Two pro-choice victories in Virginia this week: Gov. Bob McDonnell backtracked from a bill requiring women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion, reported USA Today Feb. 22. Legislators also tabled for the rest of the year a controversial "personhood" bill defining life as starting at conception, the AP reported Feb. 23.
McDonnell still supports a version of the bill that requires women to undergo an external ultrasound. However, McDonnell's retreat from the original version is widely seen as a tactical victory for pro-choice activists, who energetically protested the bill and popularized the view that it was tantamount to "state-sponsored rape."
More News to Cheer This Week:
- Maryland's legislature has passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, theBaltimore Sunreported Feb. 23. The bill will now go to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who has said he will sign it next week. Challenges are expected to bring the law to a ballot referendum this November. Recent polls have shown that people in the state are evenly divided on the issue. If the law survives the expected referendum, same-sex couples can marry starting January 2013.
- U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is urging top military officials to let women serve in front line combat, saying barring women from those units could make it harder for them to rise up the military ranks,Boston.com reported Feb 22.
- In a piece of political pushback, Democratic lawmakers in Georgia were planning to introduce a bill banning men from seeking vasectomies, theAJC blog reported Feb. 21. "Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies," said Rep. Yasmin Neal, author of the bill. The bill responds to measure that would prohibit abortions on women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant instead of 24 weeks.
- Josefina Vazquez Mota, the first female presidential candidate in Mexico, is steadily rising in popularity and catching up to frontrunner Enrique Pena Nieto, Reutersreported Feb. 20.
- Qatar announced Feb. 20 that it will send as many as four female athletes to the Olympic Games in London, ESPN reported.
- U.N. experts called on Morocco to consolidate and advance the country's achievements on women's rights by tackling gaps in its legal framework, the U.N. News Center reported Feb. 21.