House Subcommittee Approves Ban on Women in Combat
In an effort to keep women from "direct ground combat," the House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel approved a measure to ban women from some combat support units. The legislation was proposed as an amendment to the 2006 defense authorization bill, according to the Washington Post, and would require that the Army bar women from serving “in any company-size unit that provides support to combat battalions or their subordinate companies.”
The amendment passed along party lines, 9-7, led by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter who claimed that “the American people have never wanted to have women in combat and this reaffirms this policy,” according to the Washington Times. The Army Times reports that the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, Representative Vic Snyder (AR), opposed the measure because “no reports have been brought to our attention citing evidence that having women in these roles is currently causing a problem for our military,” and the measure could block women from thousands of posts that are now open to them. Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) told the Post that with this amendment, “you are sending a message that women can’t do this job.”
The amendment passed over the objections of Army personnel. In Iraq and Afghanistan, women have engaged in battle, been killed or wounded, and the Toledo Blade reports that over 60,000 women have been deployed in support of the Iraq war since 2002. “The Army has to understand the regulation that says women’s can’t be placed in direct fire situations is archaic and not attainable,” Lt. Col. Cheri Provancha told the Post. “You can’t tell me I’m not being shot at. You can’t tell me I can’t handle combat.” The Post quotes a letter from Gen. Richard A. Cody, the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff, in which he said “the proposed amendment will cause confusion in the ranks and will send the wrong signal to the brave young men and women fighting the Global War on Terrorism.” According to the Post, Jennifer Guay, the first woman to be assigned as an infantry combat medic, emailed her thoughts on the amendment, saying “I refuse to have my right as a soldier taken from me because of my gender. It is my right to defend my country… I am well aware of the danger… Let me (us) do our job.”
Media Resources: Army Times 5/12/05; Toledo Blade 5/15/05; Washington Times 5/16/05; Washington Post 5/12/05; Washington Post 5/13/05
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. . . .