Pelosi Elected First Woman to Lead Either Party in Congress
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today became the highest-ranking woman in Congress when she was elected as the House Minority Leader, the first woman and the first Californian to lead either party. Pelosi tops herself in this new position—she had previously become the highest-ranking woman in Congress when she was elected House Minority Whip last year. Richard Gephardt, the former Minority Leader, did not seek reelection this term in what is widely regarded as his preparation to run for President in 2004.
Pelosi beat her closest competitor, the more conservative Harold Ford of Tennessee, by a wide margin of 177-28, MSNBC reported. Her election indicates a willingness by the Democratic Party to challenge Bush’s policies in Congress more strenuously. At a press conference announcing her victory, Pelosi stressed that “We will try to work with Republicans. Where we cannot, we will put up a fight.”
At the press conference, when a reporter interrupted her statement, Pelosi flashed her signature smile and said, “I’m not finished. I’ve been waiting over 200 years for this.” Later she underscored the importance of her election historically by saying, “I didn’t run as a woman, I ran as a seasoned politician and legislator and it just so happens that I am a woman. We have been waiting a long time for this moment.”
Pelosi is a longtime friend of the feminist movement, and her election will surely be a boost for women’s rights in Congress. Pelosi remains staunchly pro-choice and has a strong women’s rights voting record. Her focus in the House has been on international family planning, AIDS prevention, human rights in China, and environmental causes. She is also the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Pelosi, who hails from Baltimore, represents the 8th Congressional District in California where she has been active in politics since the 1970s.
House Republicans are considering electing Deborah Pryce of Ohio to the party’s fourth-highest spot in the House, in a move intended to counter Pelosi’s election, according to the Washington Times. Pryce, a former judge, was the sponsor of the House’s problematic welfare reauthorization bill earlier this year. The bill increases work requirements, promotes marriage in a way that is coercive and an invasion of privacy, offers less childcare support, and imposes abstinence-only sexual education on welfare recipients, according to the National Organization for Women.
Media Resources: MSNBC 11/14/02; San Francisco Chronicle 11/14/02; New York Times 11/14/02; Washington Post 11/14/02; Washington Times 11/13/02; NOW June 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. . . .