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Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering


History was made today when the U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 218-211, passed the Women’s Health Protection Act.

The act safeguards abortion rights by nullifying state abortion bans. It also guarantees the right for patients to receive abortion care and for health care professionals to provide abortions. Additionally, the Women’s Health Protection Act protects against medically unnecessary restrictions, such as mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods, admitting privilege requirements and limits on medication abortion. Such restrictions create burdensome barriers to abortion access.

This legislation is crucial, given the tsunami of religious attacks on abortion care in the United States. The year 2021 is setting records for introduction and passage of abortion restrictions. In just one week this year, 28 anti-abortion bills were signed into law. So far, there have been over 550 abortion restrictions introduced in 47 states in 2021. More than 80 restrictions have been enacted in 16 states.

Among the draconian abortion restrictions is the Texas abortion ban, enacted on Sept. 1, which has created a crisis by effectively outlawing abortions in Texas and deputizing private citizens to become abortion bounty hunters. And as the ultraconservative Supreme Court is slated to hear a major anti-abortion case that could overturn Roe v. Wade, it is vital to support legislation to protect the constitutional right to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Abortion bans are in direct contrast to public opinion, with 75 percent of all Americans supporting abortion rights, including 98.8 percent of secular voters.

That’s why the Freedom From Religion Foundation submitted formal testimony in support of the Women’s Health Protection Act.

Credit goes to major sponsors Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Conn., and Tammy Baldwin, Wis., as well as Reps. Judy Chu, Calif., Lois Frankel, Fla., Ayanna Pressley, Mass., and Veronica Escobar, Texas, and the other representatives who voted to affirm and protect reproductive freedom.

The Women’s Health Protection Act now heads to the Senate where it is sure to face opposition from anti-abortion legislators. It’s vital that we ensure that our secular voices are heard and call on our senators to pass this important piece of abortion legislation.


Could this Supreme Court undo marriage equality? FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew L. Seidel answers that question in a new column for Religion Dispatches, contending that we should be worried:

When I look at this broken, packed, partisan Supreme Court, I don’t see a guardian — I see a threat to our basic human rights. I see an institution packed with ideologues eager to throw out decades of settled law with cursory shadow docket opinions.

A quick head count shows six members willing to check any box on the conservative Christian wishlist. Barrett, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts (who agrees fully on ideology, but not methodology — he wants slow, incremental change to preserve the legitimacy of the court). The six judges of the American apocalypse have already gutted reproductive rights and completely rewritten religious freedom and state/church separation as Christian privilege. But they’re just getting started.

I’ve warned that they’re coming for contraception soon. I know most people don’t want to think about it, perhaps can’t believe it’s a possibility, but marriage equality is also on the chopping block.

Seidel also refutes the most frequently offered rebuttal. “When I raise the possibility that this court might kill marriage equality, the most commonly raised counterargument is the administrative impossibility of untangling the web of rights — parental, property, tax, insurance, financial, estate-planning and so much more — that we weave into marriage,” he writes. You’ll want to read the column to find out why he doesn’t find this too persuasive.

Please read the piece on Religion Dispatches and then share it on your social media so that people are aware of just how much is at stake and how we can solve the problem. Then start calling your senators.

Candace Gorham

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Freethought Matters” TV show this Sunday offers some answers on how nonreligious people should deal with death.

Candace R.M. Gorham is a former Christian minister who is now an atheist activist and author. Gorham has worked as a licensed mental health counselor for more than 10 years, focusing on at-risk youth and family therapy. She is a member of the Black Humanist Alliance of the American Humanist Association, the Secular Therapist Project, the Clergy Project and the Secular Student Alliance’s speakers bureau. Gorham is the author of Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion — and Others Should Too and now has a new book out called On Death, Dying, and Disbelief.

“In 2019, my high school sweetheart died tragically in a car accident,” she tells “Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor about the genesis of the book, which contains 10 tips for nonreligious folks on how to grieve. “We had reconnected later in life, and we were much more than just high school sweethearts. And so mourning his death, I felt like I needed some way to sort of process that and deal with that.”

The episode will be airing in over a dozen cities on Sunday, Sept. 26. If you don’t live in the quarter-plus of the nation where the show broadcasts on Sunday, you can already catch the interview on the “Freethought Matters” playlist on FFRF’s YouTube channel. New shows go up every Thursday. You can also receive notifications when we post new episodes of “Freethought Matters” by subscribing to FFRF’s YouTube channel.

Coming shows this season include interviews with The Nation’s Katha Pollitt and Professor Ryan Burge (a leading expert in the rise of the “Nones”).

“Freethought Matters” airs in:

  • Chicago, WPWR-CW (Ch. 50), Sundays at 9 a.m.
  • Denver, KWGN-CW (Ch. 2), Sundays at 7 a.m.
  • Houston, KIAH-CW (Ch. 39), Sundays at 11 a.m.
  • Los Angeles, KCOP-MY (Ch. 13), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
  • Madison, Wis., WISC-TV (Ch. 3), Sundays at 11 p.m.
  • Minneapolis, KSTC-IND (Ch. 45), Sundays at 9:30 a.m.
  • New York City, WPIX-IND (Ch. 11), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
  • Phoenix, KASW-CW (Ch. 61, or 6 or 1006 for HD), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
  • Portland, Ore., KRCW-CW (Ch. 32), Sundays at 9 a.m. Comcast channel 703 for High Def, or Channel 3.
  • Sacramento, KQCA-MY (Ch. 58), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
  • San Francisco, KICU-IND (Ch. 36), Sundays at 10 a.m.
  • Seattle, KONG-IND (Ch. 16 or Ch. 106 on Comcast). Sundays at 8 a.m.
  • Washington, D.C., WDCW-CW (Ch. 50 or Ch. 23 or Ch. 3), Sundays at 8 a.m.

“Freethought Matters” had an array of impressive guests last season. These included: pundit Eleanor Clift, actor and FFRF After-Life Member John de Lancie of “Star Trek” “Q” fame, Professor Steven Pinker, one of the most eminent global public intellectuals, and A.C. Grayling, a prominent British philosopher and the author of about 30 books, who grappled on the show with philosophy and the pandemic. The show launched its new season early this month with clips from the best past interviews on the program. Two weeks ago, it featured an interview with famed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkinswhile last week’s show focused on a secular public education lawsuit that’s become a historic milestone.

Please tune in to “Freethought Matters” . . . because freethought matters.

P.S. Please tune in or record according to the times given above regardless of what is listed in your TV guide (it may be listed simply as “paid programming” or even be misidentified). To set up an automatic weekly recording, try taping manually by time or channel. And spread the word to freethinking friends, family or colleagues about a TV show, finally, that is dedicated to providing programming for freethinkers!