Dems Question Ashcroft’s Ability to Enforce All Laws
The Senate confirmation hearing in John Ashcroft’s bid for Attorney General continues today, with protestors again crowded outside the Russell Senate building, opposing the nomination of this anti-choice, anti-woman, anti-civil rights politician. At yesterday’s hearing, Ashcroft faced a barrage of questions from Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) regarding Ashcroft’s poor record on civil rights. Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questioned Ashcroft on his commitment to upholding Roe v. Wade and the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). When Feinstein asked whether Ashcroft would prioritize investigating and prosecuting cases of violence against abortion clinics and staff, Ashcroft hesitated before giving his answer, saying that he would uphold the law as it stands. He did not testify as to what he would actively pursue as attorney general in regards to clinic violence and abortion rights.
Yesterday, several Democratic Senators expressed concern over Ashcroft’s ability to enforce laws that conflicted with his personal and religious views, despite the fact that Ashcroft argued that, as Governor and as Attorney General of Missouri, he did uphold laws on abortion. Ashcroft’s voting record on abortion is overwhelmingly anti-choice; he is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, and is opposed to most forms of contraception. He has repeatedly used his political position to further an extremist conservative view.
Yesterday, New York Senator Charles Schumer asked, “When you have been such a zealous and impassioned advocate for so long, how do you just turn it off? This may be an impossible task.” Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) stressed that the hearing would focus not on Ashcroft’s beliefs alone, but on how his beliefs would color the choices he will have to make as attorney general. “We will want to know what changes he will seek in the constitutional rights that Americans currently enjoy. These include what positions he would urge upon the Supreme Court; in particular, whether he’d ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade or to impose more burdensome restrictions on a woman’s ability to secure safe and legal contraceptives,” Leahy said.
Scheduled to testify today is Ronnie White, a black, pro-choice nominee for the Missouri Supreme Court. Ashcroft vehemently opposed his confirmation.
Media Resources: Transcript of Confirmation Hearing, eMediaMill Works and Associated Press and Washington Post - January 17, 2001 and C-SPAN Live Broadcast
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. . . .