Threatened with cuts in US military assistance, nearly 50 countries-mostly small, poor nations strongly reliant on international aid-have signed immunity deals (also known as Article 98 agreements) with Washington, allowing the US to effectively bypass the International Criminal Court (ICC). Those bowing to US pressure include Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Israel, and the Philippines, among others, reported the Toronto Star. The Bush administration has strongly opposed the ICC, claiming that it could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. With the July 1 cooperation deadline (set under the American Servicemember's Protection Act) passed, nearly 50 countries-now stand to lose millions in military equipment and training, according to Reuters. NATO members and non-NATO allies, including Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Jordan, Argentina, and Bahrain have already received presidential waiver, according to Agence France Presse.
Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's International Justice program, told the Toronto Star, "The whole approach to the ICC is coloured and shaped by US exceptionalism...I think [the US sees its] role as superpower as a licence to roam the world, deploying armed forces where they see fit, and they see the court as some potential arbiter of that conduct." The ICC has widespread support in the US from groups such as the Feminist Majority because it identifies gender crimes and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which created the court, presents clear language that defines rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity as gender crimes. The United States is the only industrialized country that has not signed the treaty establishing the ICC.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
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. . . .