Illinois Judge John Belz upheld the governor’s order that pharmacists in the state fill emergency contraception prescriptions, the State-Journal Register reported. On Thursday, Belz denied a petition brought by the law firm Americans United for Life that would have blocked the enforcement of an order by Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The anti-choice law firm brought suit on behalf of two pharmacists who sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the state from enforcing the governor’s order until the courts issued a final decision.

The order requires pharmacies that sell any type of prescription birth control to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception. If the pharmacy cannot fill the prescription because it is out of stock, it must now offer an alternative treatment, agree to order the drug or transfer the prescription to another pharmacy. Failing these, the pharmacist must return the prescription to the woman so she can have it filled elsewhere.

Other News to Cheer This Week:

  • In Arkansas, Little Rock Family Planning Services director Jerry Edwards has offered to perform free abortions for hurricanes Katrina and Rita evacuees, reports the Feminist Daily News Wire. Normally the procedure costs between $525 and $600 during the first trimester, but Edwards said he wants to prevent risky, later-term abortions for women who face delays because they are unable to return home.

  • Major corporations with employment policies that protect workers from gender discrimination or harassment now exceed 100, the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition announced Tuesday. DaimlerChysler, Credit Suisse First Boston, Kaiser Permanente and defense contractor Raytheon Aircraft Company have recently added policies that the coalition said protect all employees from being judged based upon gender stereotypes. Each of the 104 companies recognized by the coalition earns over $1 billion annually or has more than 90,000 employees.

  • A Turkish campaign, “Hey Girls, Let’s Go to School,” has successfully persuaded 120,000 girls to enroll in school over the past two years, according to The Associated Press. Education is compulsory in Turkey until age 14, yet half a million girls do not attend schools because of ultra-conservative beliefs that Islam forbids educating females. Imams have aided the campaign’s success.

  • A Spanish judge ordered an imam in the south of that country to study its constitution and the universal declaration of human rights, London’s The Daily Telegraph reported. Mohamed Kamal Mustafa, who wrote a book that instructed Muslim men on how to beat their wives without leaving scars or bruises, was fined and sentenced to 15 months in jail last year after being found guilty of inciting violence against women.

  • Although South Korea’s work force has traditionally been male-dominated, a government report found that 46 percent of the country’s professionals are women, the Asia Pulse reported Thursday. Additionally, more women than men passed the state diplomatic exam this year. With 10 of the 19 successful applicants being women, it was the first time women have outperformed men on that test.


U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement filed an appeal on Monday asking the Supreme Court to reinstate the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that has been ruled unconstitutional in three federal jurisdictions, the Los Angeles Times reported. The law has been successfully challenged as vague, with experts claiming the law would bar most common abortion procedures used past 12 weeks.

Until 2000, Nebraska state law also banned what abortion opponents call “partial-birth abortion” until it was overturned by a 5 to 4 Supreme Court ruling. The court found at that time that the law’s provisions put women’s health at risk. Congress countered this decision and passed a new version of the law. In November 2003, President Bush signed the new abortion ban.

In submitting his appeal, Clement reasoned that the court should defer to the wishes of Congress regardless of medical findings that the procedures barred by the law were necessary to protect women’s health.

Other News to Jeer This Week:

  • The Wisconsin Legislature passed two bills on Tuesday backed by those opposing abortion, the Capital Times reported. The first requires physicians to tell women considering abortions that the fetus feels pain. It also established a “conscience clause” allowing health care workers to refuse to participate in procedures including abortion, sterilization, in-vitro fertilization and, although illegal in that state, assisted suicide. The second bill requires that abstinence be taught in the public schools as the primary means of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
  • Nearly half the women seeking services from domestic violence agencies in Australia were turned away, according to a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Approximately 100,000 clients accessed services from publicly-funded agencies in 2003 and 2004; of those, a third of them were escaping domestic violence.

In Memoriam

Constance Baker Motley, the first African American woman to become a federal judge, died of congestive heart failure in a Manhattan hospital on Wednesday at the age of 84, The New York Times reported.

Constance Baker Motley

A prominent civil rights lawyer, Motley’s legal skills helped end segregation in the South and gave a black student the right to admission at the University of Mississippi in 1962. In 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Born in New Haven, Conn., in 1921, Motley was the ninth of 12 children. Her family could not afford to send her to college, but when she was 18 the white sponsor of a local social club where she was giving a speech offered to finance her education.

Motley’s life was marked by her commitment to progress. She once famously said, “Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.”

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