Lena Baker, an African American woman who was executed by electric chair in 1945 for killing E.B. Knight, a white man who enslaved and abused her, will be pardoned by the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, reported The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Baker, the first and only woman to be killed by the state’s electric chair, is still considered guilty for the crime, but should have been granted clemency, said the board’s spokesperson, Scheree Lipscomb. Baker’s great nephew went to a prison rights group directed by John Cole Vodicka seeking justice for his great aunt who, in an act of self defense, shot Knight with his own gun while he was beating her.

“Although in some ways it’s 60 years too late, it’s gratifying to see that this blatant instance of injustice has finally been recognized for what it was–a legal lynching,” said Vodicka, of the Georgia-based Prison and Jail Project.

The pardon will occur in a presentation to Baker’s successors on Aug. 30.

Other News to Cheer this Week:

    Cristeta Comerford

  • First Lady Laura Bush hired the first woman ever to serve as head chef of the White House, Reuters reported Sunday. Cristeta Comerford, a Filipino-American who has held the job of assistant White House chef since 1995, will replace former chef Walter Scheib III.
  • “Savvy,” a microbicide in the late stages of testing, would provide women some protection against contracting HIV, reported the New Jersey-based Herald News on Sunday. The spermicide-like gel is inserted by the woman and attacks HIV cells in the vagina. Savvy, made by the Philadelphia-based Biosyn Inc., is one of several similar drugs currently being tested on people that would not require women to be dependent on men for protection from HIV/AIDS.
  • An Illinois legislative oversight committee made permanent an emergency regulation ensuring that women in the state can obtain prescription contraceptives without delay at local pharmacies, according to a release issued Tuesday by the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, issued the emergency regulation in April, in response to claims that pharmacists across the country were refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives for moral and religious reasons.
  • A federal appellate court in New Orleans issued a ruling Tuesday that will allow a sex discrimination lawsuit to proceed to trial, according to a release from the American Association of University Women in Washington, D.C. In the case, Lucinda Miller and Elaine King-Miller (no relation) allege that the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy denied them tenure in retaliation for complaints about discriminatory treatment, the release said.


While some racial disparities in healthcare appear to be lessening, over the last decade, African American women are still treated the worst, reported Reuters on Wednesday. Findings concluded that black women have the highest mortality rate and are less likely to receive needed cardiac treatment, followed by black men and then white women.

“The corrective actions we have taken to close the gap over the past decade are simply not enough,” said National Medical Association President, Dr. Sandra Gadson. Gadson said that the 2002 recommendations to increase cultural competency and diversity in healthcare providers, made by the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit organization providing science-based advice, need to be enforced.

Other News to Jeer This Week:

  • Supreme Court Justice nominee John G. Roberts, Jr. once approved of a memorial service held for aborted fetuses during his time spent as senior legal adviser to President Reagan, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. Roberts said that the group conducting the service, consisting of doctors who opposed the outcome of Roe v. Wade, was right in bringing attention to the “abortion tragedy.” Also during this time, he resisted legal and legislative efforts to enhance women’s rights, he argued against pay parity, jeered some state initiatives to curb workplace discrimination against women, opposed an amendment to add language to the Constitution guaranteeing equal rights for women and questioned “whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good,” the Post reported on Friday.
  • Rafael Nadal, champion of the men’s Montreal Rogers Cup tennis tournament last Sunday, will earn approximately $211,000 more than the woman who wins the Toronto Rogers Cup this weekend, reported The Toronto Star on Sunday. Although there is parity between the tournaments in terms of revenue from corporate sales and North American sponsorship, the female winner will make just under half of what her male counterpart will earn.
  • Ireland’s cardiovascular health policy focuses on symptoms of heart disease for men, but leaves out the symptoms of import to women, according to a report from the Dublin-based Women’s Health Council, reported The Irish Times on Tuesday. Also of note in the report are clinical trials on drugs for heart problems that are comprised almost entirely of male participants, when drugs may have differing effects on females.
  • Incidents of female genital mutilation have become apparent in Iraq at a far higher rate than expected, according to the German nongovernmental organization, WADI. The groups found that 60 percent of the over 1,500 women studied in the Kurdish region of Germian reported having undergone the procedure.
  • A Human Rights Watch report issued Wednesday said the 51 women who have dropped out of the campaign for Afghanistan’s election on Sept. 18 is a disproportionately high number out of the 328 female candidates. Over 2,000 Afghans are running. The report said female candidates must be better protected from the Taliban and other warlords and added that improvement of grievance procedures and security-candidate relations are necessary for the women to maintain their safety.
  • The hunger strike continues for Ugandan women detained in Britain’s Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre, with spokesperson Harriet Anyangokolo reported to be extremely ill in a press release from London-based Legal Action for Women on Friday. The women are protesting their deportation and abuse at the center. Alistair Burt, a member of parliament who visited the strikers, said that, “the government can not expect to stop deportation because someone is on hunger strike,” reported Bedford Today on Tuesday.
  • A federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Thursday that the Navy does not have to pay for a procedure performed on a sailor’s wife to abort a fetus doctors said had a fatal birth defect, The New York Times reported Friday. The judges sided with the military’s health care provider, which cited a federal law that prohibits payment for abortions except if mother’s life would be endangered by carrying the fetus to term.

–Allison Stevens contributed to this report.

Rachel Corbett is a Women’s eNews intern and freelance writer based in Manhattan. Allison Stevens is Washington Bureau Chief for Women’s eNews.