Ashcroft to Review Gender-Based Violence as Basis for Asylum
Attorney General John Ashcroft is reconsidering a case that could have far-reaching implications for using gender-based persecution and violence as a basis for granting asylum to refugees, according to the Los Angeles Times. Though officials insist that nothing has been decided, women’s and human rights groups are worried that the Attorney General intends to limit women’s ability to flee domestic abuse, sexual violence, honor killings, and other gender-related abuses.
The case Ashcroft is reviewing is that of a Guatemalan woman, Rodi Alvadaro, who fled her country after ten years of abuse at the hands of her husband, including being raped, whipped with electrical cords, and threatened with death, according to the Washington Post. Alvarado was granted political asylum in 1996, which was then challenged by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and repealed by the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in 1999, the Post reports. The INS did not challenge the veracity of Alvarado’s story of abuse or her claims that Guatemalan authorities repeatedly refused to protect her from her husband—rather, the INS argued that domestic abuse did not qualify her for political asylum, according to the Post.
Under President Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno proposed regulations allowing gender-based human rights abuses to serve as a basis for asylum; however, the regulations were never finalized. Now Ashcroft has taken it upon himself to decide not only Alvarado’s appeal but also the fate of gender-based political asylum. The Post also reports that five members of the BIA, all Clinton appointees, have been notified they are being dropped from the board as part of an overall reduction in the board’s size. Three of the five voted in favor of Alvarado’s asylum request.
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. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .