This morning, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement through a letter delivered to President Bush. O'Connor was the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court in 1981, and was a critical swing vote on issues of civil rights and abortion. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal says "Make no mistake about it: Sandra Day O'Connor was the fifth vote that was saving Roe v. Wade. Abortion rights and womenís rights are on the line."
Speculation about O'Connor's retirement was largely overshadowed by the possibility of Chief Justice William Rehnquist stepping down, and Rehnquist, who has been battling thyroid cancer, may still resign before the next term. His retirement would require Bush to appoint both a new justice and a new Chief Justice.
According to the Associated Press, O'Connor will step down before the start of the court's next term in October, or once the Senate confirms her successor. There has not been a vacancy on the Supreme Court since 1994 and O'Connorís retirement will give President Bush his first opportunity to appoint a member of the Supreme Court.
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. . . .