North Carolina, a state in the conservative Midwest of the United States has introduced a law that bars the bar from using what is termed as foreign law during family lawsuit proceedings. The Family, Faith and Freedom Protection Act was signed into law on August 26, 2013 by Governor Pat McCrory who declined to use his power of veto on this specific bill.
This action has come in for criticism from proponents of Sharia Law, as well as, abortion activists that find the law discriminatory and tailored to ensure that the Islamic faith cannot take root in the state while curbing the rights of women that want to reserve the right to carry out abortions and when they see fit. House Bill 695 is crafted to counter the supposed threat of foreign invasion on American soil while protecting the life of the unborn child.
The law seeks to curtail activities surrounding foreign law used in a foreign territory or forum regarding an established legal system, legal code, resolution and law rule that came into effect outside the United States. This law includes the interpretation of contracts using foreign law specifically targeting the Sharia Law, and carefully omits the name so as to avoid the likelihood as being seen to target a particular religion or religious grouping.
The Senate passed House Bill 695 unanimously while under committee review, punitive abortion restrictions were added to it, as well as, the prevention of State health care exchanges introduced under the federal health care plan to cover procedures. This included the restriction of physicians to provide medications that would induce abortion. Conversely, the extent of safety regulations on abortion clinics would mean that only one would be left open for this purpose.
In the past couple of years, more than 25 states have passed these types of laws in the country though not simultaneously. At the same time, up to 15 of these states have established one form of legislation or the other curbing access of women to abortion. This includes reducing the likelihood of getting state funding to organizations that offer such services, or following the same path that North Carolina has used in order to halt operations of most clinics within the state.
Such actions have been carried out openly to stop Sharia from being applied in the constitutional law of the United States with Oklahoma being the first to do so in 2010 with 70% of voters supporting the ban on Sharia Law. This was a direct attempt to ban the use of Sharia Law regarded as a threat, but in this case, the courts did not find the argument convincing enough to warrant its outright banning.
To the relief of Muslims, a ruling was passed on August 25, 2013, stating that the ban on Sharia constituted an infringement on the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution that was established to bar the interference of the relations between church and state, but the State Governor ascended to the new Family, Faith and Freedom Protection Act because the Sharia Law was not expressly mentioned.
More often, non-proponents to ban on Sharia and restrictions to abortion are united in their missions, and able to lobby for such actions as one group of activists. On the other hand, opposition has not been able to do so. For example, activists from the Planned Parenthood lobby and the Council of American-Islamic Relations are not united in their opposition to the enactment of both laws. This can be attributed to the opposition to abortion on spiritual grounds. The rights are not covered under one umbrella in the constitution, as well.
The Family, Faith and Freedom Protection Act exposes the anti-feminist platform on which the bill was authored. A careful study of the anti-abortion position, and ban on Sharia Law indicate that all is not well on women’s rights front. As such, Muslim women are disadvantaged when it comes to the matter of addressing issues pertaining to their marriage contracts. This means that they miss out on certain guarantees and privileges arising from the failure of their marriages. There is no enforcement of the rules governing the Islamic marriage contract and divorce.
In North Carolina, which has banned all foreign law, this prohibition would extend not only to Muslim women, but to all women who have negotiated prenuptial agreements in any country other than the United States. This Act affects women who have been married under any laws that originate outside the United States.
Proponents of this law argue that it enhances the protection of women’s rights, but this is contrary to the effects it has on Muslim women who do not benefit from the omission of laws relating to marriage. It is a blanket ban that takes away the rights which it is supposed to be jealously guarded. As such, it goes against the very principles of equality enshrined in the constitution of the United States and subsequent interpretation in a court of law.
The end result is a total misinterpretation of the law regarding the basic fundamental rights that it chooses to protect. The paternalistic views of the proponents of the House Bill 695 should remain that way and not form a part of the legislation. Women are entitled to make decisions regarding their bodies and should be able to get what is due to them according to the marriage contract or religion that they opt to wed under.
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