For the first time, two female soldiers have been admitted into the Marine Corps' Infantry Officer Course. Their admittance is experimental and the results will be considered by the Pentagon when deliberating the inclusion of women in combat units from which they are currently excluded.
The Infantry Officer Course is an intensive 86 day challenge that approximately 25% of participants fail. As participants in the course, men and women soldiers will undergo equal challenges and evaluation. Women are considered "just another student" to instructors like Capt. Brian Perkins. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will review the results of this women inclusive trial program next month when reevaluating the "physical standards" required for obtaining certain jobs in the military.
"If women remain restricted to combat service and combat service support specialties, we will not see a woman as Commandant of the Marine Corps, or CENTCOM commander, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Greg Jacob, policy director for the Service Women's Action Network, said in May. "Thus women in the military are being held back simply because they are women. Such an idea is not only completely at odds with military ethics, but is distinctly un-American."
Earlier this year, female soldiers responded to the limitations of women's combat positions within the military through a lawsuit claiming violation of equal protection under the Fifth Amendment. This lawsuit took place after a new policy promising more positions for women resulted in no change. NPR claims "job-related physical requirements" have prevented women from entering the combat units in the past.
Media Resources: USA Today 10/3/12; Business Insider 10/3/12; Feminist Newswire 5/24/12; NPR 10/4/12.
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. . . .