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Long-Term Decline in US Abortions Reverses, Showing Rising Need for Abortion as Supreme Court Is Poised to Overturn Roe v. Wade

June 15, 2022

The long-term decline in abortions in the United States that started 30 years ago has reversed, according to new data from the Guttmacher Institute--underscoring that the need for abortion care in the United States is growing just as the US Supreme Court appears likely to overturn or gut Roe v. Wade.According to new findings from Guttmacher's latest Abortion Provider Census--the most comprehensive data collection effort on abortion provision in the United States--there were 8% more abortions in 2020 than in 2017.

Captive Labor: Exploitation of Incarcerated Workers

June 15, 2022

Drawing on responses to open records requests, analysis of state and federal laws and regulations, interviews, and written questionnaires completed by incarcerated workers, this report discusses at length the features of state and federal prison labor systems that result in systemic exploitation and abuse. This report also recommends concrete steps to make prison systems treat incarcerated workers with dignity and respect for their human rights. Though this report centers on the gratuitously harsh conditions of contemporary prison labor, it is embedded in larger conversations about racism, sexism, the U.S. criminal legal system, the 13th Amendment, and the ultimate morality of this country's vast network of prisons, jails, and detention facilities. 

KFF Health Tracking Poll: Views on and Knowledge about Abortion in Wake of Leaked Supreme Court Opinion

June 9, 2022

For decades, KFF polling has provided insights into national and state-level reproductive health care policy including multiple public opinion polls examining the experiences and attitudes of the general public as well as the group most impacted by such policies – women between the ages of 18 and 49. This latest KFF poll was fielded the week following the leak of a draft of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Center. If the final ruling in the case resembles the leaked draft, the Court would overturn Roe v. Wade and end the constitutional right to abortion. This analysis examines the public's attitudes and understanding of the future of reproductive health and abortion access in the U.S. and looks at the role abortion and a decision on Dobbs may play in the upcoming midterm elections this November.

The Global Struggle Over AI Surveillance: Emerging Trends and Democratic Responses

June 7, 2022

From cameras that identify the faces of passersby to algorithms that keep tabs on public sentiment online, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools are opening new frontiers in state surveillance around the world. Law enforcement, national security, criminal justice, and border management organizations in every region are relying on these technologies—which use statistical pattern recognition, machine learning, and big data analytics—to monitor citizens.What are the governance implications of these enhanced surveillance capabilities?This report explores the challenge of safeguarding democratic principles and processes as AI technologies enable governments to collect, process, and integrate unprecedented quantities of data about the online and offline activities of individual citizens. Three complementary essays examine the spread of AI surveillance systems, their impact, and the transnational struggle to erect guardrails that uphold democratic values.In the lead essay, Steven Feldstein, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, assesses the global spread of AI surveillance tools and ongoing efforts at the local, national, and multilateral levels to set rules for their design, deployment, and use. It gives particular attention to the dynamics in young or fragile democracies and hybrid regimes, where checks on surveillance powers may be weakened but civil society still has space to investigate and challenge surveillance deployments.Two case studies provide more granular depictions of how civil society can influence this norm-shaping process: In the first, Eduardo Ferreyra of Argentina's Asociación por los Derechos Civiles discusses strategies for overcoming common obstacles to research and debate on surveillance systems. In the second, Danilo Krivokapic of Serbia's SHARE Foundation describes how his organization drew national and global attention to the deployment of Huawei smart cameras in Belgrade.

