California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law today, called "Chelsea's Law," that stiffens penalties for violent sex offenses against children. The law (see PDF), immediately changes the sentencing guidelines in many current sex offender cases in California courts. Among other provisions, the new law allows for life sentences for sex offenders who attack children under the age of 14 and makes some sex offenders eligible for life parole. Chelsea's Law includes an urgency clause that makes it effective immediately.
The legislation was introduced in the state legislature after registered sex offender John Gardner III was arrested in the February 2010 rape and murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King in San Diego. According to the Los Angeles Times, in May 2010, Gardner pled guilty in the murders of both King and 14-year-old Amber Dubois, who had been missing for a year. He is currently serving three consecutive life sentences and has no possibility of parole.
The law, which was sponsored by state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R) of San Diego, passed by a rare unanimous vote in the California state legislature. Chelsea's mother, Kelly King, told the lawmakers at the bill signing that "You've shown [the next generation] what is good and right and sound decision making in government," reported CNN. Chelsea's father, Brent King, has said he was initially skeptical about whether or not the bill could pass in the state legislature and had considered seeking passage of the law through the ballot initiative process, according to the Associated Press.
Media Resources: AB 1844; Los Angeles Times 9/9/10; Associated Press 9/9/10; CNN 9/9/10
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .