to recommit” the bill to add language instructing law enforcement officials to notify ICE if an “illegal immigrant” attempted to buy a gun. Twenty-six Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of that motion, and embarrassed House leaders added the language as an amendment to keep the bill from dying then and there.

Subsequently House Democrats met to discuss the incident (the second successful MTR maneuver by Republicans in the brief period since Nancy Pelosi took the gavel), amid some talk of amending the House rules either to eliminate MTRs or provide members with more time to consider them. But according to the Washington Post, recriminations broke out between members angry at the defections on the ICE vote, and defectors angry that Democrats from safer districts weren’t sufficiently sensitive to their political needs.

In a closed-door session, a frustrated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at about two dozen moderates and pressured them to get on board. “We are either a team or we’re not, and we have to make that decision,” Pelosi said, according to two people present but not authorized to discuss the remarks publicly.

Pelosi, according to the Post, focused much of her frustration on congressional veterans. But interestingly enough, the conflict was exemplified by an unhappy exchange between two House freshman from very different political environments:

[Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.

Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, said she told her colleagues that Democrats who side with Republicans “are putting themselves on a list.”

… Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (N.M.) — reacted sharply to Ocasio-Cortez’s comments and rose to urge her colleagues to respect the political reality of representing a swing district, according to multiple people present.

Ocasio-Cortez, of course, unseated a top member of the House Democratic leadership in a primary; her district is not competitive in general elections. Torres Small won one of the closest general election contests in the country.

But this wasn’t just a standard-brand left-versus-center ideological clash. AOC made a rather important counterpoint about the quandary the Republican amendment placed her and like-minded Democrats in, according to her spokesman Corbin Trent:

“She said that when activists ask her why she had to vote for a gun safety bill that also further empowers an agency that forcibly injects kids with psychotropic drugs, they’re going to want a list of names and she’s going to give it to them,” Trent said, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Post interpreted this reference to a “list” as a threat to support primary challenges to the moderates. Whether or not that’s what AOC intended, there’s no question some of her House colleagues fear that she’ll help do to them what she did to Joe Crowley in her own insurgent primary challenge last year. And it infuriates those in swing districts that they might have to fight a two-front war to win reelection.

These tensions create some serious problems for Nancy Pelosi, who must cater to every faction in her caucus. One option for her is simply to impose party discipline and insist moderates bite the bullet on cleverly designed Republican poison-pill amendments. As she and others pointed out in the caucus meeting, Republicans managed to vote down similar Democratic gambits routinely when they controlled the House, adopting a “just say no” party line on all procedural motions from the other side of the aisle.

Alternatively, Pelosi may have to rethink how much value there really is for her caucus and party in “messaging” bills like the gun measure, which is about as likely to be considered in the Republican-controlled Senate as a bill to double Planned Parenthood’s funding. A symbolic gesture toward an important if presently unachievable goal like better gun regulation is a lot more effective if Democrats can agree in advance not to let themselves get distracted by Republican hijinks. The last thing they need is a public “struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party,” with media hounds eagerly feeding on every morsel of conflict.

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Virginia Bill Would Legalize Abortion Up to Birth!!

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Democratic delegate Kathy Tran has introduced a bill in Virginia’s House of Delegates that would legalize abortion up to birth. When questioned about the bill today by Republican delegate Todd Gilbert, the Virginia House majority leader, Tran acknowledged that it would allow abortion even at the very end of pregnancy when a woman was going into labor.

The bill is called the Repeal Act because it would remove all existing restrictions on abortion in Virginia. That includes permitting abortion in the last three months of pregnancy, eliminating informed-consent and clinic-safety requirements, permitting late-term abortions to be performed in outpatient clinics, and removing pro-life initiatives such as ultrasound requirements and the state’s 24-hour waiting period. It has the backing of Virginia’s Democratic governor Ralph Northam.

Here’s part of their back-and-forth during questioning:

Gilbert: So how late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?

Tran: Or physical health.

