U.N. Tells Afghan Factions to End Fighting, Human Rights Abuses
In a unanimous resolution issued last Friday, members of the United National Security Council ordered all Afghan factions to cease fighting, "cooperate with the aim of creating a broad-based and fully-representative government" and resume negotiations "without delay and preconditions." The resolution also condemned the Taliban's mass abuse of "large groups of the population and other forms of mass persecution," including the repression of girls and women.
The resolution was initiated by the Russian government, a long-time supporter of anti-Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan. Afghanistan's northern border neighbors the southern border of the Commonwealth of Independent States, once part of the Soviet Union.
The governments of India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, which do not have representatives in the Council, also issued their support for the resolution.
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. . . .