Defending Democracy in Exile: Understanding and Responding to Transnational Repression

June 1, 2022

Over the past year, governments around the world have engaged in increasingly brazen attempts to stifle dissent by attacking critics who live abroad. Belarusian authorities forced an international airliner to land so they could detain a journalist who was on board. Iranian agents conspired to kidnap a women's rights activist from her home in Brooklyn. Turkish intelligence officers abducted the nephew of a political figure from outside a police station in Nairobi. These audacious acts of transnational repression, in which governments reach across national borders to silence opposition among diaspora and exile communities, demonstrated a dangerous disregard for international law, democratic norms, and state sovereignty.Despite growing awareness of the problem, transnational repression remains a global threat to human rights and democratic values because few tools exist to protect its intended targets. People who are brave enough to stand up to autocrats can feel abandoned. As one human rights defender described it, "If I'm being honest with you, we're really alone in this." While autocrats in origin states work together to threaten them, exile and diaspora communities must contend with unprepared immigration and security agencies in host countries. They are named in abusive Interpol notices, experience reprisals for interacting with UN agencies, and must withstand sophisticated digital campaigns designed to surveil and harass them.The tactics of transnational repression are powerful because they have evolved to take advantage of the connection and openness brought by globalization. Perpetrator states have turned institutions and practices of host governments, international partnerships, and communication technologies against the vulnerable people they shelter.This report, the second in a series by Freedom House on transnational repression, examines the ways in which nondemocratic governments are pursuing their critics abroad, what governments that host exiles and diasporas can do to protect individuals targeted by foreign states, and where gaps in existing safeguards remain.

Powered by the People: Community-Driven Change in Urban Informal Settlements

June 1, 2022

A decade ago, a Muslim religious scholar named Hussain Khan was a vocal critic of the Mahila Mandal Federation (MMF), a Mumbai-based grassroots women's group, which has been nurtured by an NGO called CORO for the past 20 years. He questioned MMF's efforts to help women take on leadership roles in their communities in urban informal settlements. But instead of viewing Khan as an adversary, MMF believed he might one day become an ally.Today, Khan hosts MMF meetings at his madrassa (school), which traditionally excludes women. And he has developed a course, "Quran and the Constitution," which builds community members' awareness of their constitutional rights and their moral responsibility to help neighbours in need.What prompted Khan's change of heart?Along with MMF, CORO spent three years conversing with Khan about the challenges women living in urban informal settlements encounter, including domestic violence and low access to education. CORO was well-positioned to engage in those meetings, since it is largely led by Dalit and Muslim people who live in the communities in which they work. Khan was later selected into CORO's Samta Fellowship, where he spent a full year reflecting on the values enshrined in the Indian constitution and acquiring leadership and movement-building skills that he took back to his community.It is not an accident that Khan now champions the work of a grassroots group that he formerly opposed. It is an outgrowth of CORO's core approach to supporting community-driven change: to meet people where they are and earn their trust. The idea is to unlock their "power within" to advocate for the rights of Dalits, Muslims, and other historically marginalised communities to have an equal opportunity to advance their lives.To learn more about how this kind of ground up, community-driven change comes to life, a Bridgespan Group team spent several months researching and interviewing CORO as well as three other NGOs in the Global South: Mumbai-based Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA); Kenya's Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO); and Ubuntu Pathways (UP), which works in South Africa's Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) townships.Our research reaffirmed that community-driven change is challenging to execute. Multifaceted power dynamics related to gender, caste, class, and religion often pose significant barriers to change. However, we also learned that, despite all of this, the four NGOs pushed past those challenges to build long track records of success by playing a supporting role as community groups built their own solutions. Tightly focusing on a few NGOs, rather than on many, gave us a close-up look at on-the-ground approaches to working with community members as they take steps towards leading their own change. One of our main insights was the similarities in how community-driven organisations think. Specifically, we identified five mutually reinforcing mindsets that help orient these NGOs around community members' priorities and lived experience. 

“There Is No Help for Our Community”: The Impact of States’ COVID-19 Responses on Groups Affected by Unjust Criminalization

May 31, 2022

This report is based on information Amnesty International received in response to an online survey, distributed between May and September 2021, among partner organizations working with people affected by unjust criminalization. A total of 54 responses were received from civil society organizations working on issues including sex workers' rights, LGBTI rights, drug policy reform, homelessness, racial justice, Indigenous people's rights, discrimination based on work and descent, and sexual and reproductive rights. When further information was required, Amnesty International conducted interviews with representatives of organizations.The report incorporates country-specific primary research on the impact of Covid-19 measures previously published by Amnesty International. In addition, an extensive literature review of media reports, academic articles, reports and statements by civil society organizations and international mechanisms was carried out, as well as interviews with several international organizations, public health experts and civil society representatives. 

