By Brigitte Amiri, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

The imposing columns. The ornate and soaring ceiling. The hushed tone. The Supreme Court feels like a place where justice happens. There is a sense of importance, reverence, and loftiness. I've worked on every reproductive rights case to reach the Supreme Court in the last 15 years, and, as corny as it sounds, it is always thrilling for me to watch a Supreme Court argument. That excitement is what I felt on Tuesday when I was in the courtroom waiting for the Court to hear the Hobby Lobby case, which is a challenge to the federal law that requires health plans to include contraception.

By Shivana Jorawar, Esq., National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum

Next week, the South Dakota legislature is expected to pass HB 1162, a bill that stereotypes Asian immigrants and restricts access to abortion. Supporters of the measure are using racially inflammatory language, invoking nativism and warning of the supposed danger created by the presence of Asians in the state. The bans purport to criminalize doctors who perform "sex-selective abortions," which supporters claim are being sought out by Asian-American women.

Stace Nelson, one of the Representatives that voted in favor of the bill, stated, "Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was. There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state."
By: Heather Smith, Executive Director

We've nicknamed Senate Bill 128 the kitchen sink bill because it includes a little bit of everything discriminatory. First and foremost this bill would impact LGBT people, but would also affect business owners, religious institutions, hospitals, and schools all in the name of the bill sponsors so-called religious freedom.

But it seems the bill sponsors are confused about what religious freedom means.

Religious freedom in America means that we all have a right to our religious beliefs, but this does not give us the right to use our religion to discriminate against and impose those beliefs on others who do not share them.

Ultimately, this bill is about discrimination.
My name is Heather Smith and I'm the new Executive Director for the ACLU of South Dakota. I was hired last year to direct the legal, legislative and advocacy programs for the ACLU in South Dakota and I'm thrilled to be leading the ACLU this year and beyond.

We're only one week into 2014 and we have already been extremely busy working on a range of issues including privacy rights, reproductive freedom, juvenile justice, voting rights, capital punishment and LGBT equality just to name a few.

In the coming weeks you can expect to see us at the legislature advocating for the protection of South Dakotans' rights and liberties afforded under the state and federal Constitutions.

We'll post regular updates about our work in the courts, community and legislature on our brand new web site. And since you're already here, please take a moment to check out the new information available including the online legal intake form, making it easier for us to help South Dakotans with legal questions, and our blog and news feeds so you can easily keep up to date on the latest ACLU happenings.

I look forward to keeping you informed and involved in our work. Have a happy and healthy New Year, South Dakota.

Heather Smith

By: Jennifer Petersen

The end of the year presents an opportunity to reflect on those things for which we are most thankful. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act this year, we're particularly jazzed that employers are required to offer health insurance that covers contraception. This means, pending a Supreme Court challenge this spring, women will have access to birth control with zero copay and with zero input from their employers.

We're so stoked we wrote a song about it!
By Louise Melling, Director, Center of Liberty; Deputy Legal Director, ACLU

When you show up at a hospital, in need of medical aid, you expect that you're going to get the care that you needthat the doctors and nurses will figure out what's wrong, explain to you the options for treating it, and give you the best medical care possible.

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