IL Gov. Signs Laws Clarifying Rape, Requiring Contraceptives Coverage
Late last month Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) signed a law clarifying rape as any situation where someone continues to have intercourse after the partner asks to stop. Introduced by state Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac), the law-prompted by a three-year California court case charging a 17-year-old boy with rape for continuing sex after the 17-year-old girl asked to stop-passed the state legislature last spring and is believed to be the first such law in the country, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Polly Poskin applauded the new law, telling the Sun-Times, "This will be very helpful in acquaintance rape cases... Just because it's he-said, she-said, just because they knew each other, just because she may have consented initially, if at any point she objects and he forcefully continues, it's now a crime in the state of Illinois."
Also last month, Gov. Blagojevich signed HB 211 into law, making Illinois the 21st state to require insurance coverage of prescription contraceptives. Though the new law-effective January 1-excludes abortions, sterilizations, and does not apply to employers philosophically opposed to birth control (e.g. Catholic Church), supporters including Rep. Ricca Slone (D-Peoria Heights) praised the move, insisting "... if we want to encourage women to take control of their reproductive lives and make responsible decisions about whether they're going to have children or not, this is something they need to have access to," reported the Peoria Journal Star.
With the price of birth control pills estimated at $30 a month plus doctor's fees, studies show that women of reproductive age spend about two-thirds more than men on out-of-pocket healthcare costs, according to an ABC News report. Meanwhile, more than half of Viagra prescriptions received health insurance coverage just weeks after the anti-impotence drug hit US markets, ABC News reports.
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .