Possibility of Women Voters in Groundbreaking Saudi Elections
Officials announced the new rules for Saudi Arabia's first municipal elections yesterday, stating that all citizens above the age of 21, except for military personnel, would be eligible to vote. The BBC News reports that Saudi women’s rights activists hailed these new regulations, as they leave open the possibility for women to vote, a possibility that the press had seriously doubted.
While some outsiders were concerned that the wording of the regulations used only the masculine form when referring to the people eligible to vote, an expert in constitutional law explained otherwise to the Arab News. In fact, Abdul Aziz Al-Owaisheq related that the wording of the bylaw effectively leaves voting rights open to women, as the basic law in Saudi Arabia uses the masculine form when referring to citizens in general. Journalist Nahed Bashateh told The Gulf Daily News that “As the text was left unclear on the issue, it means that decision-makers decided not to exclude women.”
The BBC News reports that the decision to possibly allow women voters is in reaction to the pressure faced by the ruling Saudi family from the international community to introduce social, political and economic reforms in the oppressive and conservative country. The Gulf News reported that the government has recently opened up some avenues for women, such as allowing them to start businesses under their own name, instead of under the name of a male relation.
The BBC News’ regional Saudi analysts doubt that women will actually be able to cast their vote in the elections when voting starts in November, as the ruling family will likely choose to prevent a powerful backlash by the religious conservatives in the country.
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. . . .