An anti-abortion provision with potentially widespread impact will remain intact as part of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for 2005, in spite of efforts by pro-choice Senators to block the measure. President Bush is expected to sign the omnibus spending bill.
On Friday, nine female Senators, including Olympia Snowe (R-ME), sent a letter to chair of the Appropriations Committee Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), requesting that the language of the clause be changed and protesting the fact that the Federal Refusal Clause had not been discussed in committee, nor had it been put to a vote on the Senate floor. According to the women Senators, the clause, sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), would “allow a broad range of health-care companies refuse to comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations pertaining to abortion services. Should this provision become law, federal, state, or local governments may no longer require any institutional or individual health-care provider to provide, pay for, or refer abortion services. This will mean that medical providers in hospitals and clinics across the country will likely be victims of demonstrations and intimidation as this provisions allows that they be forbidden from providing abortion care to women who need it, and also to deny women referrals to another provider.”
Moreover, according to the women Senators, the provision “will interfere with the authority of Attorneys General to reject, approve, or impose terms on the sale or transfer of asset by nonprofit health entities as under current law. For example, an attorney General could no longer reject a merger proposal on the grounds that the result would be diminished community access to full reproductive health services.”
After threats by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), one of the signatories to the letter, to use procedural motions to delay the vote on the bill, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) guaranteed that he would hold a separate vote on the provision in the Senate next spring.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told the Los Angeles Times that the Federal Refusal Clause is “an extraordinary sneak attack on women’s rights,” maintaining that “federal dollars should not be used to deny the federally protected right to choose.”
In response to the addition of the Federal Refusal Clause, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) told the New York Times that he plans on forcing a vote next year to show support for Roe v Wade. “I think it is time the women of American understand what is happening here,” Harkin said.
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .