Helms Attempts to Stop Ratification of International Criminal Court
In July 1998, 120 countries, excluding the United States, voted to adopt the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). Article 7 of the Rome Statute presents clear language defining gender crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity, and crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Under Article 7, the Taliban’s brutal gender apartheid rule, if still in existence once the court is established, would qualify as crimes against humanity and, therefore eligible to be tried before the ICC.
Currently, 139 countries have signed the Rome Statute and 30 countries have ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The U.S. may join the ICC with the signature of the President of the U.S. on the Rome Treaty and with ratification of the Treaty by 2/3 of the Senate. On December 31, 2000, former President Clinton signed the Rome Statue.
Senator Jesse Helms, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made defeating the ratification efforts for the Rome Treaty his top priority, and on May 9, 2001, Helms introduced the American Servicemembers' Protection Act, which:
· prohibits the U.S. government, state and local governments, including courts, to assist, cooperate, support the ICC or respond to requests for cooperation from the ICC to help prosecute war criminals;
· severely restricts the transfer of information to the ICC to help prosecute war criminals;
· penalizes any country that is a party to the ICC by providing no U.S. military assistance; and
· limits U.S. participation in peacekeeping missions or any military operation to maintain or restore international peace and security.
On May 10, 2001, by a vote of 282-137, the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA) passed in the House; next week the Senate will vote on the measure.
The American Servicemembers’ Protection Act sends the wrong message to those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity that the U.S., the world’s superpower, opposes a court for international justice.
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. . . .