Gilbert: Okay. I’m talking about mental health.

Tran: I mean, through the third trimester. The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.

Gilbert: So to the end of the third trimester?

Tran: Yes. I don’t think we have a limit in the bill.

Gilbert: So where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth, she has physical signs that she’s about give birth, would that still be a point at which she could still request an abortion if she was so certified? [pause] She’s dilating?

Tran: Mr. Chairman, you know, that would be a decision that the doctor, the physician, and the woman would make.

Gilbert: I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.

Tran: My bill would allow that, yes.

NY Gov. Cuomo refuses to sign state budget until lawmakers approve bill legalizing abortion for any reason until birth!!

Hillary Clinton was alongside the governor when he delivered a pro-abortion speech earlier this week.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has refused to sign the state’s 2019-20 budget until lawmakers approve a bill that would make it legal to have an abortion for any reason up until birth, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported.

On Monday, Cuomo delivered a pro-abortion speech at Barnard College in Manhattan, where he vowed not to support the budget until the Legislature passes the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act. Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state and presidential candidate, stood alongside the governor at the event.

The 61-year-old Democrat also vowed during his speech to push an amendment to enshrine abortion in the state constitution. Cuomo first called for the constitutional amendment last year.

What does the Reproductive Health Act say?

Currently, only licensed physicians are allowed to perform an abortion, and only up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

“Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child or have an abortion,” the Reproductive Health Act reads.

If approved, any licensed health care provider acting in “good faith” would be able to perform an abortion at any time up until birth.

Abortion would also be removed as a crime from the state’s penal code.

The bill has passed the Democrat-controlled assembly in the past, according to the Rochester Democrat. However, it stalled in the Republican-led Senate for more than a decade.

Democrats gained Senate majority after the 2018 midterm elections.

“This is only the beginning of the protections that we will have for our women, for our environment, criminal-justice reform, education — the list goes on,” state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Monday, according to the report. “But in January, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we will make our statement, we will make our mark.”

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Stewart-Cousins first sponsored the Reproductive Health Act in 2007.

What about enshrining abortion in the NY Constitution?

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has a conservative majority, some pro-abortion lawmakers and activists fear Roe v. Wade could someday be overturned.

The bill to enshrine federal abortion rights would require a separate vote and approval by the Legislature to start the amendment process. The 2021 Legislature would also have to approve it before it could be sent to voters, who would have to pass the measure before it would become law.

What did Clinton say?

Clinton praised the governor for pushing for abortion protections, describing him as a “lifelong champion of these rights,” according to the Rochester Democrat.

“New York led the rest of the country even before Roe v. Wade in making abortion legal,” Clinton said during her speech.

“But the struggle for women’s equality is not something simply to be read about in the pages of your history books,” Clinton said. “It continues to be the fight of our lifetime.”

What about pro-life activists?

The Reproductive Health Act would remove protections for women if criminal penalties are removed for illegal abortions.

“A real concern is that if you take abortion out of the criminal code, what happens in instances of domestic violence where men abuse the women they are sharing living spaces with,” Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, told the Rochester Democrat.

“And we know there are heightened instances of domestic violence cases during pregnancy.”

Feminists Choosing Life of New York described the bill as”opposite of pro-woman,” in a statement.

FCNLY denounced the legislation in six letters it submitted to the New York Times in response to “A Woman’s Rights,” an op-ed published Dec. 28.

“One point of opposition is the heinous legalization of abortion during the second and third trimester of pregnancy through the inclusion of a broad health exception allowing women to abort viable fetuses for essentially any reason; including economic or familial health,” Kelly Brunacini, a member of the group’s board of directors, wrote in one of the letters posted on FCNLY’s website.

“The vast majority of Americans, including in New York, oppose these late-term abortions. As a New Yorker, Democrat and feminist, I can’t help but wonder what history will say about a people who allowed the legalized killing of fully formed human beings for the sake of exerting political dominance.”

The group’s letters have gone unpublished, according to FCNLY.

