The United States Navy plans to allow women on submarines for the first time, military officials announced yesterday. According to the Los Angeles Times US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates informed Congress Monday of the Navy's intended policy change. The policy will go into effect as early as mid-April unless Congress objects during a 30 day waiting period.
Due to the lifting of some combat bans in 1993, women in the Navy have been able to serve on surface combat ships and combat aircrafts. They have not been not allowed to serve on submarines, in part due to living space issues. In the past, the Navy claimed the high cost of separate accommodations as the reason for the ban, reported the LA Times.
However, Missouri Representative and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton (D) stated that the current "decision to allow women to serve on submarines will present challenges, but these challenges should not be insurmountable for the Navy," according to the LA Times. Service on a nuclear submarine requires great expertise and the Navy no longer wanted to limit its prospective applicant pool.
Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Navy chief of operations, first requested the change in testimony to Congress last year. At the time, he stated that he hoped to "continue to broaden opportunities for women" in the military.
According to the Daily Mail, US Army Chief of Staff General George Casey also told the U.S. Senate Tuesday that the ban on women in the Army's infantry will be reassessed, particularly due to women's demonstration of combat skill in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Media Resources: LA Times, 2/24/2010; Daily Mail 2/24/2010; Feminist Daily News 9/28/2009
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .