House Committee Approves New Measure on Women's Military Service
The House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment yesterday that would block women from serving in new positions related to direct ground combat, unless the Army first obtained Congressional approval to place women in those roles. This amendment replaces an amendment passed by the subcommittee on military personnel last week.
In response to the nature of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has attempted to reorganize units for greater flexibility, according to the Washington Post, and some members of Congress argue that in doing so, the Army has violated a 1994 ban on women in “direct ground combat.” Last week’s amendment would have banned women in the Army from serving in “in any company-size unit that provides support to combat battalions or their subordinate companies,” which would have closed at least 21,925 jobs in the Army that are now open to women, the Post reports. This sparked an outcry from Army officials and those currently serving, as well as House Democrats.
The new amendment, which will soon move to the House floor as part of the 2006 defense authorization bill, affects all military branches and would require the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on women’s positions in the military since 1994. Representative John M. McHugh (R-NY) described the amendment as a way for Congress “to assume more proactive control over assignment policies,” reports the Post, but Democrats said that in trying to control the 1994 policy, Republicans were ignoring the fact that the policy was intended to “expand opportunities for women” and to prevent closing any positions that were open to women in the military.
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. . . .