The House of Representatives let the Senate-approved bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expire at the end of the 112th congressional session without ever seeing a vote. This is the first time VAWA has not been reauthorized since it was first passed in 1994.
The Senate approved the reauthorization of VAWA in April 2012 and included new provisions that would extend access to law enforcement and services for Native American women, better access for immigrant women who fear deportation if they report violence, and better access for LGBT victims. The House drafted a second version of VAWA that excluded these new protections, the Cantor/Adams VAWA. The House passed the Cantor/Adams version of the bill, which was the first time a draft of VAWA had been approved by either chamber that narrowed or restricted protections.
Without approval by both the Senate and the House, the process of reauthorizing VAWA must start over with the new congressional session.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) was one of the key sponsors of the bill in the Senate, and plans to reintroduce the bill in 2013. She issued the following statement regarding the failure of the House to reauthorize the bill, "The House Republican leadership's failure to take up and pass the Senate's bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. ...No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first."
"I think they are still so kowtowing to the extreme on the right that they're not even listening to the moderates, and particularly the women, in their caucus who are saying they support this," Senator Murray told the Huffington Post.
In the almost 18 years since VAWA was initially passed, millions have benefited from its provisions. Between 1993 and 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence declined by 67%. VAWA established the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which receives over 22,000 calls each month and VAWA funds train over 500,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and other personnel each year.
Media Resources: Guardian 1/2/2013; Huffington Post 1/2/2013; MSNBC 1/2/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/17/2012, 4/26/12
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. . . .