Mariah Blake

Mariah Blake

Senior Reporter

Mariah Blake is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. She has also written for The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Nation, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, and The Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. E-mail her at mblake [at] motherjones [dot] com or follow her on Twitter.

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White House Turned Down Request From Victims of First Fort Hood Attack for Meeting With Obama

| Sun Apr. 13, 2014 9:27 AM EDT
Retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford describes being shot in the head during the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage.

During last week's memorial service for victims of April 2 Fort Hood shooting, President Barack Obama spoke about the lingering hurt from the previous attack on the base in 2009. "Part of what makes this so painful is that we've been here before," Obama said. "This tragedy tears at wounds still raw from five years ago. Once more soldiers who survived foreign war zones were struck down here at home, where they're supposed to be safe." Yet, when victims of the first Fort Hood shooting invited the president to see those wounds up close, he refused, without explaining why.

The morning of the memorial, retired Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot seven times during the 2009 Fort Hood rampage, requested that Obama meet briefly with victims and their families while he was on base. Lunsford's letter, which was addressed to the president's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, also described survivors' disappointment with how they had been treated:

As you may know, the President and high-ranking members of the military promised me, my family and the other Fort Hood terror attack survivors that the federal government would "make them whole." After more than four and one-half years, however, the government has yet to make good on this promise.

We believe that if the President could hear, first-hand, our plight and our mistreatment at the hands of his bureaucracy, that he would take the steps needed to set things right. Therefore, we ask for ten minutes of his time.

In the years since Major Nidal Hasan opened fire in a crowded Fort Hood medical center, killing 13 people and wounding another 32, victims have struggled to get medical care and financial benefits. This is largely because of how the incident has been labeled. Although Hasan is an avowed jihadist with ties to Al Qaeda, the Pentagon considers the attack to be workplace violence rather than terrorism or combat. Thus victims aren't eligible for many benefits and honors available to soldiers wounded or killed in action. (For more on this topic, see "The White House Broke Its Promise to the Victims of the First Fort Hood Shooting. Will History Repeat Itself?")

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Arizona Is the Latest Front in the War on Abortion Drugs

| Tue Apr. 1, 2014 2:51 PM EDT

On Tuesday, the nation's toughest law on abortion drugs took effect in Arizona. The measure—which passed the state legislature in 2012 but was temporarily blocked by a federal lawsuit—requires doctors to prescribe the most common abortion pill, RU468 or mifepristone, exactly as called for on its 14-year-old FDA label. Studies by the World Health Organization and independent scientists have since found that the drug works equally well at a third the original dose. It can also be safely used nine weeks into pregnancy, rather than just seven, as the label states. Both the WHO and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have updated their guidelines accordingly, with lower doses and fewer doctors' visits than suggested by the FDA.

By compelling healthcare providers to stick to the outdated label, Arizona will make medication abortions—which can be performed earlier than other readily available options—more expensive and difficult to access. The Arizona law also requires that a doctor be present when the pills are taken. Women's health advocates say this will make it impossible for some women in rural areas, where doctors and abortion clinics are scarce, to access abortions at all.

Arizona is hardly the only state to clamp down on abortion drugs. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in recent years at least 39 states have passed bills limiting access. Below is a state-by-state breakdown.


A state-by-state LOOK AT abortion drug restrictions

Hover over a state to see a breakdown of restrictions in place there. Source: Guttmacher Institute.  

Fri Apr. 25, 2014 1:42 PM EDT