International Human Rights Day, held yesterday on the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was marked yesterday by protests, rallies, and marches across the United States against plans for war against Iraq. A new coalition of groups and activists, United for Peace, organized the more than 120 events across the country. Among the more publicized events was a press conference in Los Angeles, where a dozen celebrities, including actor Martin Sheen, gathered to publicize an anti-war letter to President Bush signed by more than 100 entertainers.
In Washington, DC, more than 400 people rallied at noon, marching past the White House to urge Bush to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict with Iraq, according to the Washington Post. The National Organization for Women (NOW), one of the members of United for Peace, joined the Women’s Peace Vigil at the White House. Organized by United for Peace, CodePink, and Unreasonable Women for the Earth, the peace vigil and fast began November 17 and will continue until International Women’s Day on March 8.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, issued a statement celebrating Human Rights Day by calling for increased support for the International Criminal Court (ICC), established by the Rome Statute in July. The Bush administration has strongly opposed the ICC, going so far as to unsign the Rome Statute this year. Bush claims that the ICC could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. The ICC has widespread support in the US from groups such as the Feminist Majority because it identifies gender crimes and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which created the court, presents clear language that defines rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as gender crimes.
Media Resources: United Nations release 12/6/02; Utne Reader 12/11/02; Los Angeles Times 12/11/02; Washington Post 12/11/02; NOW release 12/10/02
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. . . .