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Abortion Leading Cause of Death in 2018 with 41 Million Killed

Abortion was the number one cause of death worldwide in 2018, with more than 41 million children killed before birth, Worldometers reports.

As of December 31, 2018, there have been some 41.9 million abortions performed in the course of the year, Worldometers revealed. By contrast, 8.2 million people died from cancer in 2018, 5 million from smoking, and 1.7 million died of HIV/AIDS.

Worldometers — voted one of the best free reference websites by the American Library Association (ALA) — keeps a running tally through the year of major world statistics, including population, births, deaths, automobiles produced, books published, and CO2 emissions.

It also records the total number of abortions in the world, based on the latest statistics on abortions published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Globally, just under a quarter of all pregnancies (23 percent) were ended by abortion in 2018, and for every 33 live births, ten infants were aborted.

There were more deaths from abortion in 2018 than all deaths from cancer, malaria, HIV/AIDS, smoking, alcohol, and traffic accidents combined.

The staggering number of deaths from abortion, in fact, has led certain observers to call abortion “the social justice cause of our time,” since judging from the sheer magnitude of the problem other human rights issues pale in comparison.

The year 2018 also saw the repeal of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, one of the last laws recognizing and protecting the right to life of unborn children.

Last week, the UK Department of Health revealed that in 2017 — the last year for which it has revised abortion statistics — the number of UK abortions hit a 10-year high.

The figures were released just before the Christian celebration of the Feast of the Holy Innocents on December 28, commemorating the decree by King Herod that all male children in Israel under the age of two were to be killed.

The annual March for Life in the United States will take place in Washington, D.C., on January 18, 2019 with the theme “Unique from Day One.”

The stated purpose of the march is to end abortion by “uniting, educating, and mobilizing pro-life people in the public square.”

The annual march commemorates the January 22, 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that invalidated 50 state laws and made abortion legal and available on demand throughout the United States.

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BREAKING NEWS!! Proposed Ohio Law Could Make Abortion Punishable By Death Penalty!!

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After passing a bill through the Ohio House of Representatives that would ban abortion at six weeks, Republicans are considering legislation that would ban abortion completely in the state and make the procedure punishable by life in prison or even the death penalty.

House Bill 565 allows for no exceptions for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or danger to a woman’s life. Under the law, foetuses would be classified as “unborn humans,” making abortion punishable under the Ohio criminal code. This means that a woman who receives an abortion and doctors who perform the procedure could face criminal penalties, ranging from a prison sentence to capital punishment.

State radio station WOSU notes that the bill is being considered by the Ohio House’s health committee and that it is unlikely to be voted on this year. HB 565 is just the latest in a string of anti-choice bills drafted by Ohio Republicans. Republicans’ “heartbeat” bill — which passed the House last week — was previously vetoed by Gov. John Kasich, who instead signed a 20-week ban into law.

“Ohio just took us one step closer to becoming a forced-birth nation,” #VOTERPROCHOICE cofounder Heidi Sieck said in a statement to Refinery29 on Monday. “Legislators in Ohio are banning abortion before women even know they’re pregnant — and we must stand up and speak out against this dangerous bill.” After Brett Kavanaugh ‘s contentious confirmation, the Supreme Court now has a conservative majority, meaning it is possible for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.

Ohio is far from the only state attacking women’s reproductive rightsAlabama and West Virginia have added language into their state constitutions that curtails public funds for abortion and gives foetuses the same rights as people.

Despite the assault on abortion from Republican legislatures, polls show most Americans are in favour of keeping Roe v. Wade. “This November, voters overwhelmingly saw the important role lawmakers serve in stopping attacks on their health and rights,” Dr. Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement to Refinery29.

“People in states like Ohio that do not have this critical backstop face a heightened threat to abortion access. We must fight harder than ever to protect every woman’s right to control her own body, life, and future. We know the majority of Americans want access to safe, legal abortion. It’s time politicians listen to us — access to safe, legal abortion is a human right.”

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