U.S. Women to Rally April 7; Libyan Lawyer Missing

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(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

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Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and 20-plus other organizations will hold a Stand Up for Women’s Health rally April 7 at the U.S. Capitol, stated a press release March 31. NARAL Pro-Choice America’s fundraising event March 28 raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for what Nancy Keenan, the group’s president, called "the fight of our lives."

Backgrounder on Health Rally

As the deal-making pressure mounts in Washington over the budget, so do questions about what senators will do about federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

In February the GOP-dominated House of Representatives passed a spending-bill amendment by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., that eliminated all funding to Planned Parenthood. Now it’s up to the Senate and House lawmakers to determine the outcome.

"Pence and social conservatives are still pushing forward so it’s a serious threat," Planned Parenthood spokesperson Tait Sye told Women’s eNews March 31.

The likelihood of a complete defunding of Planned Parenthood or other Title X programs–those that receive federal money to offer family planning services–is up in the air, said Judy Waxman of the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C.

"The Republicans zeroed out this program, the president kept it at level funding," she said. Though she assumes there may be some cuts to those programs when Congress completes its negotiations, she said it was impossible to gauge the depth of the cuts or whether legislators are close to a consensus.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, are examples of senators who have crossed the aisle in support of Planned Parenthood.  Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has also shown support for the organization in the past.

The April 8 deadline for the expiration of federal spending authority is expected to force lawmakers to reach a budget compromise to avert a federal government shutdown in coming days. Cuts of around $33 billion are considered likely, according to a March 31 report from the New York Times.

Since fears of a funding cut emerged in February, Planned Parenthood has seen a groundswell of support, with over 807,000 people signing an online petition on its Web site and stepped up lobbying efforts as legislators, lobbyists and action groups attacked the organization and federally funded family planning organizations in general.

For more on the budget debate, check out this New York Times piece and see a story from the WeNews archive regarding Title X and Planned Parenthood.

— Karsten Strauss

More News to Cheer This Week:

The federal and state governments took several female-friendly steps this week:

  • The Maryland House approved a bill March 26 allowing women who are at or below the 200 percent poverty level to receive Medicaid family planning services, reported the CBS Baltimore.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced legislation that requires the Department of Defense to create a system for storing and retaining digital records in all military cases of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment, applauded the Service Women’s Action Network March 28.
    • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on March 28 hailed a draft Senate resolution backing the rights of women in the Arab world as the region is swept by political upheavals, reported AFP.

    • Welsh women and girls as young as 13 have gained access to the morning-after pill for free without a prescription beginning April 1, reported AP.

    • Hollaback! launched local Web sites in 13 cities on April 1, offering blogs with local maps on street harassment, expanding the growing program to 25 locations.

    • Germany‘s leading industrial companies have pledged to recruit and promote more women, especially in top management jobs, according to a March 30 report by the Associated Press.

    • Lynn Tilton, founder and CEO of Patriarch Partners, LLC, was honored with the Luminary Award, reported Businesswire March 29.

    • The United Nations plans to send 73 million condoms to Kenya after the media released images of men in a rural area washing condoms to re-use, reported the Standard March 29.

    • Seven women filed a discrimination lawsuit March 31 against the Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel in New Jersey after they fired 15 middle-age cocktail waitresses because they did not fit the image for the new flapper-themed uniforms, reported the Daily News April 1.

    • Maine Sen. Susan Collins and New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney announced March 30 that they’re reintroducing legislation in Congress to create a National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C., after an earlier effort expired in the Senate, reported The Washington Post.

     


     

    Jeers

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    Amnesty International has called for the release of Eman al-Obaidi, the young Libyan lawyer who made international headlines by entering a Tripoli hotel on March 26 and telling a gathering of Western journalists that Moammar Gadhafi’s government forces had raped her. With cameras rolling, al-Obaidi was forcibly taken out of the hotel and she hasn’t been seen since.  It is believed she is being held and pressured to withdraw her accusations. The men accused of raping al-Obaidi have filed counter charges against her for slander, reported CNN March 29.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • State abortion bills moved forward across the country in . . .
  • Last week, South Dakota also became the first state to require women seeking an abortion to visit anti-abortion counseling centers, reported The Christian Science Monitor. South Dakota may end up paying Planned Parenthood if this goes to court, like previous lawsuits in which the state has paid the group $625,000, reported the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D., March 28.
  • Meanwhile Indiana state Rep. Eric Turner argued March 31 that there should be no loopholes in the state’s abortions laws for victims of rape or incest, because then "someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest," according to a report by Talking Points Memo.
  • A federal bill, with no co-sponsors so far, also benefits organizations that counsel women against having an abortion by providing $5 million in federal funds for the purchase of sonogram machines at crisis pregnancy centers, Mother Jones reported March 28 in a blog post by Kate Sheppard. For information about pregnancy crisis centers, read these Women’s eNews articles: 1 , 2.
  • The StartOver! Coalition, a group of more than 250 trade associations, is backing a senator’s plan to halt health care reform implementation until legal challenges are completely settled, The Hill reported March 29.

Noted:

  • In Nigeria, 750,000 mostly married women undergo abortions each year, due to what critics describe as the government’s poor approach to family planning services, the Vanguard of Lagos, reported March 29.
  • Women in Toronto, Canada, will march April 3 in a "SlutWalk," protesting comments stigmatizing rape made by a cop in February at a school campus safety session, reported the Toronto Star April 1.
  • Black Women for Reproductive Justice spoke out against the anti-abortion billboard aimed at black women and children placed in Chicago March 29. It depicts President Barack Obama with the words, "Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted," reported RH Reality Check. For more background on this billboard and others check out NBC Chicago and WeNews’ story.
  • Activists for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia say its decision to keep a voting ban in place was "outrageous" at a time that Arab governments are taking steps to avert pro-democracy revolts, AFP reported March 29
  • A skeptical Supreme Court began hearing arguments March 29 in the largest employment-discrimination case in history, involving 1.5 million female employees accusing Wal-Mart of unfair treatment in promotions and pay, reported All Headline News March 28. The court must first decide if all the women can be tried in a single case, according to a March 29 report by The Los Angeles Times. For more on the Wal-Mart discrimination case, visit related stories by WeNews: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4.
  • Hundreds of pregnant women are fleeing Japan’s east coast, as well as Tokyo, over fears that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant will harm their unborn babies, South Africa-based IOL News reported March 29.
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai says advances for Afghan women will "definitely, affirmatively" be maintained in any reconciliation talks with the Taliban, who severely repressed and brutalized women, but some Afghan women are skeptical of their government’s efforts, according to a March 31 report by Forbes.
  • KV Pharmaceuticals lowered the cost of Makena, a brand-name drug to prevent preterm birth, from $1,500 to $690 a dose, after the FDA allowed compounding pharmacies to sell generic brands of the drug, reported the Washington Post April 1.

In Memoriam:

The first female candidate for vice president of the United States, Geraldine Ferraro, died at age 75 from blood cancer, reported Politico March 31.

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