The total number of women US Senators rose to 14 in December, a new record, when Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) appointed his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to finish his term after being elected governor of Alaska. Lisa Murkowski, currently a Republican state representative and House majority leader, will serve through 2004, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. Murkowski leaned far to the right in his 22 years in the Senate, receiving perfect scores from such right-wing organizations as the National Rifle Association, the National Right to Life Committee, and the Christian Coalition, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. His daughter is more moderate, co-sponsoring a bill in the state legislature to cover contraceptives in health insurance programs, voting against a bill limiting state funding for abortions for poor women, and ordering a study of gender equity in the salaries of state employees, according to the News-Miner. However, the News-Miner reports that she has also indicated that she supports abortion rights only in the cases of incest, rape, or threats to the life of the mother, she is against gay marriage, and she supports opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.
Eleven women ran for US Senate seats in the 2002 midterm elections, tying the previous record in 1992. The current 14 women Senators are composed of nine Democrats and five Republicans.
Media Resources: Associated Press 12/20/02; Anchorage Daily News 12/21/02; Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 12/21/02; Congressional Quarterly 12/20/02; Center for American Women and Politics; Feminist Daily News Wire
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. . . .