The Alaska State Medical Board rejected a proposal Oct. 21 that would have required women to have a doctor’s examination before receiving emergency contraceptive pills, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

A state epidemiologist said there was no medical reason to justify the change. “We all know that nationally politics have interceded,” said Dr. John Middaugh. “Please don’t let the politics trump science and undermine the integrity of the state medical board.”

In the face of a public outcry against the proposal, the board determined that women may continue to get the emergency contraceptive known as Plan B directly from participating pharmacists.

In the United Kingdom, fewer women asked their physicians to write them prescriptions for Plan B, opting to buy it over-the-counter instead, the BBC reported on Friday. Sales of the drug almost doubled over a 12-month period in 2004-05 in comparison to the previous year. The percentage of women aged 16 to 49 who actually used the drug remained steady at approximately 7 percent during both time periods.

Other News to Cheer This Week:

  • Muslim women’s rights advocates at an international conference in Spain called Saturday for a more gender equality in Islam, reported the BBC. Over 300 delegates in Barcelona have convened to address gender inequities in Muslim societies, refute chauvinist interpretations of Islamic doctrine and say they want to carry their message to Europe’s growing Muslim population.

  • The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved an amendment to a House appropriations bill on Thursday that would reinstate data collection on women’s employment, according the Women’s Prerogative, an organization that provides women with information on the news, laws and policies that most affect them. The provision requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data sets in its monthly nationwide survey of payroll records. In August the bureau announced that it would no longer collect the payroll data by gender, angering women’s groups who said it the most effective way to understand women’s employment patterns.

  • Thousands of Icelandic women left their work and homes on Monday to hold a half-day strike on the 30th anniversary of a landmark protest against gender inequality, Reuters Canada reported. The strike began at 2:08 p.m., a symbolic equivalent of 64.15 percent of a nine-to-five work day. Icelandic women earn 64.15 percent of what men earn, according to an event organizer. Although conditions are better for women than they were in 1975, a gender-based wage gap still remains and female-dominated professions such as nursing generally have low pay there.


High-level female executives in Michigan make 49 cents for every dollar earned by a man, according to the 2005 Michigan Women’s Leadership Index. Women hold only 5.7 percent of Michigan’s highest paid jobs, down 20 percent since 2003.

The study follows on the heels of a British report released Oct. 21 by International Survey Research which found that 25 percent of senior female managers feel they are inadequately involved in decision-making within their organizations compared to 16 percent of male managers who feel that way.

Companies would do well to include more women on their senior management teams according to Catalyst, a New York-based nonprofit research and advocacy group. In 2004 Catalyst found that the companies with the most women on their top management teams had approximately 35 percent higher returns on two key financial indices compared with those teams containing the fewest women.

Catalyst report found that the Calilfornia-based computer giant Hewlett-Packard could see financial benefit following its decision to actively encourage women in its Japanese operations to take more senior positions. Although women hold 20 percent of the company’s managerial positions globally, in Japan they are underrepresented at just 4 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Other News to Jeer This Week:

  • An abortion clinic in Springfield, Mo., shut its doors Thursday while in the midst of a lawsuit challenging a new state law, The Associated Press reported. The law, which requires abortion physicians to have clinical privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, had been temporarily suspended by a federal judge while the case was being reviewed. The decision to close was due to the difficulty of providing abortions without support from the local medical community and not the lawsuit. Springfield women will now have to travel 160 miles to Columbia, Mo. to obtain abortions.

  • Iran’s new hard-line government led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is stepping up its criminal sentencing under Sharia law, according to the Women’s Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran. In a span of just over two weeks, three women and one man, all found guilty of murder, were sentenced to death. During the same period a senior Iranian cleric called for prostitutes to receive the death penalty for being “corruptors on earth.”

  • The editor in chief of an Afghan magazine, Women’s Rights, was found guilty of blasphemy and received a two-year prison sentence last Saturday, according to the United Nations. Ali Mohaqiq Nasab was convicted of violating a 2004 law that prohibits articles criticizing Islam; in this case, Nasab questioned punishments for adultery. The U.N., Afghan human rights organizations and the country’s independent association of journalists are criticizing the decision and calling for Nasab’s release.

Karen James is a Women’s eNews intern and master’s candidate at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.