Feminist leaders and activists rallied in Tennessee over the weekend declaring a state of emergency for women's rights with the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In the midst of the National Organization for Women’s (NOW) national conference, the announcement of O’Connor’s resignation changed the agenda dramatically.
Activists marched on the Tennessee state capitol, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-TN) home territory, chanting, “We Won’t Go Back” and “Keep Abortion and Birth Control Legal.” Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal said, "We have to raise such a loud voice that Senator Bill Frist hears it. We have to make sure that this majority leader knows he cannot turn back the clock on women's rights.” NOW President Kim Gandy, who was reelected by a 2-1 margin on Saturday, said that “Sandra Day O'Connor broke down barriers for women as the first female Supreme Court justice — and George W. Bush will try to replace her with a hard-right extremist justice who will put those barriers up again.”
At the rally, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, a former US Senator and 2004 presidential candidate, told the crowd that "Ronald Reagan gave us Sandra Day O'Connor and she became a moderate that kept balance in the courts. George Bush can do no less. We demand no less. Never underestimate the power of a woman." O’Connor was the critical fifth vote in support of affirmative action and abortion rights.
Rally speakers included Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and a Feminist Majority board member, who rallied the crowd chanting, “Si se Puede, Yes We Can” demand that President Bush nominate a judge who will uphold women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights. Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, joined with the other national leaders in calling for a woman nominee. Alicia Daly, associate publisher of Ms. magazine, and Allendra Letsome, a member of NOW’s Young Feminist Task Force, spoke about what younger women have at stake in the fight over the Supreme Court. “This is our generation's fight,” said Daly. “We grew up with Roe v. Wade. We are not going to stand back and let these rights be taken away from us.”
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. . . .