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Palestine Eases Divorce Law; GOP Men Echo Akin

Friday, August 31, 2012



Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan rally in Norfolk, Va.Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan rally in Norfolk, Va.

Credit: James B. Currie on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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Cheers

Palestinian religious authorities announced sweeping new reforms of local divorce laws on Aug. 30 that make it much easier for a woman to end her marriage, reported the Associated Press. Women wanting a divorce will no longer have to give proof of ill treatment. A judge will have the power to decide, without evidence, that her marriage is harmful for her. Husbands are also barred from seeking "unreasonable" sums of money beyond the dowry and the divorce must be completed within three months.

More News to Cheer This Week:

The nation's only pending ballot measure to ban abortion in all circumstances, in Colorado, has failed to advance to voters, reported the Associated Press. Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced Aug. 29 that backers of the divisive "personhood" amendment fell about 3,900 valid signatures short of the some 86,000 needed.

Jane Romney, Mitt Romney's eldest sister, said her brother would never make abortions illegal as president, reported the National Journal Aug. 29. When the National Journal asked her about the subject after a "Women for Mitt" event, she said, "He's not going to be touching any of that. It's not his focus."

Three of the 21 aides and advisors that Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi has appointed are women, reported the Associated Press Aug. 27.

Texas may nix a law that allows prosecutors to treat prostitution as a felony if the defendant has three related misdemeanor charges, reported the American Statesman Aug. 26. With the state looking to cut back on costs, sending those convicted of prostitution to community programs instead would cut costs by about 75 percent.

Jeers

The discussion of rape by politicians continues in the press following remarks by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., that in cases of "legitimate rape" the female body can prevent pregnancy. During an interview in which Paul Ryan said he did not believe in exceptions for abortion, he referred to rape as a "method of conception," reported the Huffington Post on Aug. 27, but no mainstream media outlets seem to be discussing the comment.

Tom Smith, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, said that pregnancy caused by rape is similar to "having a baby out of wedlock," reported the Huffington Post Aug. 28. Asked about comments made by Akin, Smith condemned the remarks. When a reporter asked what he would do if a daughter or granddaughter became pregnant as a result of rape, he replied he'd "lived something similar to that" because a female relative became pregnant while unmarried. He explained, "Put yourself in a father's position. Yes, it is similar."

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney encouraged Akin to leave his Senate race, but the Daily Telegraph reported Aug. 22 that Romney met with the doctor who informed Akin's comment, Dr. John Willke, in October during a campaign stop. Willke told the Telegraph that Romney said, "Thank you for your support–we agree on almost everything and if I am elected president I will make some major pro-life pronouncements."

More News to Jeer This Week:

Five women who worked for Vito J. Lopez, a Brooklyn, N.Y., assemblyman at the center of a broadening sexual harassment scandal, described in interviews an atmosphere of sexual pressure and crude language in his office, The New York Times reported Aug. 30.

Chinese government officials are defending policies that require women to score higher than men on the national college entrance exam for some college programs, reported the Global Times Aug. 30.

Two attendees were ejected from the Republican National Convention on Aug. 28 for throwing nuts at a black CNN camerawoman, reported the BBC Aug. 29. The individuals told her "this is how we feed animals" as they threw the nuts, multiple witness said. Convention security and police removed the two from the convention center shortly after the incident.

The Catholic Primate of All Ireland said the government will be lobbied by priests and bishops as part of a campaign if there is any attempt to legislate on abortion in Ireland, the Irish Times reported Aug. 27. Ireland awaits a related report from a European Court, as WeNews reported Aug. 27.

A baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves broke ground as Michele Smith joined two men on TBS to provide commentary, reported the blog Deadspin Aug. 20. While some on Twitter praised the decision, others reacted angrily to her presence, with tweets such as "Who is woman calling the baseball game on TBS? Hope the house is clean and shirts have already been ironed."

Noted

Women at the Republican National Convention are making a point to avoid women's issues such as abortion and birth control, as well as the topic of same-sex rights, reported The New York Times Aug. 30. Many see the issues as too divisive in such a close race, while some admit that they play down their own views on the subject and focus on the economy.

A study found that in 2009 and 2010, less than 5 percent of women over 40 who had been through menopause were using hormone replacement therapies such as estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progestin, compared to 22 percent of such women in 1999 and 2000, reported Reuters Aug. 30.

The anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List is launching ads in Missouri focused on the president's record on abortion, reported Politico Aug. 27. The initial ad shows a woman who claims her mother attempted to abort her.

The Al Jazeera program Fault Lines traveled to California, Ohio and Tennessee to investigate the hot-button issue and to meet the next generation of anti-abortion activists. The episode aired this week and can be streamed on Al Jazeera's website.

The National Federation for Republican Women claim that women are most concerned about the economy and fiscal issues, according to the results of a survey conducted by the group. About 40 percent of the 8,500 survey respondents said they are struggling or somewhat struggling "to make ends meet."

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie claims that women shouldn't receive targeted political messages, saying on a CBS morning news show Aug. 28, "I think it's condescending to women to say we have to have a different message for women than we have with men."

A bill in South Africa meant to improve gender equality and women's empowerment has been approved for public comment, reported Business Day Live Aug. 28. But another bill introduced by a justice minister, the Traditional Courts Bill, threatens women's rights, especially of rural women.

The Obama campaign has released a video, "Republican Women for Obama," in which GOP-leaning voters discuss how they are concerned about extremism in their party.

A coalition in Togo, in West Africa, is calling for women to abstain from sex in a Lysistrata-style protest to pressure President Faure Gnassingbe to step down, reported the BBC Aug. 27.

A new ad from Elizabeth Warren, who is challenging Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., for his Senate seat, focuses on women's issues like unequal pay, birth control and "a woman's right to choose," reported The Hill Aug. 27.

Retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said of abortion that "we shouldn't put a party around an issue that is so personal and also, religious-based," on a CNN show, reported Politico Aug. 26. But she also said, "A lot of people think the party platform is something that is rigid. It's not really." The Republican Party platform calls for giving fetuses 14th Amendment rights, which would outlaw abortion and some forms of contraception.

In Memoriam

Shulamith Firestone, a widely quoted feminist writer who published her first book, "The Dialectic of Sex," at 25, only to withdraw from public life soon afterward, was found dead on Aug. 28 in her apartment in Manhattan, N.Y., reported The New York Times Aug. 30. She was 67 and died of natural causes.

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