Louisiana voters elected their first woman governor in the state's history on Saturday. Two-time Lt. Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D) beat Bobby Jindal (R) with 52 percent of the vote, scoring the only victory for Democrats in the four gubernatorial elections this year. However, Blanco is a conservative Democrat, against abortion, affirmative action, and gun control, according to the New York Times. Despite these positions, the New York Times reports that she did well among women and received 91 percent of the African American vote. Blanco replaces Republican Mike Foster, who was prevented from running again because of the state's term limits. Except for an African American Republican who served as governor for 35 days, the state has only ever had white male governors, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Blanco has been a woman of many firsts. In 1984, she became the first woman ever elected to represent Lafayette in the State Legislature, and two terms later became the first woman elected to the Louisiana Public Service Commission. She claims her work as lieutenant governor, a position that is elected independently of the governor, turned Louisiana tourism from a $6.5 billion to a $9 billion industry, the Times-Picayune reports.
The election was watched closely across the nation and in India, as Jindal looked poised to become the first American of Indian descent to be elected governor in the US. Despite influxes of cash from the Indian-American community and a crucial endorsement from the African American mayor of New Orleans, Democrat Ray Nagin, Jindal picked up the most votes in wealthy white suburbs and in his hometown of Baton Rouge, the NY Times reports. Jindal had a ten-point lead several days before the election, but lost ground after Blanco ran an ad strongly criticizing Jindal for cutting state health budgets when he was in charge of the state health department, the Times reports. Jindal also took strong stands against abortion, affirmative action, and gun control.
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. . . .