Women Lawmakers Keep Afghan Women Funding in Supplemental
Women members of the House and Senate succeeded in their fight to keep language in the Iraq and Afghanistan Emergency Supplemental appropriations package that provides funds for programs for women and for human rights. In conference committee negotiations, some male lawmakers tried to delete $60 million designated for women's programs in the Afghanistan reconstruction package, claiming that this amount was too large of a portion of the overall $1.2 billion Afghan reconstruction package.
After contentious debate, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Mary Landreiu (D-LA), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) succeeded in keeping the funding for women's programs, along with $5 million earmarked for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, in the bill. According to the Washington Post, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) challenged her male colleagues who attempted to take out the money, asking how they could eliminate funding for the "brutalized women of Afghanistan." "It's been stripped out. Who ever heard of such a thing?" said Landreiu.
Introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the Afghan women's program funding amendment passed the House on a voice vote with bi-partisan support. The funds were authorized last year in an amendment by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to the Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002.
Women's rights, human rights, and Afghan groups have criticized the Bush Administration for shortchanging Afghanistan's reconstruction. While Congress added $400 million more to Afghanistan's reconstruction than requested by President Bush, the spending for Iraq's reconstruction is 20 times more than Iraq's despite the fact that the two countries are the same size and Afghanistan has suffered more destruction over 23 years of war.
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. . . .