Women Banned From Army Ground Reconnaissance Units
Eight female soldiers training to perform ground sweeps in the mountains of Afghanistan were removed from their Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition squadrons, an Army spokeswoman announced yesterday. The female soldiers were reassigned after the implementation of a Pentagon mandate forbidding women from participating in ground reconnaissance units, a reversal of a Clinton administration policy that made these units open to women. The mandate came despite an earlier Army announcement that it had no plans to change the units’ mixed-sex status, according to the Washington Times.
The ban also comes in the wake of another troubling Bush Administration change that may limit the role of women in the military. In March, the Pentagon fired all members of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) and rewrote the charter for the 51-year-old committee severely restricting its role and forbidding independent site visits to military installations. While a new committee is currently being put together, no commitment has been made to ensure that women are adequately represented on the panel.
The destruction of the panel is even more disturbing as a federal district court struck down the Army’s promotional affirmative action policy this year. Despite 1997 figures that show women make up a mere 14 percent of Army personnel, the policy was deemed to unfairly favor women and minorities, according to the judge. A DACOWITS report in 1997 found that the practice of male commanders denying women leadership positions and assigning them to desk duty was “widespread.” At some bases, women were “openly demeaned and their roles in the military ridiculed.”
Media Resources: Washington Times, 5/30/02; Feminist Majority Report, Spring 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. . . .