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.
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. . . .