Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), one of the most outspoken advocates of military sexual assault victims in congress, introduced the amendment. Its passing will result in $65 million allocated to the cause of identifying victims who were dismissed after illegitimate psychological evaluations and further reviewing their records of discharge. Speier's amendment passed by voice vote, along with another amendment to the appropriations bill that sets aside $10 million in order to further train the military's criminal investigators. Both amendments seek to address the problems recently raised by military sexual assault victims that pertain to the conflicting interests that exist when reporting sexual assault crimes within the military chain of command.
According to a recent investigative report, victims who report sexual assaults to their commanders are often subject to biased psychological evaluations that can likely result in their discharge from the military. This focus on mental health cases is an important first step in addressing the epidemic of military sexual assault. "Mental-health diagnoses are rampantly misused to administratively discharge or retaliate against survivors of sexual assault," Rep. Speier emphasized yesterday. "These dismissals are like scarlet letters, pinned where medals should be."
Media Resources: Houston Chronicle 7/24/13; Feminist Newswire 4/17/13; Military Times 7/24/13; San Antonio Express-News 7/25/13; San Francisco Chronicle 7/24/13
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .