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Unmarried Reshape Electorate; Hobby Lobby Case Ripples

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Unmarried women are becoming a powerful new voting bloc in the United States. Also this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered lower courts to rehear any cases in which companies had sought to deny coverage for any type of contraception after the Hobby Lobby case ruling.

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Unmarried women are becoming a powerful new voting bloc in the United States. Also this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered lower courts to rehear any cases in which companies had sought to deny coverage for any type of contraception after the Hobby Lobby case ruling.
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Credit: Nicholas Eckhart on Flickr, under Creative Commons

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Cheers

Unmarried women are becoming a powerful new voting bloc and reshaping the American electorate, The New York Times reported July 2. Half of all adult women over the age of 18 are unmarried -- 56 million, up from 45 million in 2000 -- and now account for 1-in-4 people of voting age. Single women have become the Democrats' most reliable supporters, second to African Americans. In 2012, two-thirds of single women who voted supported President Barack Obama. Among married women, a slim majority supported Mitt Romney.

More News to Cheer This Week:

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is expecting to have a bill on his desk by the end of the month that would strengthen security around abortion clinics in the state, The Associated Press reported July 2. Lawmakers have started to craft legislation to help protect women entering clinics while respecting the rights of protesters. Among these options: giving police more power to disperse crowds and helping guard access to driveways leading to clinics. The legislation is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous decision last week striking down the state's 35-foot buffer zone law, deeming it an unconstitutional restraint on the free speech rights of protesters.

Jay Nixon, governor of Missouri, vetoed a bill that would have extended the waiting period for women seeking an abortion to 72 hours, The Washington Times reported July 2. "Lengthening the already extensive waiting period serves no demonstrable purpose other than to create emotional and financial hardships for women," he said.

Under consideration in the United Kingdom is a new law designed to protect women from ex-partners who put explicit "revenge pornography" pictures of them on the Internet, The Telegraph reported July 1. The government is set to discuss the practice, which experts have warned is becoming increasingly common in the Britain.

For the first time in its history, the Navy promoted on July 1 a woman, Adm. Michelle J. Howard, to become a four-star admiral, The Washington Post reported. Howard will take over as the vice chief of naval operations, the No. 2 officer in the service. She is not only the first woman to hold the job, but the first African American.

Beyoncé has climbed to the No. 1 spot on the Forbes Celebrity 100 after an amazing year featuring a massive tour, Forbes reported June 30. Queen B played 95 shows, bringing in an average $2.4 million per stop, according to Pollstar. Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres take respectively 4th and 5th place after Lebron James and Dr. Dre.

Jeers

Less than a day after the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on employers requirements to provide health insurance covering contraceptive, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court ordered lower courts to rehear any cases in which companies had sought to deny coverage for any type of contraception, not just the specific types Hobby Lobby was opposed to, Mother Jones reported July 2.

The Affordable Care Act had listed 20 forms of contraception that had to be covered as preventive services. Hobby Lobby, a craft supply chain, claimed that Plan B, Ella, and two types of IUDs actually caused abortions and thus violated the owners' religious principles.

Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the the 5-4 opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, used numerous qualifiers in an attempt to limit its scope, but a series of orders released by the court this week contradict any narrow interpretation of the ruling. Read more in the Women's eNews story, "Ruling on Hobby Lobby Draws Strong Outcry."

More News to Jeer This Week:

Women in Syria have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, physically abused, harassed and tortured during Syria's conflict by government forces, pro-government militias and armed groups opposed to the government, Human Rights Watch said in a report released July 3. The 47-page report, "We Are Still Here: Women on the Front Line of Syria's Conflict," profiles 17 Syrian women who are now refugees in Turkey. The report underlines the various roles that women, particularly those opposed to the government or living in areas that came under government attack, have taken on as political activists, caregivers, humanitarians and providers, as well as the particular ways in which the conflict impacts women.

The Peruvian Episcopal Conference has rejected the implementation of a national plan for gender equality that for the first time ever opens the doors to therapeutic abortions, calling it both "immoral" and "unconstitutional," The Christian Post reported July 3. The new decree allows abortions only in certain cases, such as when a mother's health or life is in danger, and up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

The White House has not narrowed the gap between the average pay of male and female employees since Obama's first year in office, according to a Washington Post analysis published July 1. The average male White House employee currently earns about $88,600, while the average female White House employee earns about $78,400, according to White House data. That is a gap of 13 percent.

The mobile dating app Tinder is being sued for sexual harassment and discrimination by a former employee, USA Today reported June 30. The former marketing vice president claims that a company co-founder sent her inappropriate messages. The 24-year-old also alleges that she was stripped of her co-founder title because of her age.

More than 50 protesters gathered outside Planned Parenthood in Boston on June 28 to speak out against abortion, CBS News reported. For the first time in years, many set up inside the yellow line on the sidewalk, which marks the 35-foot buffer zone that the Supreme Court ruled last week as unconstitutional. Anti-abortion activists who say the buffer zone blocks their right to free speech celebrated the ruling.

Survivors of sexual assault on college campuses pressed members of a U.S. Senate committee to make serious changes to the federal regulations aimed at fighting violence and harassment on campus, MNSBC reported June 26. They called on lawmakers to increase the possible penalties the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights can impose on schools that violate federal gender equity standards and to increase transparency about which schools around the country are under investigation for mishandling sexual assault and harassment complaints.

Noted:

India's Supreme Court has said women are increasingly misusing the tough anti-dowry law to harass their husbands and in-laws, the BBC reported July 3. The judges said the law was enacted to help women, but it was being used as a "weapon by disgruntled wives." The court has now ordered the police to follow a nine-point checklist before arresting anyone on a dowry complaint. To prevent dowry deaths and harassment of brides in their matrimonial homes, India introduced a tough anti-dowry law in 1983.

The European Court of Human Rights has upheld a French law banning the wearing of the full-face veil, the niqab, The Independent reported July 1. Upholding a general ban on wearing full-face veils in public is deeply damaging, warned Amnesty International. "It represents a profound retreat for the right to freedom of expression and religion and sends a message that women are not free to express their religious beliefs in public." Read more in the Women's eNews story "Euro Court's Ban on French Veil Is Biased."

The long-standing ritual requiring a woman to lie on an exam table and put her feet in stirrups for an external and internal exam of her genitals and reproductive organs has no known benefits when it is performed on symptom-free women who are not pregnant, says the American College of Physicians, USA Today reported June 30. The exam should be dropped from routine care, the internists group said in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The Vatican, after analyzing the results of a global survey, said Catholics often ignore its rules regarding marriage, divorce and contraception, the Los Angeles Times reported June 26. The Vatican blamed its priests for failing to accurately communicate the rules and today's cultural pillars of modern society for the churchgoers' misbehavior.

The First Food Friendly Community Initiative received a $425,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The two-and-a-half year project will support "first food friendly" community environments for mothers and infants by identifying on-the-ground partners and targeting local agencies, establishments, faith-based institutions and residents for multi-pronged coordinated strategies. These strategies stretch beyond traditional health interventions and include economic and work force development components. By eradicating "deserts" of support and removing common barriers to increased breastfeeding with comprehensive community-led interventions, infants and the families that care for them can have more healthful and empowered lives.

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