President Signs Afghan Women and Children Relief Act
Declaring that the future of Afghanistan hinged on “ensuring the essential rights of all Afghans,” President Bush today signed into law the Afghan Women and Children Relief Act. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal and FM Director of Policy and Research Jennifer Jackman attended the bill signing along with Afghan women leaders, women members of Congress, and First Lady Laura Bush. Speaking at the signing, the First Lady applauded the legislation, claiming that it represented the United States’ commitment to re-establishing the freedom and dignity of all Afghan women. Both the First Lady and the President reiterated the Administration’s support for restoring the full rights of women in Afghanistan, and the President commended Afghan women’s advocate Sima Wali, President and CEO of Refugee Women in Development and a Rome group delegate to the United Nations’ sponsored talks in Bonn, on her work to help create a new transitional government that includes women in leadership roles.
Introduced by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) and sponsored by every woman in the Senate, the Afghan Women and Children Relief Act authorizes the use of funds for educational and healthcare assistance for Afghan women and children living inside Afghanistan or as refugees in neighboring countries. The bill also specifies the use of Afghan women-led nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as a conduit for providing humanitarian aid.
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. . . .