Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), the ultraconservative politician famous for his 30-year assault on women’s rights, announced his retirement today, effective at the end of his 2003 term. Throughout his tenure, Helms orchestrated several major rollbacks against women’s rights, including the 1973 ban on U.S funds to international organizations offering abortions. His most recent attacks have included attempts to defund colleges and universities offering emergency contraception to students and attempts to strip US aid to the U.N. Population Fund.
Through his position as the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Helms has single-handedly held up floor consideration for several years of the U.N. treaty on gender discrimination, the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). He is also spearheading efforts to scuttle U.S. ratification of an International Criminal Court, which would deal with crimes against humanity, such as genocide, rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced sterilization, forced pregnancy, and other forms of sexual violence.
Media Resources: Washington Post 8/21/01; Feminist News Archives
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. . . .