President Bush’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics released its report on Title IX yesterday to the Department of Education. Making an impassioned defense of Title IX, two of the Commissioners, Julie Foudy and Donna de Varona, released a Minority Report that challenges the process, findings, recommendations, and conclusions of the Commission's Majority Report.
The Minority Report was necessary, Foudy and de Varona wrote, because they believe that “many of the recommendations made by the majority would seriously weaken Title IX's protections and substantially reduce the opportunities to which women and girls are entitled under current law.” In addition, they wrote, “only one of the proposals [of the 24 put forth by the Commission's Majority Report] would address the budgetary causes underlying the discontinuation of some men's teams."
The Minority Report specifically criticized recommendations in the Majority Report that would allow schools to not count certain playing athletes in the calculation of how many sports opportunities men and women receive, as well as recommendations that would allow schools to give 47 percent of their participation opportunities to women regardless of how many women were in their undergraduate population. The Minority Report also faults the Majority for encouraging the use of "interest surveys" which would require women to prove they were interested in sports before being given the opportunity to play. As the Minority Report said, "interest and ability rarely develop in a vacuum; they evolve as a function of opportunity and experience."
Foudy and de Varona released their report at a press conference yesterday in Washington, DC, joined by women athletes as well as Democratic Senators Tom Daschle (SD), Edward Kennedy (MA), and Patty Murray (WA). “Not all girls and boys will be Olympic champions,” said Murray, “but all of them should have the chance to work together, do their best, and be proud of their abilities.”
In a surprise announcement yesterday, Secretary of Education Ronald Paige, who refused to include the Minority Report in the official Majority Report, stated that he would only act on those recommendations in the Majority Report that received unanimous approval. However, as the Minority Report notes, some of the proposals that passed unanimously were not fully discussed, and upon further review, could have significant detrimental effects on participation opportunities for women and girls. For example, one recommendation suggests that the Department of Education consider on its own other ways of showing Title IX compliance. This enormous loophole could be used to introduce all of the recommendations that the Secretary claims he will not consider.
Media Resources: Minority Report; Associated Press 2/26/03; Feminist Majority Foundation
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. . . .