Along with 186 cosponsors, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the 108th Congress yesterday. With the goal of having a vote on the legislation sometime this year, Maloney introduced the ERA in order to launch a renewed effort to secure equal rights for women under the Constitution.
"The ERA is gaining momentum, and 2003 should be its year to come of age. Most Americans believe that the Constitution already makes it clear that men and women are entitled to equal rights, and when they learn it does not, nine out of ten Americans believe it should," said Congresswoman Maloney in a statement.
The ERA, written by women's rights pioneer Alice Paul, was introduced in every session of Congress from 1923 until it was approved in 1972. However, in order for the ERA to become the 28th Amendment to the US Constitution it had to then be ratified by 38 states with a ten-year deadline. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, led the drive to ratify the ERA from 1972-1982. The ERA was ratified in 35 states, just three states short.
"We must keep introducing the ERA until women win equality," Smeal said. "As the Bush administration continues to turn back the clock on women's rights, the ERA is needed now more than ever. Without a constitutional guarantee, the progress women have made over the past 30 years is endangered."
Rep. Maloney's move to reintroduce the ERA was preceded last week with another bold step forward. On the eve of International Women's Day, Maloney and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) announced legislation that would appropriate $134 million - $50 million for 2003 and $84 million for 2004 - to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Last year, President Bush withdrew $34 million in funds for UNFPA, despite Secretary of State Colin Powell's earlier endorsement of the agency's "invaluable work." The result cut 13 percent of funding for the UNFPA's international family planning programs, which would have enabled the UNFPA to prevent two million unwanted pregnancies, 4,700 maternal deaths, nearly 60,000 cases of maternal illnesses and over 77,000 cases of infant and child death. SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES SUTTON; ESTRADA DEBATE CONTINUES
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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. . . .