Los Angeles City Council Moves to Strengthen Rape Investigations
With the help of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women , two Los Angeles city council members have proposed a new bill that would create a local version of the federal Debbie Smith Act, which authorizes money to reduce the national backlog of untested DNA rape kits. Council members Jack Weiss and Jan Perry’s proposal to the Los Angeles City Council follows the recent revelation that thousands of untested rape-evidence kits were destroyed by the LAPD. In addition to endorsing the legislation of the Debbie Smith Act, Weiss and Perry’s bill increases local funding for DNA testing so that all rape evidence can be inventoried and tested, regardless of whether or not a suspect has been identified. Current LAPD protocol encourages detectives to only test evidence in cases where a suspect has been identified, leaving “critical evidence locked away in the LAPD’s freezers while rapists are free to assault more women,” said Weiss. Weiss and Perry’s bill will prohibit police from destroying DNA rape kits, and will mandate that all tested evidence be put through the California Cold Hit program, which matches DNA evidence with offender databases. According to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, states that use cold hit programs on DNA rape evidence are finding up to a 48% “hit rate” on other unsolved rape cases.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times, 09/21/02; Jack Weiss Press Release, 09/20/02; Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, 09/27/02
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. . . .