Freedom Laws Redrawn; Indiana Convicts for Feticide

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Gov. Mike Pence

Credit: Steve Baker on Flickr, under Creative Commons

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has faced backlash against Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called April 1 for changes to a religious-freedom bill passed by the state’s legislature, reported. The bill sparked an outcry akin to the one that followed a similar law in Indiana from groups and companies who say it could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Hutchinson, a Republican, said he wants his state "to be known as a state that does not discriminate but understands tolerance."

Hutchinson’s decision comes in the wake of an uproar in Indiana, where Gov. Mike Pence has faced pressure from businesses, sports associations and popular culture figures to backtrack on a similar religious freedom law he signed last week. Gay rights activists have said that the law protects businesses that discriminate against members of the LGBT community.

In response, Indiana‘s top two legislators, both Republicans, announced April 2 a "fix" to their state’s controversial religious-freedom law–a change that would preclude Indiana businesses from denying services to gays or lesbians, reported.

More News to Cheer This Week:

An appeals court in Tehran, Iran, dismissed charges against an Iranian-British woman who was jailed for trying to attend a men’s volleyball game, reported . The court’s decision means that Ghoncheh Ghavami will not return to prison. She was released on bail in November after being detained for five months.

A safe house has opened in the north of Tanzania to offer protection to girls who are facing female genital mutilation, reported . Even though the practice is illegal, it is still widely practiced.

All this week experts gathered to talk about the challenges black women and girls face as single mothers, low-wage workers, professionals and students, reported . The conversation is happening under the hashtag .

, is eager to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, reported . "A man and a woman who do the same job should get the same pay," said Schumer. He also called the pay gap between women and men–still 78 cents to every dollar–"shocking."

Jeers

An Indiana judge sentenced a 33-year-old woman, Purvi Patel, to 20 years in prison on charges of feticide, reported . Patel is the first woman in Indiana to be convicted under the state’s feticide law. Activists say the case highlights the way that prosecutors across the U.S. are increasingly using laws to criminalize women for allegedly harming a fetus.

In 2013, Patel was arrested after seeking help in an emergency room for excessive bleeding, with an umbilical cord protruding from her vagina, reported the article. She first told staff she hadn’t been pregnant but then revealed that she had given birth at her home in Granger. Patel told an investigator that she thought the fetus wasn’t alive and that she left it in a plastic bag in a dumpster outside her family home. Text messages showed to the jury indicated that Patel wanted to terminate her pregnancy and court documents indicated she purchased two abortion-inducing drugs from a website in Hong Kong and began taking them in July 2013. A toxicology report, however, revealed no traces of the drugs in Patel’s blood, nor could it be verified that Patel ever purchased the drugs.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave the Susan B. Anthony List a statement of his support for the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," which claims to prevent abortions beginning at 20 weeks," reported .

More News to Jeer This Week:

Texas brought a record-breaking 20 anti-LGBT bill proposals last year, reported .

McDonald‘s faced backlash after announcing a pay raise that is expected to affect just 10 percent of the company’s U.S. workforce, reported . The move, widely slammed as a public relations stunt, will leave pay completely unchanged for 1.6 million of the company’s workers. The fast food chain announced a roughly $1 boost in hourly pay.

Many women living in the city of Los Angeles earn a wage that roughly equals 84 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, according to a report released March 31. But for those with full-time, year-round jobs, the gender pay gap narrows to 97 cents earned by women to each dollar men earn, reported.

In a recent interview with , English actress Keira Knightley spoke out over the lack of women working behind the camera in Hollywood, reported . Knightley criticized the one-sided nature of the industry and asked why the male journey is so consistently prioritized.

Ellen Pao has lost her gender discrimination case on all counts against her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, reported . A California jury determined that gender was not involved in the decision not to promote Pao and that Pao was not harmed because of it.

Noted:

Tajikistan state television aired a documentary that alleges that prostitutes in the country have been wearing Islamic veils to earn more money, reported . The report suggested that sex workers were wearing hijabs and face-covering veils as it made them more attractive to clients.

Female embryos are more likely to die during pregnancy, scientists have claimed, overturning a long-held belief that male embryos are more vulnerable in the first months of life, reported .

Groundbreaking new research shows that the time parents, particularly mothers, spend with children does not impact the child’s future in any way, the reported .

Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic representative from Illinois, will challenge Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in 2016, reported . If she wins, she would become the second female combat veteran ever elected to the Senate.


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