Prominent Women Discuss Issues at Stake for Women in Supreme Court Fight
Ms. magazine convened a panel of women leaders, writers, and activists to participate in a community forum today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on women's issues and the Supreme Court. The discussion coincides with the publication of Ms.’ Summer 2005 issue, which includes an urgent report on the issues at stake for women in the looming fight over the Supreme Court, including reproductive health and rights, educational opportunity and affirmative action, access to birth control for all women, and family and medical leave.
Speakers included Eleanor Smeal, publisher of Ms. magazine and president of the Feminist Majority Foundation; Dolores Huerta, co-chair of the newly formed Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation; Frank Susman, an attorney who has argued six reproductive rights cases before the Supreme Court; Ellen Chesler, author and senior fellow at the Open Society Institute; Judith DeSarno, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association; Jocelyn Frye, Director of Legal and Public Policy at the National Partnership for Women & Families; and Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms., who moderated the event.
Chesler and Susman emphasized the fact that both abortion and birth control depend on the right to privacy, pointing out that Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case giving married women the right to use birth control, provided the foundation for the right to privacy critical to Roe v. Wade, the case legalizing abortion. DeSarno also discussed the threats to family planning, including birth control, posed by a shift in the balance of the Supreme Court. Huerta emphasized the importance of access to birth control for Latina and immigrant women. Expanding the discussion beyond reproductive health, Frye discussed women’s economic and educational rights at stake in the Supreme Court debate.
Smeal led the call for a centrist woman nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, saying, “We want not only a woman, but a woman who will not close the door on the rights of women.” With the rumored decision by Chief Justice Rehnquist to also resign, Smeal pointed out that Bush could have an historic opportunity to appoint two women to the Court, which would mean women would make up one-third of the seats on the Supreme Court. However, she cautioned that the country would not, and should not, accept a candidate who does not make her or his views on critical issues known during the confirmation hearings. “We do not think Americans should permit a stealth candidacy,” said Smeal. “Too many rights of women are at stake.”
CSPAN covered the event live, and it will be re-airing the community forum several times this week.
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. . . .