Seattle on Monday became the first city in the country to begin building apartments specifically designed to support deaf and deaf-blind women overcoming domestic violence, reported the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

The effort started 19 years ago when Marilyn Smith, a therapist, founded Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services after a man killed his deaf wife during a domestic dispute in Seattle. The victim had tried to seek help, but service providers repeatedly turned her away because they were unable to understand or meet her needs.

“The police will talk to the hearing person first,” said Lisa Vosburg-Buhl, a deaf victim of abuse, told the Seattle Post Intelligencer through an interpreter. “They think we aren’t educated or smart enough, or that we can’t communicate, can’t understand the legal system.”

Often emergency responders grab a deaf woman’s hand to calm her down if she is frantic, which limits her ability to communicate, according to the report. Sometimes police arriving at the scene of a domestic dispute will take a statement from the abusive boyfriend or husband and not from the victim because they can’t communicate with her, Vosburg-Buhl said.

Sixty-four percent of the $7.7 million project, which will provide 19 apartments of affordable housing to residents comes from state funds.

Other Reasons to Cheer:

–Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued an emergency rule on Friday requiring pharmacies in Illinois to fill prescriptions for contraceptives without delay, according to a press release on Blagojevich’s Web site. The move follows a recent complaint filed against an Illinois pharmacy that refused to fill a prescription for birth control. There have been numerous reports of similar refusals in more than a dozen states, including Illinois, at major drugstores such as Walgreens, Osco, K-Mart, CVS, and Eckerd as well as independently owned pharmacies.

–The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday to reinstate an Idaho law requiring minors to get parental consent for abortions, reported The Associated Press. The justices let stand without comment the July 2004 Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which declared the parental consent law unconstitutional. The lower court found the law’s restrictions to be too narrow, ruling that there was no reasonable explanation for restricting emergency abortions to sudden and unexpected physical complications.

— Rebecca Simmons was appointed judge Friday to the San Antonio-based 4th Court of Appeals in Texas, which will create the only all-female court in that state, reported the Houston Chronicle’s Web site. Gov. Rick Perry announced her selection on Thursday for the seven-judge appellate court. The appointment, however, will not become official until the Texas Senate confirms it. Simmons’ term would end with the next general election in November 2006, when she can opt to run for a full term.

–First lady Laura Bush visited Afghanistan Wednesday for the first time. In her visit, she emphasized U.S. support for education for women and girls. She announced $21 million in education grants, which will include building an American University and International School of Afghanistan, a secondary-level school. The visit included a meeting with President Hamid Karzai and the first lady of Afghanistan, Dr. Zeenat Karzai, who requested specific aid for building gynecological services for women in Afghanistan. The country has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, estimated at 1,600 per 100,000 live births, according to research conducted in 2002 by UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


More than 100 women were sexually abused or assaulted while patients at three state-run mental health hospitals in Nebraska from 2000 to 2004, an Omaha attorney claimed, reported the Omaha World-Herald on Wednesday.

Lawyer Bruce G. Mason, litigation director for Nebraska Advocacy Services, submitted a request for a lawsuit against the state to be converted to a class-action lawsuit on behalf of “all women who are subjected to rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and physical assault.”