Credit: Jen Scheer on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
NASA has eight new astronauts and half of them are women, the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected, Businessweek reported June 18. Among the candidates is the first female fighter pilot to become an astronaut in nearly two decades. A female helicopter pilot also is in the group. The announcement made on June 17 came on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the launch of the first American woman in space, Sally Ride. She died last summer.
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The crowd funding website Kickstarter apologized June 21 for allowing a "seduction guide" project to be funded on their site. In addition to the email apology, Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to the anti-sexual violence organization RAINN.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit June 20 over a new Kansas law requiring doctors to inform women seeking abortions that they're ending the life of a "whole, separate, unique, living human being," the Associated Press reported. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri is also attacking a provision of the law that requires its website to link to a Kansas Department of Health and Environment site on abortion and fetal development. The new Kansas requirements take effect next month.
A group of 12 female senators on June 20 announced that they will introduce an amendment to the Senate's immigration reform bill making it more fair to female immigrants, ThinkProgress reported. In a release, the senators said the immigration bill, in its current form, "inadvertently disadvantages women who are trying to immigrate to the United States." Also, the only immigrant in the Senate, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, is seeking a measure that would create 30,000 visas for jobs that are commonly held by female immigrants.
The Pentagon revealed plans June 18 that will allow women to move into select combat positions following the repeal of the ban on women serving in combat unit, the ACLU said in a press statement. Women will be able to start training for certain positions as soon as next month and will be required to meet the same physical and mental standards as men.
The prevalence of dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) -- the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and a principal cause of cervical cancer -- has dropped by half among female teens in the last decade, a striking measure of success for the HPV vaccine that was introduced only in 2006, federal health officials said on June 19, The New York Times reported.
About a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner, according to the first major review of violence against women, the Associated Press reported June 20 in a story on studies released by the World Health Organization.
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A Saudi court sentenced two women to 10 months in prison, along with a two-year travel ban, after they tried to help a Canadian woman who, with her three children, was denied adequate food and water and was subjected to violence by her Saudi husband, Russia Today reported June 19.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the most restrictive ban on abortion to be considered by Congress in a decade, The New York Times reported June 18. The measure would ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy based on the medically disputed theory that fetuses are capable of feeling pain.
The Supreme Court ruled June 20 that it is a violation of the First Amendment for the federal government to require overseas groups to endorse the government's views opposing prostitution in order to receive funding to combat AIDS, The Washington Post reported. The justices ruled 6 to 2 that a requirement in a multibillion-dollar anti-AIDS program withholding money from organizations that do not have a policy "explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking" violates their free-speech rights. The provision at the center of the court's ruling is part of a 2003 law under which the United States is spending $60 billion to combat infectious diseases worldwide that required groups receiving the funding to have an explicit policy denouncing prostitution. Some women's rights advocates cheered the decision for respecting the viewpoint of those working on behalf of sex workers. The ruling also makes the U.S. global gag rule vulnerable to a successful court challenge. The rule requires overseas organizations receiving U.S. dollars to commit to not performing abortions, not informing their patients where they could have an abortion and lobbying to change their nations' abortion laws. President Barack Obama overrode the rule for as long as he is in office.
An all-female and all-white jury will start hearing the murder case against Florida's George Zimmerman, CNN reported June 20. Zimmerman was asked if he agreed with the jurors selected to serve on the panel, and he said he did. Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012. He says he shot the teenager in self-defense, but prosecutors accuse him of unjustly profiling and killing Martin.
Girl Guides U.K. decided they will no longer pledge their loyalty to God and country but will keep serving the Queen, The Guardian reported June 18. They will now promise to "be true to myself and develop my beliefs." The move is aimed at ensuring all girls, religious or not, feel welcome in the Guides. A vow to love or serve God has been included in the promise since the Guides began in 1910, with members originally pledging to "do my duty to God" before it was changed to "love my God" in 1994.
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