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Obama Packs the Bench; Virginia Board OKs New Regs

Saturday, September 15, 2012





Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan

Credit: Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Talk Radio News Service on Flickr, under Creative Commons.

Cheers

With the confirmation of Stephanie Rose as a U.S. district court judge on Sept. 10, President Barack Obama has put 72 women on the federal bench; the most ever appointed by a president in one term, The Huffington Post. It also ties the number former President George W. Bush had confirmed in his entire eight-year presidency, according to numbers provided by the White House. Of the 72 women appointed, 29 are minority women.

"At this time, it's beyond dispute that having a diverse set of judges improves the quality of justice for everybody," Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, said in the article.

More News to Cheer This Week:

The Greater Kansas City Coalition of Labor Union Women filed a lawsuit after the Missouri state legislature passed legislation that blocks the federal government's contraception mandate, reported the St. Louis Business Journal Sept. 13. The legislature overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

The number of uninsured Americans decreased for the first time in three years, reported the Washington Post Sept. 12. The new law allowing young adults under 26 to remain on their parents' health care plans was one major reason for the shift. Also, the number of Americans on Medicaid increased for the fifth straight year.

The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs approved a bill that would cover in vitro fertilization for veterans, reported the New York Times Sept. 12.

An opinion in the "perspective" section of the New England Journal of Medicine's online site, published Sept. 13, argues that conscientious supporters of abortion in the medical community deserve the same legal protections as conscientious objectors.

A European parliament committee held up the nomination of a candidate for the European Central Bank board of directors because no women were nominated, reported the Associated Press Sept. 7.

Jeers

The Virginia Board of Health approved regulations on abortion clinics that pro-choice advocates say attempt to force clinics to close their doors, reported the Associated Press Sept. 14. The decision means that the 20 existing clinics will have to meet the same regulations as hospitals. The board originally exempted existing clinics, but the state attorney general argued that it did not have the authority to make that decision and brought the issue back to the board.

A blog produced by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia claims that "Attorney General Cuccinelli rejected the board's decision not for any medical or legal reason, but simply because it flew in the face of his anti-choice political agenda." In 2011, eight states enacted nine laws imposing restrictions on abortion providers, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America.

More News to Jeer This Week:

A report from the New York Civil Liberties Union finds school systems in New York falling short when it comes to sex education. Only about a third of districts taught students how to use condoms, one district called the vagina a "sperm deposit," and "moral overtones and shame-based messages regarding sexuality, abstinence, pregnancy and teen parenting strongly pervade instructional materials in all districts – and textbooks in wide use across New York State."

Taboos on discussing sex, as well as high costs and a lack of awareness, are preventing women in India from taking advantage of female condoms, reported TrustLaw Sept. 12.

During a meeting in 2004 with then-governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, same-sex marriage advocates who met with him as the state moved toward marriage equality said he "lacks empathy," reported Boston Spirit Sept. 11.

Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe, Okla., and Roger Wicker, Miss., introduced legislation that would ban same-sex marriages or "marriage-like ceremonies" from taking place on military bases, reported MSNBC Sept. 12.

The Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, which sells arts and crafts supplies, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 12 claiming that the contraception mandate violates the business owners' freedom of speech and religious freedom, reported CNN.

American University Professor Adrienne Pine sparked debate after breastfeeding her child in front of her class, who she brought to work after the baby woke up sick, reported the Huffington Post Sept. 12.

Children who have been trafficked in the U.K. are going missing from local authority care and may be re-trafficked, according to a Council of Europe report, the BBC reported Sept. 12.

The suspect in the rape of a 73-year-old woman who was bird watching in New York's Central Park, David Allen Mitchell, has been officially charged with rape, beating and robbery, reported the New York Times Sept. 14.

Noted

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., recently released an ad touting his pro-choice values, but Democratic groups such as EMILY's List are crying foul, reported the Boston Globe Sept. 14. The ad begins, "Scott Brown is pro-choice and he supports a woman's right to choose." EMILY's List points out that, among other things, Brown sponsored the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to opt out of offering contraception coverage in health care plans, and voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said that women should not vote for Linda McMahon, the Republican nominee for the state's U.S. Senate seat, reported The Day Sept. 13. McMahon identifies as pro-choice but does not support federal funding for abortion.

Talks between two hospitals attempting to merge in Waterbury, Conn., began to falter after the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women said the latest plan does not adequately meet the needs of women, a problem stemming from the Catholic hospital involved in the merger, reported the Connecticut Mirror Sept. 6.

Former vice president of public policy for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Karen Handel, stands by her claim that GOP operative Karl Rove pushed the nonprofit to reverse its decision to revoke grants to Planned Parenthood earlier this year, reported Politico Sept. 13.

Common painkillers containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen have been linked to hearing loss in women, especially for those younger than 50, according to a study to be published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, reported FoxNews Sept. 13.

Democrat Maggie Hassan, who served in New Hampshire's state Senate from 2004 to 2010, won the Democratic primary for the state's open gubernatorial race, reported the Associated Press Sept. 12. She will face Republican Ovide Lamontagne in November.

Tests commonly recommended to screen healthy women for ovarian cancer do more harm than good and should not be performed, a panel of medical experts said, The New York Times reported Sept. 10.

Gloria Steinem is supporting the striking teachers in Chicago, the Women's Media Center said in a Sept. 9 press statement.

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