Do Countries Need Freedom to Achieve Prosperity? Introducing the Atlantic Council Freedom and Prosperity Indexes

May 26, 2022

The Atlantic Council's Freedom and Prosperity Center aims to increase the prosperity of the poor and marginalized in developing countries—and to explore the nature of the relationship between freedom and prosperity in both developing and developed nations. To aid in this task, this report introduces the new Atlantic Council Freedom and Prosperity Indexes.The Freedom Index measures economic, political, and legal freedom for nearly every country in the world, using the latest available data when the index was constructed at the end of 2021. The Prosperity Index measures economic wellbeing and human flourishing for the same countries and time period. In addition, we collected historical data to allow us to track and analyze change over time. We constructed the same indexes going back in five-year increments for the years 2006, 2011, and 2016; 2006 is the earliest date for which data on our indicators are available.To be sure, there are limits to any data-collection effort. The world changes quickly, and the data we collected at the end of 2021 may not still represent current realities in every case. Russia, for example, is less free today than when we collected the data, due to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine and his related crackdowns at home. In addition, we needed to choose indicators that could be applied across all countries and over time, but these generalized measures may not always fit neatly with the unique circumstances in every country. Still, despite these limitations, we believe that these indexes provide new and valuable information on global freedom and prosperity.Going forward, we plan to update the indexes annually. The methodology to produce the indexes is straightforward and transparent, and is described in detail in the appendix.

Crimes involved in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

May 21, 2022

The current war in Ukraine began with Russia's invasion on February 24th, 2022. This act is widely regarded as violating the Ukrainian people's right to self-determination. It has also been regarded as an attempt to re-colonise Ukraine and to re-establish a Russian empire in Eastern Europe.This report will focus on Russia's alleged crimes in the war in Ukraine for the purposes of cohesion and to illustrate the multifaceted nature of the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian forces. The invasion has already culminated in one of the harsher humanitarian crises of the century, where massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are at the core of the conflict. There have, however, also been reports of Ukraine's military violating the terms of the third Geneva Convention. Notably, a video emerged in which a Ukrainian soldier appears to kill a Russian soldier who had surrendered. The report will examine tactics reportedly used by Russia's military forces in its assault which violate Ukrainians' rights and are used to exert fear and submission. These include the targeting of civilian areas and infrastructure, the use of torture, rape, and the potential use of chemical weapons. 

Public Opinion on Abortion

May 17, 2022

Abortion has long been a contentious issue in the United States, and it is one that sharply divides Americans along partisan, ideological and religious lines. This Fact Sheet draws on data from a survey conducted March 7-13, 2022. Trend lines show aggregated data from polls conducted in each year. Data from 2019 and later come from Pew Research Center's online American Trends Panel; prior data from telephone surveys.

America’s Abortion Quandary

May 6, 2022

A majority of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but many are open to restrictions; many opponents of legal abortion say it should be legal in some circumstances

Abortion at SCOTUS: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health

May 4, 2022

Abortion is among the most contentious issues in the country today. On December 1st, the Supreme Court will hear the first abortion case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was seated and cemented a solid 6-3 conservative majority on the bench. The case under consideration, Thomas E. Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, involves a Mississippi law banning all abortions over 15 weeks gestational age except in medical emergencies and in the case of severe fetal abnormality. In this case, Mississippi is asking the Court to overturn the long-standing precedent of Roe v. Wade. While the Supreme Court has considered other abortion cases involving state regulations, this is the first case that the high court has taken in which a state is directly asking the Court to overturn the constitutional right to abortion. This issue brief provides background on the legal challenges to the Mississippi law in the context of the Supreme Court abortion precedents, addresses the intersections with the litigation that has arisen from S.B. 8, the Texas 6-week abortion ban, and explains the potential outcomes and how they could impact access to abortion around the country.