On Monday, Mexico City legislators approved a law giving same-sex couples full marriage rights, Reuters reported Dec. 22. In a last minute measure, the city’s left-dominated assembly overcame conservative opposition to also allow gay couples that marry to adopt children.
"We are putting an end to segregation and stigmatization of a sector of society, giving access to full marriage rights," David Razu, a legislator from the Social Democratic Party who promoted the law, told Reuters.
The legislation extends further than a 2006 city law that allowed civil unions by giving same-sex couples access to the same family social security benefits and joint loans as heterosexual couples. The bill now goes to be signed by Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard.
More News to Cheer This Week:
- An army general in Iraq backed down from his threat to court martial female soldiers who get pregnant, ABC News.com reported Dec. 22. According to the Nov. 4 general order of Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo III, a commander in northern Iraq, pregnancy among troops in Iraq would be considered an offense punishable by court martial. Under the order, female soldiers who become pregnant and the male soldiers who impregnate them would be punished, even if the couple is married. The pregnancy policy is just one provision in a larger general order that prohibits soldiers from sexual contact with Iraqis or third-party nationals who are not members of coalition forces.
A French parliamentarian said Tuesday he would file legislation to bar Muslim women from wearing veils that hide their faces in public, The Associated Press reported Dec. 22.
President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that burka-like veils are "not welcome" in France. Lawmaker Jean-Francois Cope, head of the president’s Union for a Popular Movement party, said he wants the veil banned not just from public buildings but also in the streets of France.
Muslim leaders and secular experts have told the panel that a full ban could stigmatize all Muslims and would pose enforcement problems. Cope suggested a fine could be levied against anyone breaking the ban.
A parliamentary panel has been gathering information on the subject to release in a nonbinding report expected next month. In 2004, France banned Muslim headscarves from classrooms after a lengthy parliamentary debate.
More News to Jeer This Week:
- Women who received the "birth control shot" lost at least 5 percent of their bone density in the hip and lower spine within two years, according to a study, ScienceDaily reported Dec. 22. The Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch did a two-year study of 95 women who had an injection of Depo-Provera. Forty-five of the women had a decrease in bone mineral density in their lower backs and hips. Women who were smokers, who had never given birth and who didn’t consume much calcium were at highest risk. Twenty-seven of these high-risk women continued to experience significant losses in the third year of injection use. More than two million U.S. women use the injected contraceptive, including approximately 400,000 teens, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The study is in the January issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
- Moms employed as scientists or custodians may be at greater risk for having children with birth defects than mothers with other occupations, ABC News.com reported Dec. 22. Mothers working as janitors had an increased risk of having a child with conditions such as ear and eye defects and oral clefts, according to an analysis done by the New York State Department of Health. Women working as scientists, notably, had babies with heart defects. Researchers analyzed 8, 977 mothers of children with birth defects and 3,833 healthy controls from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. The study was published online in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal.
- The Senate passed the health care bill Thursday by a 60-39 vote, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 24. Negotiations will now begin to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, and the abortion issue may prove to be a point of contention, according to U.S. News and World Report. The House bill is more stringent, prohibiting coverage of abortion by any federally subsidized health plan. The Senate version would allow health plans to cover abortion, but only by segregating funds and requiring people to pay a separate premium for abortion coverage, according to U.S. News and World Report. Much criticism is aimed at pro-choice Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, who took a leadership role in negotiations over the final bill, McClatchy newspapers reported Dec. 23. She decided to accept the anti-abortion language only when it became apparent that the bill would not pass without it. Republicans say the bill will impose massive regulatory and financial burdens on taxpayers and businesses and will dig the government deeper into debt.
- Oklahoma Judge Daniel Owens placed a temporary restraining order until Feb. 19 on legislation that would require women seeking abortions to complete a 10-page questionnaire before having a legal abortion, Examiner.com reported Dec. 21. The questionnaire would require women to provide their age, marital status, race, years of education and details on why she wants an abortion. Opponents of this law say the highly personal questions are "an unprecedented violation of privacy and create unnecessary obstacles for physicians and their patients in an attempt to eliminate access to abortion."
- Mothers who don’t breastfeed are more likely to have heart problems later in life than mothers who choose to breastfeed, according to research, ABC News.com reported. Research found that 17 percent of women who breastfed had calcium build-up in their arteries compared to 32 percent of women who didn’t breastfeed. The University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Health Care studied nearly 300 women, aged 45 to 58 years old, who had never been diagnosed with or had known symptoms of heart disease. The researchers found that mothers who didn’t breastfeed were more likely to have clogged arteries, which can reduce blood flow and eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke. Results of the study will be published in the January issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
- Pregnant women involved in a traffic accident do not have an increased risk of pregnancy complications due to the impact of the airbag, according to a study, Reuters reported Dec. 22. Researchers from the University of Washington School of Public Health analyzed data on 3,348 collisions involving pregnant women in Washington State between 2002 and 2005. Fetal death in accidents involving an airbag was at a higher rate of 1 percent, compared to 0.3 percent of accidents without airbag deployment. Researchers found that nearly 16 percent of women whose accidents involved an airbag had preterm deliveries, compared to 10 percent of women in crashes where no airbag was deployed. Nearly 33,000 pregnant U.S. women are involved in car crashes each year. These accidents are a leading cause of fetal death.
Kimberly St. Louis is an editorial intern at Women’s eNews through the New York Arts Program. She is a senior at Ohio Wesleyan University studying journalism and politics and government.