Ashcroft Opts Out of Aiding Guatemalan Asylum Seeker
US Attorney General John Ashcroft will neither grant nor deny asylum to a Guatemalan woman who fled her country after ten years of abuse at the hands of her husband, including being raped, whipped with electrical cords, and threatened with death. Rodi Alvarado Pena, whose case was taken by Ashcroft two years ago, will have to wait again because Ashcroft is leaving office without making a decision on her fate, reports the Associated Press.
According to the Associated Press, women’s rights and immigration rights advocates hoped that Alvarado’s case would have led to a change in current US policy regarding asylum cases filed by victims of domestic violence. Ashcroft had blocked a proposal by former Attorney General Janet Reno that would have allowed given victims of domestic violence grounds to seek asylum, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Advocates are continuing to urge the department of Homeland Security to issue guidelines that will regard gender-based persecution as a legitimate basis for asylum.
The Department of Homeland Security has recommended that Alvarado be granted asylum, reports the Associated Press, and Department spokesperson Bill Strassberger said that if Alvarado is denied asylum, the Department “will not pursue her removal from the United States.” However, without asylum status, Alvarado cannot be reunited with her children, who are still in Guatemala.
“As the President begins his second term, we urge him to put meaning behind his words of compassion for women facing violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, by quickly granting asylum to Rodi Alvarado and other women who are seeking to escape gender-based violence,” said Esta Soler, president of the Family Violence Prevention Fund.
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. . . .