Talking politics at the Thanksgiving table may be impolite, but is always inevitable. So before you kick off that dinner policy debate, here are 8 facts that will stun your family and friends.
One in three U.S. women will have an abortion in her lifetime.
Abortion is an incredibly common aspect of women’s reproductive health care, but people don’t often talk about it. In fact, according to the Guttmacher Institute, one-third of American women will have an abortion by the time she turns 45. Reproductive rights activists are attempting to combat the stigma and shame that often makes women feel like they can’t be honest about their experiences with abortion.
More than 11,000 children have died in the Syrian civil war.
Though the Obama Administration negotiated a highly successful deal to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, the underlying humanitarian crisis — a brutal civil war showing few signs of abatement — continues. A recent report from Oxford Research Group found that “more than 11,000 children have died in Syria’s civil war, including 128 killed by chemical weapons and hundreds targeted by snipers.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that at least 115,000 people have been killed in the conflict as of October.
Workers can be fired because they are victims of domestic violence in 43 states.
In June, California teacher Carie Charlesworth was fired from her position because she was a victim of domestic violence and her abusive husband showed up in the school parking lot. Firing her was perfectly legal until October, when the state finally passed a law banning employment discrimination based on whether someone is a victim of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault. Sadly, California joined just six other states in prohibiting such discrimination — leaving victims in the rest of the states vulnerable to being fired thanks to the actions of their abusers. Lawmakers have repeatedly offered a federal fix to ensure that all workers are protected, with the most recent version introduced in March.
Income inequality in the U.S. is worse than it is in Ethiopia.
The top ten percent of American earners took home more than 50 percent of total national income last year, the highest amount ever recorded since data was first collected in 1917. The top 1 percent saw even faster gains, but the bottom 99 percent of earners, on the other hand, only saw income increase by 1 percent. Income inequality has skyrocketed since the 1970s and was only exacerbated by the recession, and it is now worse here than in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, the Ivory Coast, Pakistan, and Ethiopia.
Even red state voters believe climate change is real.
New research from Stanford University social psychologist Jon Krosnick finds that a “vast majority of red-state Americans believe climate change is real and at least two-thirds of those want the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions.” Eighty-seven percent of Oklahomans and 84 percent of Texans reject climate change denial and 76 percent of residents in both states “also believed the government should step in to limit greenhouse gas emissions produced by industry.”
You can still be fired for being LGBT in 29 states.
Only 21 states and DC prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and 16 and the District of Columbia offer protections for gender identity. Earlier this month, the Senate approved The Employment Nondiscrimination Act — a bill to protect gay, lesbian and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace — in a vote of 64 to 32. Ten Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents to support the measure, which is not expected to receive a vote in the GOP-controlled House.
Medical marijuana helped cure a 6-year-old’s seizures.
No, calling marijuana “medical” isn’t just an excuse for potheads to have legal access. It actually helps to cure illnesses. Take, for example, the case of Charlotte Figi. She is a six-year-old girl who suffered from seizures so severe they lasted hours, sometimes even causing her heart to stop. She couldn’t walk or eat or talk thanks to her seizures. But then Charlotte’s parents discovered medical marijuana, and found a doctor to administer a low dosage of it in liquid form. Charlotte’s seizures stopped and her life resumed. Sadly, though, Charlotte’s fate might have been different if she lived in another state. Only 20 states and DC have medical marijuana laws.
There are more prisoners in the U.S. than construction workers, engineers, and high school teachers.
The United States doesn’t just have a large number of prisoners. It has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. Higher than Russia. Higher than Rwanda. In fact, as the Huffington Post reported earlier this year, if sitting in prison were a job, it would be one of the most common jobs in the United States. There are more U.S. prisoners than there are construction workers, engineers, and even high school teachers: