Abortion Law Rejected; S.C. Victims Mostly Women

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A candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C., for the victims of the Charleston AME Church shooting.

Credit: Susan Melkisethian on Flickr, under Creative Commons

A candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C., for the victims of the Charleston AME Church shooting.

Cheers

The Supreme Court rejected June 15 an appeal from North Carolina to revive a requirement that abortion providers show and describe an ultrasound to a pregnant woman before she has an abortion, the Associated Press reported.

The justices left in place an appeals court decision that said the 2011 North Carolina law was "ideological in intent" and violated doctors’ free-speech rights. The measure was championed by conservative Republicans in the state legislature, who overrode a veto from the then-Democratic governor to approve the law.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled June 18 that Planned Parenthood of the Heartland may keep using its controversial telemedicine-abortion system, The Des Moines Register reported. More than 7,200 Iowa women have used the system to obtain abortion-inducing pills since 2008. The system, the first of its kind in the nation, allows Planned Parenthood doctors in Des Moines or Iowa City to interact via video with patients in outlying clinics, then dispense the pills to the women.

More News to Cheer This Week:

A woman will be featured on the new version of the $10 bill, The Huffington Post reported. The new bill will be released in 2020, a century after the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote.

At the Hague, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright urged the U.N. to work with more women, WNYC reported June 17. "There never were enough women within the United Nations system in terms of the number of envoys. That’s one part, but the other part is that in a lot of conflict, women are the major victims." Albright added that peacekeeping must take that into consideration during their operations.

Egypt’s judiciary has sworn in 26 Egyptian women as presiding judges in the Courts of First Instance, Egyptian Streets reported June 17. This is the third batch of female judges to be appointed in Egypt’s judiciary, with 42 having been appointed over two earlier stages prior to 2008.

The British government is seeking to pass legislation intended to target people who take girls abroad to undergo female genital mutilation before the school summer holidays, Thomson Reuters reported June 15. Under the new FGM protection orders, people suspected of trying to take a girl abroad for FGM will be asked to surrender their passport and other travel documents.

In parallel, Egypt announced an ambitious plan to reduce FGM by 10-15 percent over the next five years by mobilizing doctors and judges against a practice that still affects more than 90 percent of women in the country, The Guardian reported June 15. The strategy calls for doctors to be trained, prosecutors to be mobilized and a media campaign to be launched to change public perceptions. Yet some activists fear the campaign will fall short in eradicating FGM, and even the officials behind the new program acknowledge they face a formidable task.

Madrid and Barcelona elected two female mayors belonging to the far-left movement "Indignados" -Outraged- on June 13, the Associated Press reported. In Madrid, 71-year-old retired judge Manuela Carmena was sworn in, putting an end to 24 years of city rule by the conservative Popular Party. In Barcelona, anti-eviction activist Ada Colau was also sworn in as the city’s first female mayor.

Jeers

"You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go." These were the words pronounced by Dylann Storm Roof before he opened fire June 17 at a historic African American church in Charleston, S.C. Roof, 21, killed nine people including six women. Roof was charged with nine murder counts, The New York Times reported June 19.

While Roof hid behind the idea that black men are responsible for raping white women, Rebecca Carroll pointed out June 18 in a commentary published by The Guardian that the shooter ended up killing six black women. In her piece, Carrolls goes on to say: "Did he only shoot black women because there were no more black men to kill? Because black women birth, care for and love black men? Or because he didn’t see black women as women at all, and, as something less than women (and certainly lesser than white women), felt us undeserving of the same valiance he conjured on behalf of the women he claim to be protecting?"

More News to Jeer This Week:

Twenty percent of young women who attended college during the past four years say they were sexually assaulted, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll released June 12. But the circle of victims on the nation’s campuses is probably even larger. Many others endured attempted attacks, the poll found, or suspect that someone violated them while they were unable to consent. Some say they were coerced into sex through verbal threats or promises. In all, the poll found, 25 percent of young women and 7 percent of young men say they suffered unwanted sexual incidents in college.

Women were "forbidden" from watching Iran play the U.S. volleyball team June 18 despite the government signaling it would loosen restrictions on females attending sports events, NBC reported.

Attorneys for the state of Arkansas have asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to block a law that would ban abortion at 12 weeks’ gestation, RH Reality Check reported June 17.

London’s Mayor Boris Johnson has been criticized by a British Labor MP for defending claims that women in the workplace cry more readily than men, The Guardian reported June 16. Johnson may be in breach of discrimination laws by defending comments made by Professor Tim Hunt.

Noted:

Rachel Dolezal, former head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter in Spokane, Wash., told the "Today Show" on June 16 that she identifies as black and has done so since the age of 5. Two days earlier, Dolezal had resigned from her leadership position after KLXY4 revealed that she had misrepresented her racial background. Dolezal presents herself as a black woman, but her white biological parents claim she is white. The incident comes on the heels of Caitlyn Jenner’s debut as a transwoman, and has sparked a debate over whether identifying as a different race is similar to identifying as a different gender. Transracial is defined as across or crossing racial boundaries. An opinion piece in Everyday Feminism says, "Race and gender are absolutely social constructs. The difference is that, gender is not a biological trait passed from parent to child, whereas race is." Another piece in The Guardian added that Dolezal’s "decision to identify as black was an active choice, whereas transgender people’s decision to transition is almost always involuntary." The biggest difference between Jenner and Dolezal, reported the Washington Post, is authenticity. "People who are transgender do not lie about their gender identity. Instead they acknowledge that the gender prescribed to them at birth does not match how they feel . . . Rachel Dolezal on the other hand is a white woman who lied about being black in order to elevate her professional standing as an Africana professor and activist."

Women should be urged to freeze their eggs by the age of 35 and start families earlier, as their chances of giving birth "decrease significantly" after they turn 38, according to a new study, The Independent reported June 17.

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