VA Prison Allegedly Segregated Women on Basis of Sexual Orientation
Virginia's largest women's correctional facility allegedly segregated inmates on the basis of actual or assumed sexual orientation over the past year. Women presumed to be gay were housed in a separate wing, 5D, referred to as the "little boys wing" or "butch wing" by guards at Fluvanna Correctional Women's Facility, reported the Advocate. The inmates housed in wing 5D were allegedly placed there because they were assumed to be lesbians or who were classified as "butch" based on clothing, hair, and/or demeanor.
Statements from two current guards and a former guard, William Drumheller, who spoke to the Associated Press, indicate that the separation of inmates occurred to halt sexual activity in the prison. Drumheller said he overheard a manager say, "We're going to break up some of these relationships, start a boys wing, and we're going to take all these studs and put them together and see how they like looking at nothing but each other all day instead of their girlfriends." Although the three guards have confirmed accusations of segregation based on physicality, Warden Barbara Wheeler denied any segregation on the basis of sexual orientation or appearance. Since the allegations surfaced, the practice of separating inmates to facility 5D ceased.
Trina O'Neal, one of the first inmates sent to 5D, wrote to the Associated Press: "I have been gay all my life and never have I once felt as degraded, humiliated or questioned my own sexuality, the way I look, etc., until all of this happened."
Media Resources: The Associated Press 6/11/09; pinknews 6/11/09; The Advocate 6/12/09
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. . . .