Ecuador and Portugal became the 51st and 52nd countries to ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC) this week, joining the international community in its commitment to prosecuting the most heinous crimes against humanity. The ICC, if established, would be a permanent court designed to prosecute war criminals, genocide in addition to crimes against humanity, which include gender crimes. Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC also presents clear language defining gender crimes to include rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. Only eight countries are now needed for the ICC to be established. According to the World Federalist Association, the court is expected to become effective by next year.
The United States, however, remains one of the few Western countries not to ratify the ICC. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) has been leading the opposition to the ICC in the U.S. Helms re-introduced the American Servicemembers Protection Act, which would block U.S. cooperation in the formation of the ICC, penalize countries that ratified the ICC treaty, and allow the use of military force to prevent U.S. soldiers from being tried by the ICC. Helms is not seeking re-election in 2002.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .