N.Y. Fast Food Workers Win; Wis. Abortion Bill Signed

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A protest in New York City this week to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Credit: Corinna Barnard

A protest in New York City this week to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

(WOMENSENEWS)–

Cheers

A panel appointed by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will recommend that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour for employees of fast-food chain restaurants throughout the state, reported . That wage would be an increase of more than 70 percent for workers earning the state’s current minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. The wage board said the increase in the minimum wage to $15 should come by 2018 in New York City and by 2021 in the rest of the state.

More News to Cheer This Week:

The auto parts retailer AutoZone dropped its challenge to a verdict ordering it to pay a record-breaking $185 million in damages to a former employee who claimed she was demoted and fired for being pregnant, reported . Rosario Juarez was hired by AutoZone in 2000 and was eventually promoted to store manager in 2004. But when she became pregnant in September 2005, she says her manager told her, “Congratulations…I guess,” adding, “I feel sorry for you.” He later tried to get her to step down to a lower role, telling her she couldn’t handle the responsibilities of running the store while she was pregnant. After her son was born, she was demoted and her pay was cut.

U.S. President Barack Obama headed to Kenya and women’s rights groups are seizing the occasion to urge his administration to loosen their interpretation of an anti-abortion rule, reported . “We are counting on you to take action to publicly correct the restrictive implementation of the Helms Amendment,” the letter sent to Obama read, asking him to “lift this barrier and promote a favorable environment for actualizing Kenyan women’s and girls’ legal right to abortion and reproductive health care as is protected in our Constitution.”

The New York State Education Department issued guidance to school districts on properly accommodating transgender and gender non-conforming students, reported . The 12-page document features definitions of terminology, common areas of concern in dealing with transgender and gender non-conforming students and examples of how educators can address issues associated with transgender and gender non-conforming students.

Taiwan is poised to elect its first female leader after the two largest political parties nominated women to contest next January’s presidential election, reported . Hung Hsiu-chu, 67, a former teacher whose fiery style has earned her the nickname “Little Hot Pepper,” was officially selected as the candidate for the ruling Nationalist party (KMT). She will compete against Tsai Ing-wen, 58, the candidate nominated by the opposition Democratic Progressive party (DPP) in April.

Jeers

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill July 20 that outlaws non-emergency abortions at or beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, the reported. There is no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Walker has a long history of opposing abortions. His record also includes defunding Planned Parenthood, requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, a law currently blocked by a federal court judge and requiring women to have ultrasounds and be shown images of the fetus before having an abortion. Last week, Walker launched his bid for the 2016 presidential nomination. Two groups supporting Walker’s presidential run have already raised more than $26 million, The Washington Post reported.

More News to Jeer This Week:

Women returning from maternity leave in the U.K. are more likely to face discrimination in the workplace than they were a decade ago, according to a report published July 24 by the British Equality and Human Rights Commission. The study estimates that around 54,000 new mothers are losing their jobs across Britain every year – almost twice the number identified in similar research undertaken in 2005, reported. It also found that 10 percent of women were discouraged from attending antenatal appointments by their employers, putting the health of mother and baby at risk.

The United Nations has denounced Northern Ireland’s ban on most abortions. In a sharply critical report on the province’s abortion policy released July 24, the U.N.’s human rights committee said the severe restrictions on terminations were putting Northern Irish women’s lives at risk, reported. An estimated 2,000 women travel to English hospitals and clinics from Northern Ireland every year to have terminations.

Portugal has tightened its abortion laws, adopting a bill aimed at making women pay to end a pregnancy and requirements for more stringent tests before the procedure, reported . The parliament also adopted other amendments to the abortion law, including a requirement that women get psychological and social counseling and advice on family planning before ending a pregnancy.

The World Bank estimated that more than 4,000 women could die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea because of the loss of doctors, nurses and midwives to Ebola, reported . “The loss of health workers to Ebola could increase maternal deaths up to rates last seen in these countries 15-20 years ago,” said Markus Goldstein at the World Bank. That means maternal deaths in Sierra Leone could increase by more than 70 percent.

Bill Cosby admitted paying women off after persuading them into sex, having pursued them by using his powerful position in the entertainment industry and affecting a concern for their future, as well as offering them sedating drugs. The new revelations were reported by after obtaining a copy of a transcript from a deposition Cosby gave a decade ago when a woman brought a lawsuit against him.

Noted:

Despite significant improvement in maternal survival for the last two decades, the world still failed to meet the Millennium Development Goal on maternal health, reported . From the global maternal mortality ratio of 380 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990, the number is now down to 210. But the goal was to reduce the number to 95 deaths. In 2013, about 289,000 mothers died – or 800 women per day. Eighty-six percent of them lived in the sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. The maternal mortality ratio is 14 times higher in developing regions compared to developed ones.

An anti-abortion group released a second video that allegedly showed that Planned Parenthood sells aborted fetal tissue, reported . This video release follows allegations raised last week in another video that quickly spurred government investigations. Both secretly recorded videos were produced by the Center for Medical Progress in California with actors posing as buyers for a biological company. Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement the first “video was heavily edited in attempt to support false and outrageous claims,” and it denied any improper activity. The organization also said it does not profit from fetal tissue donation and only receives payment for associated costs, which is legally permissible.

Women who develop slight memory deficits and mental decline slide faster toward dementia than men, reported . A vast majority–nearly two-thirds of the 5 million Americans afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease–are women, which scientists note can be traced to the fact that women live longer, but the reasons for their decline have remained indeterminate.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s work to relax strict abortion laws in socially conservative Chile has created a rift inside her ruling coalition, reported . Consequently, key elements of the reform are likely to be removed. Chile is one of only six countries with an outright ban on abortion.

A CDC report says the percentage of female teens who have used the morning after pill has increased by more than 10 percent over the past decade, reported . The report highlights that the use of emergency contraception by female teenagers has increased from 8 percent in 2002 to 22 percent in 2011 through 2013. Researchers say in 2013, the U.S. birth rate for teens aged 15-19 dropped 57 percent.

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