Swift Pleads Guilty to AWOL Charges After Sexual Abuse
Specialist Suzanne Swift has agreed to plead guilty to charges of being away without leave after refusing an assignment to return to Iraq because she says she was sexually harassed and abused by other officers. The army brought charges against Swift in September after she had been away for about five months, the Associated Press reports.
Under the agreement reached with the US military last week, Swift will face a maximum punishment that is less severe than the 12 months confinement and bad-conduct discharge she would have received had she not pleaded guilty. Now, her maximum punishment would be a reduction in rank, forfeiture of two-thirds of her salary for one month, and 30 days in confinement, AP reports. [UPDATE: On Wednesday, December 13, the army sentenced Swift to 30 days confinement and demoted her from specialist to private. She is still eligible to receive an honorable discharge at the end of her service.] She will also be compelled to finish her service in the military, serving until January 2009. Swift's mother, Sara Rich, told Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, "The alternative [to accepting the guilty plea] was, she�d go to trial, be re-victimized and re-traumatized and stand up to a year in prison."
Swift had reported sexual abuse and harassment by three noncommissioned officers during her time in the military; two of these reported incidents occurred while Swift was stationed in Iraq.
According to Democracy Now, Swift's allegations went unaddressed initially. Only one claim has been substantiated, AP reports.
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. . . .