A prominent Afghan woman leader is one of the recipients of this year's Profile in Courage Awards from the Kennedy Library Foundation, which will be presented at a ceremony in Boston, MA tonight. Dr. Sima Samar has been a leader for women’s rights and human rights in Afghanistan. A physician who defied Taliban edicts and provided Afghan women and girls with health care services and education, she is currently the chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Samar served as Minister of Women's Affairs, one of only two women cabinet members in Afghanistan's transition government. In 2003, Samar was named a "Woman of the Year" by Ms. magazine.
Despite facing strong political opposition, including death threats from fundamentalists, Samar presses forward. As the director of the Shuhada Organization, she also runs twelve clinics and four hospitals for women and children, as well as 55 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, serving 32,000 students. Her organization's programs encompass relief work and literacy education, as well as community education regarding family planning and sanitation.
The Profiles in Courage award is named for the John F. Kennedy Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name. Recipients are selected who demonstrate political courage and a commitment to public service. Along with Dr. Samar, recipients of the award this year include former North Carolina State Representative Cindy Watson (R) and former Oklahoma State Senator Paul Muegge (D).
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .