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
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .