Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Newsday Tuesday: July 14 Edition

So much news, so little time! We have been super busy here gearing up for the launch of the newly re-designed Feminist Majority Foundation site feminist.org. Look for upcoming announcements on the official launch of the site and other information!

So let's get to it. Here is your wrap up of the latest feminist news for this week.

The big news in the office this week are Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings for the US Supreme Court. The hearings began Monday which were dominated by the Senate Judiciary Committee's opening statements. Sotomayor made a brief introductory statement at the close of the proceedings.

Sex Education
Friday, the House Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education eliminated traditional sources of funding for abstinence-only programs by passing an appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010. Abstinence-only education has been found to be very ineffective through many studies including the latest in June from the American Medical Association that found abstinence-only sex programs do not result in reduced sexual activity among teens.

Emergency Contraception
The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by US District Court in Seattle this week. Pharmacists in Washington must now dispense the emergency contraception medication Plan-B, even if they have personal religious objections to the medication.

The US FDA has approved a single-pill version of the two-pill dose Plan-B emergency contraceptive, called Plan-B One Step.

Federal Appointments
President Obama announced on Monday his appointment of Regina Benjamin, MD to the position of surgeon general. Dr. Benjamin, a family physician, served local residents through Hurricanes George and Katrina. Her clinic treats patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Afghanistan's Justice Ministry released a revision of the controversial Shia law that legalized rape within marriage, among others last Wednesday. The new version bans men of demanding sex from their wives and that no longer requires women to ask their husbands' permission to leave their home.

The United Nations Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, urged Afghan leaders to fight violence against women where he announced a new UN report called "Silence is Violence." The report combats the idea that women's rights are a luxury and focuses on both sexual violence and violence that inhibits women's societal participation.

Three Irish women are challenging Ireland's abortion ban in the European Court of Human Rights. Ireland's laws prevent abortion in almost every circumstance except when a woman’s life is in jeopardy. Of the over 7,000 Irish women yearly that have abortions, the current laws force women to travel outside the country to obtain such services.

US Federal Matters
Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against the federal government on Wednesday, challenging the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

The NIH issued new regulations Monday that ease restrictions on stem cell research. The new guidelines allow the use of embryonic stem cells that have been discarded from in-vitro fertilization procedures if researchers can prove their methods are ethical and scientifically worthy and also allow for study of existing stem cell lines after approval.

The number of homeless female veterans has doubled in the past decade, even though the overall number of homeless veterans has decreased. In an effort to combat homelessness for soldiers, HUD and the VA last month announced the allocation of $75 million to provide rental housing and support for homeless veterans.

Friday, the US 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Massachusetts law, allowing a 35-foot safety buffer zone between protestors and abortion clinic entrances. The Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that the law does not infringe on protestors' free speech rights and applies to all protestors no matter their viewpoint.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the foreign aid appropriations bill Thursday that would permanently ban the Global Gag Rule. This amendment stipulates that foreign NGOs must not be prevented from receiving US aid on the basis of providing abortion services to women.

Photo courtesy of Jay Tamboli on Flikr

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