O’Connor Retires; Court to Revisit Clinic Safety

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(WOMENSENEWS)–Noted: Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, announced her resignation on Friday after 24 years of service. She will most likely be remembered as the consensus builder on the court who was a stalwart defender of women’s right to abortion if the pregnancy endangered her health.

Her departure is expected to set off a passionate ideological battle over the confirmation of her successor to be appointed by President Bush.

“It makes me nervous,” C. Boyden Gray told the New York Times. Gray is a former White House counsel who founded the Committee for Justice, one of the key advocacy groups set to back whoever the president nominates. “I’m not sure we are prepared for an O’Connor vacancy.”

Justice O’Connor said in a letter to the White House that she would step down as soon as her successor is named. Women’s eNews will provide full coverage of O’Connor’s decision on Sunday.

Cheers:

The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood Federation of America won the case against Idaho’s third attempt at restricting teens’ access to abortion, according to a press release Friday from the organizations. The organizations argued that the proposed law would have compromised the confidentiality of teens under 18 who need emergency abortions and cannot provide written consent of parents or a court waiver for the procedure.

Other Things to Cheer About This Week:

  • U.S. Muslim groups urged followers to make mosques more open to women in a booklet published online and distributed to mosques, reported Reuters on Wednesday. The booklet suggests that women pray with men in the main hall and at least two women hold positions on every mosque governing board. “You cannot be a healthy community with women excluded,” said Hesham Hassballa, a spokesman for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. Written by the Islamic Social Services Associations Inc. and Women in Islam Inc., the booklet repeatedly quotes the Koran on women’s rights and says that mosques are centers of community life where “all were welcome.”
  • Ogonna Nnamani, a member of the 2004 U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball Team and a student at California’s Stanford University, was named the Collegiate Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, a press release said. Nnamani, winner of the 29th annual Honda-Broderick Cup, is sixth in all-time NCAA rankings for career kills and is majoring in Biology and Chemistry.
  • The last of three cases accusing Bahraini women’s rights activist Ghada Jamsheer of defamation was dismissed for lack of merit, reported Khaleej Times on Thursday. Jamsheer, head of the Women’s Petition Committee, was charged under provisions of the Penal Code of 1976, which have been largely condemned for suppressing public criticism of the government.
  • Tougher assault laws and 434 additional courts to tackle gender abuses cases became effective Wednesday across Spain, reported Spanish newspaper El Pais. The Law against Gender Violence calls for harsher sentences for men guilty of abusing their spouses.
  • The number of female entrepreneurs in Canada has increased 3.3 percent annually since 1989, reported Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail on Tuesday. The study by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce predicts that a million Canadian women will own small businesses by 2010.
  • An organization led by Dr. Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, member of the Swiss Parliament and of the Council of Europe, has nominated 1000 women, dedicated to peace and justice, from more than 150 countries for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005. She believes they should receive the prestigious award as a group.

For more information:

Council on American-Islamic Relations–
Women Friendly Mosques and Community Centers: Working Together to Reclaim Our Heritage :
http://www.cair-net.org/pdf/intro.pdf
– and –
http://www.cair-net.org/pdf/text.pdf

Amnesty International–
Justice and Accountability: Stop Violence Against Women:
http://www.amnesty.ie/content/view/full/3969/

United Nations Population Fund–
Reducing Poverty and Achieving the Millenium Development Goals:
Arguments for Investing in Reproductive Health and Rights :
http://www.unfpa.org/upload/lib_pub_file/448_filename_ReducingPoverty05.pdf

HealthGrade–
Women’s Health Outcomes in U.S. Hospitals:
http://www.healthgrades.com/media/DMS/pdf/WomensHealthStudy2005Final.pdf

Note: Women’s eNews is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites and the contents of site the link points to may change.


Jeers:

The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it would reconsider a dispute between the National Organization for Women and anti-abortion rights protesters, the Los Angeles Times reports. The question is whether NOW can sue the protesters for attempting to shut down abortion clinics under the federal antiracketeering law, the story reports. NOW obtained a nationwide injunction against aggressive anti-abortion rights protesters seven years ago to stop violent attacks on health clinics

Other Things to Jeer About This Week:

  • The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that local governments cannot be held accountable if their police departments do not protect a person from harm. The 7-2 decision overturned a ruling by a federal appeals court in Colorado that had permitted a woman to proceed with a lawsuit against the Colorado town of Castle Rock after local police failed to respond to her pleas for help when her husband violated a restraining order and kidnapped their three daughters. He later killed them. The ruling came as a blow to victims of domestic violence, who rely on police to enforce protective orders against violent or potentially violent offenders. “This is a terribly damaging ruling that may result in more family violence victims living in terror, and more domestic violence injuries and deaths,” said Esta Soler, president of the Family Violence Prevention Fund in San Francisco.
  • The nation’s doctors are not informing women about the link between a common sexually transmitted disease and cervical cancer, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. The survey found that 88 percent of women rely on their health care providers to learn about gynecological issues, but only 19 percent said their doctor had told them that the human papillomavirus can cause cervical cancer.
  • 300,000 women in Britain lose jobs because of their pregnancy and almost half of all pregnant women face discrimination each year, a study by the nation’s Equal Opportunity Commission indicated, Reuters reported on Thursday. The study also found that 7 out of 10 women treated unfairly in the workplace did not speak out.
  • “Quality chasm” in treatment of cardiac disease and stroke in women exists between best-performing and poorest-performing hospitals, according to a press release on Monday from a HealthGrades study. The healthcare ratings organization found that overall women’s survival rates increased in the last three years by 11 percent but the difference in outcomes between facilities was dramatic.
  • The Irish government ignores widespread violence against women in the country, according to a study released Wednesday by Amnesty International. The report, Justice and Accountability: Stop Violence Against Women, found that one in four women in Ireland experience sexual abuse and at least one in five women experience systematic violence from a partner.
  • Imrana, the woman raped by her father-in-law in India, was ordered Wednesday to separate from her husband by the county chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who supported the verdict made earlier by Muslim religious groups, reported Times of India. The decision orders Imrana to leave her husband to preserve the sacred “father-and-son” relationship.
  • Moves to ordain female bishops are in jeopardy after 17 senior bishops issued a public statement warning the Church of England that female participation would be divisive, reported London Times Online. If the Church approves of female bishops after the scheduled debate at the synod, women would be ordained no earlier than Easter 2010.

–Allison Stevens contributed to this report.

Kamelia Angelova, an intern at Women’s eNews and a freelance reporter based in New York City, studies Journalism and Political Science at Hunter College. Allison Stevens is Washington Bureau Chief at Women’s eNews.


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