Weekend Edition Saturday

Saturday mornings are made for Weekend Edition Saturday, the program wraps up the week's news and offers a mix of analysis and features on a wide range of topics, including arts, sports, entertainment, and human interest stories. The two-hour program is hosted by NPR's Peabody Award-winning Scott Simon.

Drawing on his experience in covering 10 wars and stories in all 50 states and seven continents, Simon brings a humorous, sophisticated and often moving perspective to each show. He is as comfortable having a conversation with a major world leader as he is talking with a Hollywood celebrity or the guy next door.

Weekend Edition Saturday has a unique and entertaining roster of other regular contributors. Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, talks about music. Daniel Pinkwater, one of the biggest names in children's literature, talks about and reads stories with Simon. Financial journalist Joe Nocera follows the economy. Howard Bryant of EPSN.com and NPR's Tom Goldman chime in on sports. Keith Devlin, of Stanford University, unravels the mystery of math, and Will Grozier, a London cabbie, talks about good books that have just been released, and what well-read people leave in the back of his taxi. Simon contributes his own award-winning essays, which are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant.

Weekend Edition Saturday is heard on NPR Member stations across the United States, and around the globe on NPR Worldwide. The conversation between the audience and the program staff continues throughout the social media world.

A champion of abortion rights, the Texas gubernatorial candidate reveals she terminated two of her pregnancies — once because her life was endangered.

Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for the governor of Texas, came to the attention of most Americans outside Texas when as state senator she filibustered a highly restrictive abortion bill for 11 straight hours.

Now Davis is making headlines for her newly released memoir, Forgetting to be Afraid. In the book, Davis revealed for the first time that she had two abortions herself. She also details her gritty and sometimes unhappy life growing up, first in Rhode Island and then Texas, Oklahoma and California.

Davis' parents divorced, remarried and then divorced again. She told NPR's Wade Goodwyn that her family was in dire financial straits after her father started his own non-profit theater company.

"My mother, who had only a 9th-grade education — which wasn't at all uncommon for farming families of her generation — went to work for really the first time in her life," she said. "My brothers and I all went to work very young, to really help us make ends meet."

During Davis's first year in high school she met an older boy, and at the end of her junior year she moved in with him and was soon pregnant with her first child.

A nurse at the medical clinic where she worked changed Davis's life when she handed her a course brochure from the local community college.

"I started looking through it and decided that maybe I could try to become a paralegal," she says. "So while working a full-time job, and a part-time job waiting tables at my father's dinner theater at night, I also enrolled in paralegal courses."

It was an educational journey that took her all the way to Harvard Law School.

This week, Davis's opponent, Republican Greg Abbot, filed an ethics complaint accusing Davis of illegally using campaign funds for a book tour stop in New York City. The Davis campaign called the complaint "frivolous."


Interview Highlights

On her two abortions during her second marriage

The first, the ectopic pregnancy, was difficult, as you can imagine ... The second was so much more traumatic. We had tried for a couple of years, and we were so excited to discover that I was expecting a girl. We named her Tate Elise, and began preparing for her arrival, and it wasn't too much longer after that that we — my former husband and I — discovered that she had a severe brain abnormality. We were in a tailspin. Through a great deal of pain, we ultimately made a decision that the most loving thing that we could do for her was to let her go.

On running as a Democrat in a state known for electing Republicans

When I entered this race I did it thoughtfully. I knew that if I was going to ask people to donate their time or their money to me I needed to be able to look them in the eye and say, "I believe I can win." I started with an extraordinarily high name ID — which is rare for a statewide Democratic candidate. I also started with a partnership, a group of folks who saw in Texas what I see. It's not that Texas is a deeply red state, it's that it's a chronically low-vote-participation state.

We have over 240 paid field organizers on the ground. We have over 26,000 volunteers. When people believe that their votes are going to matter, they show up. I remain convinced that not only is this a winnable race, but [that] we will win it.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In the wake of players being accused of domestic abuse, the NFL has enacted a tougher policy on domestic violence. NPR's Wade Goodwyn speaks to correspondent Tom Goldman about the latest sports news.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

President Clinton signed major crime legislation in 1994, and provisions that protect women from domestic violence have deep staying power.

Twenty years ago today, former President Bill Clinton signed a massive crime-control bill that funded shelters for battered women and helped train police to investigate attacks. The anniversary of the law falls on a week when violence against women is front and center in the national conversation.

First, the Baltimore Ravens fired player Ray Rice after TMZ released a video where he knocked his then-fiancee unconscious. Then, a South African judge convicted sprinter Oscar Pistorius of negligently killing his girlfriend.

A key part of that 1994 law, known as the Violence Against Women Act, redefined wife beating as a crime rather than a joke. It's hard to believe now, but for years, that was a source of humor in TV sitcoms.

Remember Ralph Kramden taunting his wife Alice in the Honeymooners with the expression, "Pow right in the kisser?" That punch line wasn't so funny anymore back in 1994. But people still didn't take the issue as seriously as they should have.

Melanie Sloan worked on the legislation as a young House aide in those years.

"For one thing, the Violence Against Women Act made it clear that violence against women was a major problem and it hadn't really been recognized as such previous to that bill," says Sloan, who is now with the good government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Vice President Joe Biden — the lead Senate sponsor of the legislation at the time — says domestic violence hid in the shadows in the 1990s. Biden remembered the mood in a speech this week, saying "and no one, virtually no one, called it a crime. It was a family affair."

A family affair, and before the 1994 law, one with no national domestic violence hotlines and few housing options.

Ruth Glenn, an advocate for women, remembered that when she parted with her abusive husband in 1992, there was no place to turn.

"Over the next few months, my husband then harassed, and stalked and even kidnapped me at one point. Soon after, he found me again, shot me and left me for dead," says Glenn, who survived and went onto become an official at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The Violence Against Women Act survived too, along with ahead-of-its-time ideas including community policing and special courts for nonviolent drug addicts. "Community policing was thought to be soft on crime, social workers being thrown at a serious crime problem, which is not true. And drug courts were thought to be just an excuse for people who were caught up in the criminal justice system that would not be effective," remembers Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "Both of them have stood the test of time and are now celebrated as an important part of the American landscape."

Same goes for the domestic violence provisions, renewed by Congress several times. Lawmakers added an element to protect women from abusive boyfriends. Later, they included a new training program for doctors to screen patients for physical abuse. And last year, after a bruising political fight, Congress made social services available to people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Women's rights groups point out that even today, the topic's never far from the news. The Baltimore Ravens incident this week touched off a firestorm on social media. Women posted deeply personal stories with hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft.

Out in the open, instead of the shadows, as when Ruth Glenn fled years ago.

"In 1992, after 13 years of abuse when I realized what was happening to my son and I, I realized that the man that I married was not the person I had such hope and love for and fear became an every day event," Glenn told an audience in Washington this week.

Glenn and many other women say the Violence Against Women Act changed the conversation--and helped them change their lives.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.