This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable

Need to Know, June 17, 2011: New voter laws, the anti-abortion movement, therapy for Tourette’s syndrome

With candidates already gearing up for the upcoming 2012 election, we look at how several states have been rewriting their voting laws and how it might impact the coming electoral season. We visit Ohio to see how the new laws there might affect voter turnout.

Also, as a follow-up to our panel on the state of women’s rights, we speak with Charmaine Yoest of the group Americans United for Life to see how the anti-abortion movement strategy has evolved and what their efforts have achieved at the state level. We also examine a new alternative therapy to Tourette’s syndrome and how it has already helped one 12-year-old boy battle the disorder.

And: Science journalist Chris Mooney explains the psychological factors behind science denial and how our pre-existing beliefs affect our capacity for logic. Author Benjamin Skinner speaks to us about his work exposing the world of modern-day slavery, and Jon Meacham delivers an “In Perspective” essay on the West Virginia coal mining disaster and the need for a national energy plan.

Check your local listings for details.

Watch the individual segments:

What will new voting rules mean on election day?

With nearly a dozen states rewriting their voting laws, Need to Know examines the potential impact on voter turnout in Ohio.

Shifting the abortion fight to the states

Charmaine Yoest, head of Americans United for Life, talks about how the strategy of the anti-abortion rights movement has changed in recent years, and what the movement has achieved by focusing on changing law at the state level.

Gaining control over Tourette’s

A new alternative therapy is proving to be as effective as medication in treating the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome. Need to Know meets a 12-year-old boy showing marked improvement since he began the therapy.

In Perspective: Considering ‘The Last Mountain’

Jon Meacham discusses a new documentary, “The Last Mountain,” about the destructiveness of the West Virginia coal mining industry, and argues for consensus on a national energy plan.

Why you can’t handle the truth: The psychology of denial

Correspondent Win Rosenfeld talks to science journalist Chris Mooney about the extent to which our pre-existing beliefs, far more than facts, color our conclusions about the world.

Benjamin Skinner on modern-day slavery

Alison Stewart interviews Benjamin Skinner, investigative journalist and author of “A Crime So Monstrous,” about his work exposing the world of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

  • thumb
      Watch the full episode
    A symphony orchestra thrives in Congo, and we investigate faltering safety in work sites that police themselves. Also: South Sudan's historic election and Jami Floyd on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case. Maria Hinojosa guest hosts.
  • thumb
      Watch the full episode
    How will Greece's debt crisis affect the U.S. and the rest of the world? Also: California's radical new approach to statewide redistricting, and journalists Brian Stelter and David Carr discuss "Page One: Inside the New York Times."
  • thumb
      Watch last week's episode
    We explore the inner workings of a military organization's $17 billion effort to combat IEDs, and Jami Floyd discusses the ramifications of the Supreme Court's decision on the Wal-Mart case. Also: The science of what makes a good marriage.


  • Elizabeth Beth Bonner Tagliare

    these people do some good reporting….

  • Terri Cobb CNA Certification

    First it’s anti-abortion, then it’s anti-birthcontrol, look at some of the other states, they are already doing this.  While I personally would never have an abortion, I sleep well at night knowing the option is still there for me in my home state.  This agenda does seem to be at the top of the list with some politicians hopefully when everyone goes to vote, they will vote their conscience, not what the advertisments have told them to do.

  • Danielle

    How can you say in the same sentence that you would never have an abortion and that you are glad that that “option” is there for you in case you ever need it? That is just not logical thinking.
    Would you ever say that you personally would never kill someone, but are sleeping well at night knowing that that “option” is available to you in your state if you ever need it? Please think about this and think about what you are claiming to stand for.

  • afisher73

    I stopped watching Need to Know after the third episode, because I found it trivial and juvenile.  It was on today when I turned on the t.v., and I see that nothing has changed.  P.B.S. can do better than this.  I miss Bill Moyers Journal!

  • Anonymous

    “Motivated reasoning?”  Nice new coat of paint on a very longstanding tenant of psychology.
    Try Googling “cognitive dissonance” for the original description of how we ignore contradictory evidence in favor of the confirmatory…   I’m really surprised to hear (over and over) this “new term” of “motivated reasoning”. We don’t need to be motivated to employ reasoning! We do it! But Festinger said the *exact* same thing in 1957 (e.g., ) and for over 50 years a basic part of most psychology coursework is the look at “cognitive dissonance”. This is exactly the dynamic being re-named now: If we face 2 contradictory statements or decisions, we tend to make more positive the one we are inclined towards, and find negatives and reasons to justify our not going with an alternative view.

    FWIW … And in the interest of the history of psychology: A classic was/is Festinger’s “cognitive dissonance” model. Call it what you like, he saw it and described it quite well. 

  • shastadaisy

    It’s more fun to stick your nose in my medical life than solve anything.

  • shastadaisy

    It’s more fun to stick your nose in my medical life than solve anything.

  • Pete Biddier

    Yes; I would kill something, because if I should have to pay for something for 18 year with my higher tax money that i did not have fun making; I should not only have a say in what happen to that thing, but also if starts are finding it hard to feed all the people that need food out there then how can they feed one more or are you saying that you will go that for the starts?      

  • Pete Biddier

    Shouldn’t the voter in Ohio be told about the law to change how you can vote and then let the voter in the state Ohio vote were to keep it as is or not.    

