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.
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. . . .