Cheers and Jeers

Scots OK Equal Unions; Cancer Teen Denied Abortion

Saturday, July 28, 2012



Credit: Stéfan on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).






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Cheers

The Scottish government will introduce new powers to legalize same-sex marriage in churches and in civil ceremonies, despite vigorous and bitter opposition from church leaders. The Guardian reported July 25 that a draft bill enabling gay and lesbian couples to marry with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples will be published later this year and is expected to be enacted next year, after Scottish ministers resisted intense pressure from the Catholic Church to drop the proposals.

The legislation will include significant new protections and "conscience clauses" for churches and individual clergy who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, said Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister.

More News to Cheer This Week:

The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has pledged $2.5 million to a ballot effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state, reported the New York Times July 27.

The ACLU, the ACLU of Arizona and the Center for Reproductive Rights asked a federal judge in court to block a law passed by the Arizona state legislature, which prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in a narrow set of circumstances. Nancy Northup, the Center for Reproductive Rights' president, told the New York Times that the law provides a "radically limited health exception."

The French parliament is fast-tracking legislation on sexual harassment this week, reported the Independent July 25. A previous statute on harassment was voided on the grounds that it was too vague, according to the Associated Press. All pending cases were thrown out.

Charges were withdrawn against a teen from Louisville, Ky., who named her rapists, also minors, on Twitter in defiance of a court order, reported the Courier-Journal July 23. Savannah Dietrich's attackers, who reportedly sent a video of the crime to their peers, struck a plea bargain regarding the charges and the court ordered Dietrich not to talk about the case or risk facing 180 days in prison and a $500 fine.

Three graduate students at the University of Notre Dame have started a petition opposing the university's lawsuit regarding the contraception mandate, in an environment where organized protest over the issue on Catholic campuses has been rare, Inside Higher Ed reported July 23.

Republican legislation that aimed to eliminate the contraception mandate has been sidelined for the time being, reported Talking Points Memo July 24.

Jeers:

A teenager in the Dominican Republic with acute leukemia needs aggressive chemotherapy, but a 2009 law that prohibits abortions without exceptions is preventing her from receiving treatment because she is pregnant, reported CNN July 26. A bioethics council that implements the law is considering an exception, but health organizations and women's rights groups are outraged that she must wait to access the life-saving treatment. The health minister has said he supports the chemotherapy, but fear of prosecution is preventing doctors from going forward with treatment.

More News to Jeer This Week:

A controversy emerged after some women's Olympic teams from Australia and Japan flew to London in coach while men's teams flew business class, reported the Huffington Post July 20.

Acid attacks against women, usually associated with Pakistan, have been on the rise in Colombia in recent years, reported NPR July 26. Also, a steady number of "honor" killing cases continue to be reported in Pakistan, despite the work of activists, the Dawn reported July 23.

A federal appeals court ruled to uphold a law in South Dakota that requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions that they will face an increased risk of suicide if they go through with the procedure, reported Reuters July 24.

Conservative U.S. Christian groups are setting up fronts in Africa to promote anti-gay and anti-abortion legislation, according to a report by the think tank Political Research Associates of Boston, the Associated Press reported July 24.

A drill instructor accused of raping and sexually assaulting 10 female trainees at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, was sentenced on July 21 to 20 years in prison, the stiffest jail term handed down yet in the biggest sex scandal to hit the U.S. military since the 1990s, Reuters reported.

Noted:

Strip clubs in Tampa, Fla., are hiring, preparing for a large uptick in business during the Republican National Convention, the New York Times reported July 27. While strip clubs enjoy a bipartisan appeal, the newspaper reported the results of an informal survey by a trade association: Republicans tend to spend $150 per person and Democratic $50 a person.

A study by Harvard researchers found that when states increased enrollment in Medicaid, fewer people died, reported the New York Times July 25.

Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., is demanding a Congressional inquiry into Planned Parenthood after an accidental death at a Chicago clinic.

The NCAA on July 22 announced that "corrective and punitive measures" against the Penn State football program would include stripping it of all wins from 1998 to 2011, a $60 million fine and a four-year scholarship reduction, the Huffington Post reported July 23.

Due to both the controversy and high cost of sex-change surgery in many countries, Serbia is becoming a hub for many in southeast Europe -- and even beyond -- seeking the procedure, reported the New York Times July 24.

In Memoriam:

Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to go into space, died on July 23 after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 61, NPR reported. Ride went into space in 1983 on the Challenger and again in 1984. She was scheduled to go again, but those plans were eliminated after the 1986 Challenger disaster. Ride also founded Sally Ride Science to encourage young girls to pursue science, math and technology. Ride, a lesbian, is survived by her life partner and collaborator, Tam O'Shaughnessy, a professor emerita of school psychology at San Diego State University.

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