Ivey Noojin is an editorial intern at The American Prospect.
Due to the Hyde Amendment, federal funds can’t be used to pay for an abortion except in cases of rape or incest. But some states, like Iowa, won’t even do that.Ivey NoojinMay 16, 2019
Advocates at the state level are fighting for stronger confidentiality programs for survivors of domestic abuse.Ivey NoojinMay 14, 2019
By Ivey Noojin | Apr 19, 2019
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and it is important to understand how the trauma of rape affects every taxpayer: Many sexual-assault survivors depend on federal, state, and local government programs to help heal, recover, and restart their lives.
According to a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, rape costs 25 million victims more than $3 trillion over the course of a lifetime. Individuals struggle with impacts of the abuse, including medical and psychological trauma, as well as legal, employment, and housing issues.
The CDC researchers found that about $1 trillion of those expenses fall to government agencies. Overall, a survivor’s lifetime costs add up to more than $122,000 per person with nearly $39,000, or roughly one-third, coming from government sources. Those costs include survivors’ services provided by federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies.
Moreover, individuals who do not have stable incomes, have not attended college, or are people of color or undocumented face even more difficulties grappling with their trauma. A 2018 National Resource Center on Domestic Violence survey of advocates for domestic violence and sexual-assault survivors and social services and anti-poverty workers found that most rape survivors who already experience economic difficulties rely on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); another 20 percent collect unemployment benefits.
“The higher the level of oppression someone faces, the more challenges there could be economically after a sexual assault,” says Jennifer Wyse, the supervising social worker at the New York–based Safe Horizon, the largest nonprofit service organization for sexual abuse survivors in the United States.
It’s easy to ignore the prevalence of sexual assault. Some people conclude that if the abuse hasn’t happened to them or one of their loved ones, then the issue doesn’t affect them. But every 92 seconds someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. And taxpayers will carry the fiscal burden for the social and emotional costs that sexual-assault survivors have to deal with for the rest of their lives.
By Ivey Noojin | Mar 22, 2019
Although Maryland boasts having some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, the state is missing a critical loophole in its approach to public safety: stalking. Maryland is the only state that rules this crime a misdemeanor, which means stalkers can still buy a gun after conviction. And the state has intimate knowledge of this fact.
In July 2018, five people were murdered by a convicted stalker at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis. The perpetrator had pled guilty to criminal harassment of a former high school classmate in 2015 and attacked the newspaper because of its coverage of his sentencing. Five people paid the price because of one man’s anger toward women.
Maryland Democrats have since aimed to close this loophole. In January, Senators Susan Lee and Sarah Elfreth of Montgomery and Annapolis, respectively, introduced a bill that would prohibit stalkers from owning firearms. Since then the bill has gained 10 cosponsors, and legislators conducted a hearing on it in the House on March 21.
While the measure is a step in the right direction, it’s still not getting to the root of the problem. The true problem is that stalking is not considered enough of a threat.
According to a report by the Center for American Progress, stalking remains dangerous and prominent—even in states with harsher penalties. Around one in six women and one in 19 men have experienced stalking in their lifetime. Eighty-one percent of women who are being stalked by a former or intimate partner have been physically abused before. Seventy-six percent of murdered women were stalked the year before with a majority of stalkers being a former intimate partner. Escalation of violence is a clear pattern in stalking cases, and allowing stalkers to purchase guns is killing people.
In response, nine states have prohibited people convicted of misdemeanor stalking charges from purchasing a gun. But Maryland is not on that list. Instead, the Old Line State has focused on passing other legislation in regards to gun control, including: a red flag provision that allows family members and law enforcement to temporarily confiscate firearms; a ban on the sale and possession of bump stocks; and a requirement of domestic violence convicts to surrender their guns.
Maryland can begin to rectify this loophole in its gun restriction laws by passing the bill by Senators Lee and Elfreth. However, to truly address the problem, the state needs to look at diversifying the definition of stalking to include felony charges. Only then will there be less violent attacks like the one in the Capital Gazette newsroom.
By Ivey Noojin | Feb 21, 2019
Trump's policy agenda is losing traction among the American public as he begins his third year in office, according to a January Pew Research Center report. From the economy to health care to the environment, voters find themselves increasingly at odds with both the president’s priorities and apparent solutions.
As in years past, the economy ranks first among voters’ policy concerns. But since the end of the Great Recession, that concern has dropped, from 87 percent of voters saying the economy was their biggest priority to 70 percent today. During Trump’s time in office alone, that number has dropped 5 percentage points.
Despite this shift, Trump has made economic recovery a centerpiece of his domestic agenda—often in unpopular ways. He has damaged relationships with key partners, such as China, Mexico, and Canada, by threatening trade wars and undermining trade agreements.
Yet Americans clearly do not approve of his supposed solutions. Over the past two years, support for NAFTA has gone up by 7 percentage points. Meanwhile, fewer voters are concerned about China’s presence than anytime in the past 15 years.
Trump has also put immigration and terrorism at the top of his domestic agenda, often conflating the two through dog-whistle Islamophobia. Once again, voters don’t seem to be buying it. While immigration remains an important issue for Americans, the percentage of people concerned about terrorism is at its lowest since the September 11 attacks. From the time of Trump’s inauguration, this share has dropped nine points, from 76 to 67 percent. It would not be surprising if this percentage dropped even more due to the recent shutdown negotiations with Congress. Few outside of Trump’s base approved of the president’s hard-line approach regarding the border wall. Even now, less than 40 percent view his national emergency declaration favorably.
Meanwhile, due in part to Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act, more Americans view health care as their biggest concern than at any point since 2008. It’s not hard to see why: Since taking office, Trump has worked to undercut Obamacare at every turn, from attacking protections for patients with pre-existing conditions to allowing higher premiums that undercut the individual mandate. In response, the public made health care the most important issue for the midterm 2018 elections. Approval of Obamacare has even increased.
Finally, in spite of the administration’s fervent climate denial, protecting the environment saw the most dramatic rise on Americans’ list of priorities. Over the past two years, Trump has waged a vicious war against environmental policy and climate science, empowering fossil-fuel interests, undermining the scientific consensus on climate change, and withdrawing from the critical Paris Agreement, which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Trump also gutted the budget and staff of the Environmental Protection Agency, giving polluters an increasingly free reign to defy federal regulations. However, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center, most people want more regulation to protect the planet, not less. In this sense, the president is failing the citizens of the U.S. by not helping air and water quality and maintaining enough natural habitat. This is why legislation such as the Green New Deal has arisen in Congress.
Overall, people want change, but not the kind that Trump wants to deliver.