By Karen James
Saturday, November 19, 2005
The House Committee on Financial Services unanimously voted Wednesday to protect victims of domestic violence who have fled their abusers from being traced through a government database by approving the Safe Housing Identity Exemption for the Lives of Domestic Violence Victims (SHIELD) Act, announced the bill's sponsor, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis). Currently, all federally funded shelters and transitional housing programs are required to record clients' personal information such as name, date of birth, Social Security number and ethnicity in a database kept by Housing and Urban Development.
Because the database is accessible to certain government employees and contractors, some of whom may be abusers, the new bill would allow shelters to input non-identifying information on domestic violence victims for data collection purposes. The bipartisan bill now awaits consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives.
A Florida appellate court overturned a lower court ruling that prevented a 17-year-old from obtaining an abortion without her parents' knowledge, the St. Petersburg Times reported on Friday, Nov. 11.
In a 2-1 vote, the three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal overruled an Oct. 28 decision by Polk County Circuit Judge Ellen Masters. The law requiring parents to be notified at least 48 hours before a minor undergoes an abortion. The law provides for certain exemptions and in its review, the high court found that the young woman, who was almost 18, was mature enough to make her own decision and that informing her parents would not be in her best interests.
Women with heart failure are less likely than men to receive life-extending medical devices according to a Mayo Clinic study released Tuesday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting, United Press International reported.
The clinic reviewed the cases of 373 of its patients who underwent implantation of cardiac resynchronization therapy devices between 1999 and 2004 to determine gender-specific referrals and therapy outcome. Although researchers found that the five-year survival rate for women of 76 percent was significantly higher than the corresponding 46 percent survival rate for men, women underwent only 18 percent of the clinic's implant surgeries.
A U.S. Air Force serviceman received a suspended prison term from a Japanese court on Thursday for molesting a 10-year-old girl on the southern island of Okinawa where he is stationed, Japan Today reported.
Staff Sgt. Armando Valdez, 28, denied having photographed the girl's naked torso with his cell phone camera when questioned by the police about the July 3 incident that took place in a parking lot, but pled guilty during a September court hearing. Although prosecutors sought an 18-month prison sentence, Valdez was sentenced to four years probation and will not serve jail time unless he violates its terms.
Despite criticism from the Australian Medical Association and pressure to lift the effective ban on the abortion pill RU-486, Australia's health minister will not change government policy that restricts access to the drug. The minister maintains that the drug could be dangerous to women in remote and rural areas who might use it improperly and should be used only with strict medical supervision, the Age reported on Tuesday.
Under Australian law, women must apply through their doctors for federal government approval before receiving the drug. The government warns that up to 8 out of every 100 women will need urgent post-abortion care and has highlighted U.S. warnings about a risk of severe infection following its use. A leading obstetrician, Caroline de Costa, a professor at James Cook University in Cairns, has called the statistics alarmist and criticized the health department.
-- Allison Stevens contributed to this report.
Karen James is a Women's eNews intern and master's candidate at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Allison Stevens is Washington bureau chief at Women's eNews.