Committee Vote on UN Women’s Treaty (CEDAW) Expected Tuesday
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee delayed yesterday’s scheduled vote on US ratification of the United Nations women’s rights treaty until Tuesday. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), the ranking Republican member of the committee, requested that the vote be delayed. “We look forward to the committee’s vote to approve this important treaty,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “Due to the strong leadership of Chairman (Joseph) Biden (D-DE) and Sen. (Barbara) Boxer (D-CA), at last the women’s treaty will be out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in time for a Senate floor vote this fall.”
Ratified by 170 countries, the Convention for the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was drafted by the United Nations in 1979 to provide a standard for women’s equality and rights. The United States is the only industrialized nation that has not ratified the treaty, which means that our government is aligned with such nations as the Taliban’s Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan. While the Bush administration told the Senate six months ago that CEDAW was “generally desirable and should be approved,” Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote the committee two weeks ago to say that the administration now feels that the treaty should be studied by the Justice Department and Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was an opponent of CEDAW when he was in the Senate.
Led by Biden and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Senate committee held the first hearing in eight years on CEDAW last month. While a committee vote on the treaty was originally scheduled for last Thursday, an anonymous Republican Senator used a procedural tactic on the Senate floor to have that vote cancelled. This week’s vote was delayed per a Republican request. Tuesday’s vote is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. in the Senate Dirksen building.
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. . . .