  • Dee

    Anti-Abortion/Pro-Life is code for big business. How else to ensure furture numbers for foster care, jails, judges, lawyers, social workers, housing, medical, mental health, the list goes on and on. This is nothing less than “Human Trafficing”. Pro-Life knows full well the odds against  these babies they’re so passionate about saving, unwanted pregnancies are job security to millions. Follow the $$$$ from the birth to death of these saved babies. Take a very close look at the people who push this the hardest. Not to say some actually do believe, but then where are they when these babies are abandoned to the very systems that ensure they enter all the institutions listed, screaming for harsher jail terms, and looking with distain at the neighborhoods where the unwanted ended up, now it’s the property value going down. It’s all about numbers, the more disadvantaged babies, the cash keeps flowing. Harsh, yes, but 27 years in the jail system opens ones eyes as to what is really going on, and how many trafficers depend and ensure the numbers are there, voting Pro-Life.  Follow the $$$$$ 

  • Jody

    Liked the interview, but wonder why the statement that all science agrees on when life begins wasn’t challenged more (although it did seem to take the interviewer by surprise and I think she should have been ready for that one). Congratulations to you, and this program, for trying to give equal voice to the conservative positions, no matter how difficult that might be. And, you preparation for most of these interviews is outstanding. It is good to see you be able to respond to the “facts” offered by the person interviewed with what is the real situation and not the one they like to imagine (which, in the case of the voting rights interview, is now considered “fact”— that is what one imagines is “fact”).  Keep up your good work. 

  • Catherine

    Americans United for Life and several other pro-life organizations seem to push so hard for anti-abortion bills, yet very openly neglect birth control. And then we have trashy programs like MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” that almost glamorizes teen pregnancy. Sure, let’s not prevent pregnancy, nor provide opportunities for girls and women to have access to birth control, medical care, and safe abortions. Let’s just let children (oh, and their parents) raise children, and cause more problems in society. Dee and Terri also had very good points.

  • catherine

    THIS IS A MONEY MAKER FOR DRUG COMPANIES… if we continue to eliminate abortion and planned parenthood, who is this aimed at truly? the poor and the impoverished. Why, if you are complaining about government funding are you going to INCREASE the BIRTH RATE for those who CANNOT afford it! no sense here just big dollars as you put these unborn children on the new DSM-IV where the pregnant mother can now be put on psychotropic, and any other psychiatric drug,
    So are we changing the laws because there is a DECREASE in CHILD ABUSE, NEGLECT and foster homes? so we go adopt from other countries instead of our own?

    This new treatment is for anyone with a psychiatric disorder that wants to reproduce. So maybe the pre-birth drugs to prevent the infant from possibly having psychiatric problems after birth. So this law is being pushed silently all these years to undermine a woman’s right over her own body. One million babies a year born in this country and 70% are on food assisted meals at school. Yeah this is smart…for large companies to feed off testing the poor and impoverished.

  • Ellen_D

    There are lots of people who cannot travel to get id, including students and the poor but also including people with disabilities. Where I live, the place where we have to go to get drivers licenses and ids is in the country on a side road about 12-15 miles from all cities of any size. It would cost a lot to get a cab there and back.

    On these voting bills, has anyone asked / suggested / demanded that, if voting will require a photo  i.d. and since voting is a fundamental right and obligation in this country, shouldn’t we have state-funded provision of voter ids widely accessible – and coupled with outreach to all potential voters so they know how to get their id’s.

    We should have the same level of information – and access – to get a photo id so we can vote as we get about where and when to vote.

  • Ellen_D

    I was as sad as anyone to see Bill Moyers and Now come to an end. And in its earliest days, Need to Know was, well, klunky. But, I have to say, that Need to Know has really grown up quickly and is playing an important role in providing information. Allison Stewart has become a good interviewer, and I think Jon Meacham has found his niche as an opiner. I like the range of topics being covered, and I appreciate keeping an eye on events in Haiti.

    Now if only my local public broadcasting station would carry Need to Know. Instead they have doubled down on Antiques Road Show.

  • William Brangham, Need to Know

    You make a point that’s echoed by many critics of these tougher photo i.d. requirements — namely, that it often costs money to get a government photo i.d. (like a drivers license) if you don’t have one.  As you mention, it can be expensive to get to your DMV/BMV if you don’t drive.  It can also cost money to get the supporting documents (birth certificates, etc.) you need to actually get the i.d.  Some government agencies also charge a fee for the i.d. itself.  Some states, including Ohio where we focused our report, include provisions that anyone declaring ‘indigence’ can have the fee waived, but they’ll still have to incur these other potential costs.

  • Ellen_D

    I wonder whether imposing these extra costs in order to vote might be considered a violation of the 24th Amendment to the US Constitution. My area is labor and employment law, so this is pretty far outside my area of expertise.

    U.S. Constitution – Amendment 24

    1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

    2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

  • ken byrne

    why is abortion put souly on women? after all it was a man that got them pregnent in the first why shouldnt men bare more of the burden..why is it that a men can destroy millions of perfectly good life forms with no consequences.if you truly want to protect life shouldent you start with men? an what about these women who ovulate an dont get pregnent?/everytime an egg is destroyed a life is lost. shouldnt we be putting these killers in prision? every woman should be forced to fertalize an egg when it is ready. an every man should be inprisioned 1 year for each of his life forms that fails to to make it into an egg? why should only the strongest survive? who in gods name created a system that provides only 1 egg for 100s,1000s of life forms? eventualy the meek will inheiret the earth or maybe not if only the strongest can make it to the egg???

  • ken byrne

    have you been to the DMV lately? lets add 100 million more people to the already long lines at the DMV..