US Army Chief of Staff General George Casey told the US Senate last week that the Pentagon will reassess the ban on women in the Army's infantry. He said, "I believe that it's time that we take a look at what women are actually doing in Iraq and Afghanistan and look at our policies," reported CNN.
The United States currently restricts women from direct combat roles in infantry positions or in the Special Forces. A 1994 Department of Defense directive banned women from units "whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground," reported CNN. Despite official military policy, women's participation in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has increasingly included direct combat. In contemporary warfare, there are no front lines.
John Nagl, an Iraq veteran and retired lieutenant colonel, told Agence France Presse "my best combat interrogator was a woman soldier, my best tank mechanic was a woman soldier." Army Sergeant Jennifer Hunt, who earned a purple heart in Iraq, told CNN "I do feel like I was in combat...I was engaged by the enemy when they exploded an IUD near my Humvee. You can't hit the pause button and say 'You know, I'm not supposed to be here, you know, don't shoot at me.'"
US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced last week that the United States Navy plans to allow women on submarines for the first time. The policy will go into effect as early as mid-April unless Congress objects during a 30 day waiting period.
Media Resources: CNN 2/26/10; Agence France Presse 2/28/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/17/09, 2/24/10
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. . . .