20-Year Anti-Women’s Rights Record Disqualifies Ashcroft
WASHINGTON, DC – John Ashcroft is a totally anti-choice, anti-women’s rights nomination for Attorney General. Not only did Ashcroft staunchly oppose the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), as Missouri’s Attorney General he filed suit against the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1979. Ashcroft charged NOW with anti-trust violations and attempted to break the ERA convention boycott of unratified states. “John Ashcroft has been an ardent opponent of women’s rights for over 20 years,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority and former NOW President during the Ashcroft anti-ERA lawsuit. “His willingness to stretch the law and use Missouri tax dollars to launch a three-year unsuccessful fight against NOW and the ERA all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court foreshadows how far he will go to fight and deny women’s rights,” added Smeal. “His utter lack of understanding of freedom of political speech and the right to take political action to achieve social justice exemplifies a track record where his right-wing ideology prevails over his legal judgment.”
“President-elect Bush promised to be a uniter and not a divider, yet Ashcroft’s opposition to legal abortion even in cases of rape and incest places him on the extreme edge of the far right that opposes all women’s rights advances,” said Smeal. As a U.S. Senator, Ashcroft did not support an amendment to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1999 that would have prohibited anti-abortion extremists from using bankruptcy to discharge civil judgments against them for illegal anti-abortion activities. “Ashcroft’s position undermines a critical enforcement mechanism of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), which the Attorney General is chiefly responsible for enforcing,” continued Smeal.
In addition to his widely reported commencement address to, and honorary degree from, Bob Jones University, Ashcroft’s civil rights record falls far short of what must be demanded of a 21st Century Attorney General. In 1989 former President George Bush appointed Ashcroft to a federal commission to study the obstacles faced by minorities in America. Ashcroft was one of only two people on the 40-member panel who refused to sign the final report. He thought the report’s findings of discrimination were far too negative and “counterproductive.”
“The Attorney General must be able to recognize injustices in our society and work to remedy them – he must neither rationalize, justify, nor run away from them,” said Smeal. “How can an Attorney General that believes Southern Partisan is setting the record straight be able to lead in the enforcement of civil rights and women’s rights laws?” questioned Smeal.
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. . . .