Dorothy Jonas, Feminist Majority Foundation Board Member, Feminist Champion, Remembered
One of the founding board members of the Feminist Majority Foundation in 1987, longtime feminist activist Dorothy Jonas died on June 22 (1921 - 2013).
In the late 1970s Jonas played a pivotal role as a leader in California for the nationwide campaign for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). She chaired numerous celebrity filled events to raise critical funding for the National Organization for Women's (NOW's) campaign in unratified states.
An expert on the impact of court-imposed joint custody agreements and on women and divorce, she was a vigorous advocate of family law reform. In 1985, Eleanor Smeal (NOW's then-president) appointed Jonas to chair the new NOW Task Force on the Rights of Women in Marriage. Together with her daughter Bonnie Sloane, Jonas campaigned successfully to improve legal protection for marital property rights. After a seven-year effort, a landmark bill was signed by California Gov. Pete Wilson in 1991, making California the first state to guarantee full protection of the law for the economic rights of spouses.
"Dorothy was unbelievably determined. She won against overwhelming odds extensive rights for married women. Through many years and many campaigns for women's rights and full equality, I could always turn to Dorothy to take on a key job. I could always count on her know-how and tenacity to get the job done," said Eleanor Smeal, president and co-founder of FMF, and former president of NOW.
Jonas was active in the California Democratic Party and an early member of the powerful Los Angeles based Women's Political Committee, whose aim is to elect more feminist Democratic women to public office.
Says Peg Yorkin, co-founder of the FMF and chair of the board, "If one were to meet Dorothy at a political or social event, she seemed to be a cultured, well-educated and yes, gentle, woman. For those of us who knew her, she was a caring but tough advocate for women's issues. Dorothy was always interested and engaged in women's rights. And she put her considerable intellect and income into the service of both."
Jonas also fought for years to improve treatment for rape survivors and develop needed policy reforms to eliminate discriminatory practices. She was the longtime president of the board of the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica and founder of The Rape Foundation.
Jonas received numerous awards, from the League of Women Voters to the California Women's Law Center. She was a former chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women and a co-founder and chair of the Coalition for Family Equity in Los Angeles.
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. . . .