Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sends Disabilities Treaty to Floor
Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tried to make abortion the primary issue in the Committee's hearing today on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Despite their attempts, the treaty was voted out of Committee on a vote of 13-6 with three Republican Senators voting with the 10 Democrats on the Committee.
Although Republican Senators Richard Lugar (IN), Johnny Isakson (GA) and John Barrasso (WY) voted with the Democratic majority to send the treaty to the floor, all three joined with their fellow Republicans in a failed attempt to pass an anti-abortion amendment offered by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Democrats argued that the politics of abortion have no place in the discussion of the treaty which is about the rights of persons with disabilities. Senator Barbara Boxer suggested to the Republican Senators that if they want to have a debate on abortion, they should do so on the floor of the Senate, not in the discussion about a treaty on the rights of the disabled.
Committee Chair Senator John Kerry's Secondary Amendment to Rubio's anti-abortion amendment passed on a party line vote with all 10 Democrats voting yes and all 9 Republicans voting no. The Kerry Amendment stated that the treaty is a "non-discrimination instrument" that it does not address particular health programs or procedures, but "Rather, the Convention requires that health programs and procedures are provided to individuals with disabilities on a non- discriminatory basis."
The treaty, which has strong support from the disabilities community will now go to the Senate floor where ratification requires a two-thirds vote.
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. . . .