Why is Siri anti-abortion?

I’m much to cheap to get an Iphone (though I love my Ipad and Itouch– those monthly data costs are killer), but I have to admit that the voice-activated assistant, Siri, is pretty cool.  I was pretty surprised to learn, though, that she’s really letting her politics get in the way.

Ask the Siri, the new iPhone 4 assistant, where to get an abortion, and, if you happen to be in Washington, D.C., she won’t direct you to the Planned Parenthood on 16th St, NW. Instead, she’ll suggest you pay a visit to the 1st Choice Women’s Health Center, an anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) in Landsdowne, Virginia, or Human Life Services, a CPC in York, Pennsylvania. Ask Google the same question, and you’ll get ads for no less than 7 metro-area abortion clinics, 2 CPCs and a nationwide abortion referral service.

Ask in New York City, and Siri will tell you “I didn’t find any abortion clinics.”

It’s an experience that’s being replicated by women around the country: despite plentiful online information about actual places to get an abortion, Siri doesn’t seem to provide it. It’s a similar experience for women seeking emergency contraception: in New York City, Siri doesn’t know what Plan B is and, asked for emergency contraception, offers up a Google results page of definitions.

Lest you think this is representative of Siri just not being all that effective, it’s not:

But Siri certainly seems to know a whole lot about plenty of other things iPhone customers might want. Below are 10 things Siri can help you find.

1. Viagra.
2. Hospitals to go to if you’ve had an erection lasting for more than 5 hours.
3. Places you might be able to score marijuana.
4. Where to dump a body: in Brooklyn, it recommends a smelting plant in New Jersey.

No matter what you think of abortion, it’s just wrong that Siri seems to be forwarding an ideological agenda about a legal activity.  I’m honestly quite surprised.  I’d expect this form a Wal-Mart product, but Apple?

Nuclear protesting is fun!

Alan Taylor’s latest curated images, in this case a series of anti-nuclear protests in Germany.  I just loved this one as I’m quite amused by how much this one man has clearly enjoyed attaching himself to railroad tracks to prevent a train with nuclear waste from passing:

Infidelity and demographics

Came across this a little while ago and thought it was pretty interesting.  Given today’s big news about the most recent allegations regarding Herman Cain’s marital fidelity, this seemed like a good time to go ahead and post this. Basically, this is a report that looks at marital fidelity (or lack thereof) and demographics.  Of course, what seems most striking is the male-female gap in actual cheating.   The curvilinear pattern in education is somewhat interesting as well, as those “some college” types are the biggest cheaters.   And, hey, as a Black Man, Cain certainly is more likely to be a cheater than any other demographic category.  Especially as an older one (presumably, the longer one is married, the more opportunities to cheat.


The second chart looks not at behavior, but attitudes.  Here the story seems to be– consistent with a number of other “moral” attitudes– more education leads to more tolerance from deviation from “traditional values”.  Thus, even though they don’t cheat the most, the post-graduates are the most accepting of infidelity.

Shaken Baby and SC injustice

Why does being conservative have to mean that you are inured to gross injustice?  Back this summer I blogged on the increasing controversy about shaken baby syndrome and the dubiousness of the cases against many people currently serving prison sentences for killing babies who, in all likelihood, never did anything wrong at all.  Sure, there are legitimate cases of this, but there’s also cases with not just reasonable, but probable doubt, where there have been convictions.  In light of the rapidly-evolving scientific understanding, you’d like to think the Supreme Court might be a little more sensitive to issues of injustice in cases like this, but apparently that would be asking too much.  Far more important to follow the precise letter of a very imperfect law than to let a probably innocent person go free– right?  Emily Bazelon has the details:

The Supreme Court released a decision last month that will easily be the most vindictive of the term. And hardly anyone noticed.

That’s because the case didn’t go through the full treatment of oral argument and a signed majority opinion. Instead, the court quietly went about sending a grandmother back to prison for a crime she probably did not commit, to bring a lower court to heel. It’s a decision that treats the technicalities of appellate review as paramount, and the task of doing justice as beside the point.

[details about a highly dubious conviction.  Read them, you should]

The California Supreme Court declined to review the case. So Smith turned to the federal courts. At this point, the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act kicks in. This is perhaps my least-favorite law. AEDPA tells federal courts that they can’t overturn state courts except in a narrow set of circumstances: If a conviction is contrary to or unreasonably applies clearly established federal law, or if it’s based on an unreasonable determination of the facts. AEDPA is a straitjacket. The federal courts are supposed to put it on and quit worrying about whether innocent people have been put in prison.

A panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit refused to do that. They looked at the medical testimony against Shirley Ree Smith and how badly it holds up to the light of current knowledge, and they said that Smith had spent enough years in prison…

Normally, that would be that. AEDPA or no AEDPA, the Supreme Court doesn’t usually reach out and grab sad, fact-bound cases like this one. But liberal 9th Circuit judges are a thorn in the side of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices. Last month, after twice sending the 9th Circuit pointed warnings about this case, the Supreme Court  reversed the circuit court’s decision. The majority’s brief and unsigned opinion concedes that “doubts about whether Smith is in fact guilty are understandable.” But according to six justices, it’s not the 9th Circuit’s job to do anything about that…

In Shirley Ree Smith’s case, Justice Ginsburg concludes, “I would not ignore Smith’s plight and choose her case as a fit opportunity to teach the 9th Circuit a lesson.” That’s exactly right, too. There is only one lesson worth learning from this case, and it is about the power of mercy.

Bazelon concludes that California’s governor, Jerry Brown, still has the chance to do the right thing.  Since he is a Democrat, maybe he actually will.

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