Afghanistan: Constitution in the Works, Fighting Persists
An eight-member committee created last October to write a new constitution for Afghanistan submitted a draft last week to President Hamid Karzai, reported the Associated Press. While details have yet to be disclosed, the general framework is expected to be based on the 1964 Constitution, incorporate some elements of sharia (Islamic law), and resemble an Islamic democracy with a strong president and weaker parliament—all with terms lasting four to five years.
A president-appointed 30-member commission will gather “public” comment from select Afghans including professors, elders, and religious leaders. Already, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and Ministry of Women’s Affairs have made several recommendations to the commission to improve the status of women, including provisions to guarantee women’s rights, give women full citizenship, increase the age for marriage, and implement compulsory education for girls and boys. In addition, the institutions are urging that the constitution serve as the law of the land, above custom or local rule. The loya Jirga will debate the final draft in October.
Meanwhile, security remains an issue throughout Afghanistan. Last month, two US soldiers were killed when Taliban fighters attacked their convoy. Khalid Pashtoon, spokesman for Gov. Gul Agha Shirzai (Kandahar) told the Washington Post, “The last few weeks the situation in Kandahar was getting worse day by day… The increase in violent incidents started five months ago, but became more common after [the start of] the Iraq war.” Last Sunday, Islamic extremists, under the leadership of former Afghan premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are suspected of launching the rocket attack on International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul, according to Agence France Presse. The Feminist Majority has been leading the call for ISAF expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.
When command of ISAF in Afghanistan transferred from Turkey to Germany and the Netherlands in February, German Defense Minister Peter Struck called for NATO to assume larger responsibility for peacekeeping after their six-month command term. This week, the 19 NATO members asked military planners to consider the issue, with the alliance taking charge of the 4,000-person peacekeeping force.
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. . . .