The Nation magazine in its May 30th issue uncovered allegations that Dr. W. David Hager, a religious conservative obstetrician and gynecologist who sits on the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel on reproductive health drugs, sexually abused his former wife.
The investigative piece, which alleged that Hager sodomized his ex-wife without her consent during their marriage, was posted online on May 11. Hager has since announced he will not seek reappointment to the position. He will step down at the end of his term on June 30.
Hager used his position to prevent emergency contraception from winning FDA approval for over-the-counter status.
Hager has said he was asked to submit a “minority report” to help the FDA overrule the panel’s vote in favor of making “Plan B” available without a prescription, although a spokesperson said the FDA did not request the report, according to The Nation.
Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have called for an investigation into the matter.
Other Things to Cheer About This Week:
— Egyptian journalists and demonstrators protested Wednesday in Cairo demanding that Interior Minister Habib el-Adly resign after allegations that he allowed sexual assaults on women at pro-democracy demonstration held last week, reports The Associated Press.
–Mireille Rocatti, the new Mexican special prosecutor charged with investigating the killings of hundreds of girls and women in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, began her first day of work Friday, reports Mexican El Dictamen. Roccatti, the former head of Mexico’s human rights commission, was appointed by Mexican Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca. Over the past decade more than 300 women have been found dead in the region. The New York Times reported Tuesday that girls ages 7 and 10 were raped and killed in separate incidents in the region this month.
— A Bay Area after-abortion talk line, Exhale, expanded its services Wednesday to a nationwide audience, reports the Oakland Tribune. Started by five women in 2002, Exhale uses techniques based on rape-crisis counseling model and offers support that is non-judgmental.
— Mississippi District Judge Tom S. Lee overturned a state law Wednesday that bans early second trimester abortions at clinics, reports the Washington Post. The law would have forced women to go to hospitals or surgical facilities after the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. The Jackson Women’s Health Clinic, the last clinic in the state that offers abortions, challenged the law along with the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. In his ruling, Lee wrote that the law “had the effect of unduly burdening a woman’s right to choose an abortion and was thus constitutionally infirm.”
–Laleh Keshavarz and Farkhondeh Sadegh became the first two Muslim women to scale Mount Everest, reaching the peak on Wednesday reports the English-language Iranian newspaper the Tehran Times.
— The National Collegiate Athletic Association improved its record of hiring practices in the gender category, earning B+ from the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s annual race and gender report card. Last year, NCAA members earned a B. The institute, which is based at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, also noted that the NCAA got a lower grade this year in the race category: B- this year; B last year.
Denver rape counselor Jennifer Bier awaits a possible arrest this week, after receiving a warrant last week for declining a request to turn over records of her sessions with a former Air Force Academy cadet. The former Air Force Academy cadet is one of the women whose allegations set of a spate of investigations that affected some high ranking officials, reports the Denver Post.
Bier is fighting a subpoena issued in the court-martial of 2nd Lt. Joseph Harding, accused of sexual misconduct. His lawyers claim that the cause of a fair trial overrides the cadet’s right to privacy.
Bier issued a statement saying she is angry that she has to make a choice between her client and being put in jail. “For me to betray a client renders my whole field null and void and I refuse to do that,” she said.
Other Things to Jeer this Week:
— Saudi Arabian Consultative Council member Mohammad al-Zulfa continues to receive threatening phone calls for advocating the end of the nation’s ban on female drivers, reports The Associated Press Thursday. Zulfa brought up the issue a month ago in council session on traffic laws, saying that the law is not an Islamic code but is issued by clerics who say that female drivers could create “sinful temptations.”
— Human Right Watch issued a statement Thursday asking the Bahrani government to drop charges against women’s rights activist Ghada Jamsheer, who faces three trials for publicly criticizing judges of family courts. Jamsheer heads the Women’s Petition Committee, an organization that works for policy reform in the family law and family courts. Jamsheer’s first trial starts Jun. 4 and she could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
— Almost two-thirds women in Nigeria are believed to have undergone some form of physical, sexual or psychological abuse, reports Amnesty International in a study release May 31. The study said that women were beaten, raped and murdered. In some extreme cases, women are disfigured in brutal punishments known as “acid baths.” The human rights organization noted a severe lack of laws to protect women from abuse.
–Human Rights Watch urged the Ugandan government to debate a domestic relations law in the current session of parliament in a letter sent this week. The bill, which would make marital rape illegal and give women equal ownership rights in family property, was postponed again last month after President Yoweri Museveni said it was “not urgently needed.” The bill has been on the table for a decade.
— Concerned Women for America, a conservative women’s advocacy group in Washington, announced Wednesday that it bowed out of an effort to reach bipartisan policies to maximize sexual health over disagreements relating to abstinence and teen pregnancy. The group also objected to defining pregnancy as a “risk” associated with sexual intercourse, according to a written statement.
–Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” ranked seventh in a report by the Human Events called, “The Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries.” The books, which were listed on the conservative newsweekly’s Web site, were chosen by a set of 15 “conservative scholars and public policy leaders” and also includes “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler.
–Allison Stevens contributed to this report.
Anupama Narayanswamy is an intern at Global News Information Network and a graduate student at University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. Allison Stevens is Washington Bureau Chief at Women’s eNews.