The federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled 2-1 on Oct. 30 to continue blocking the enforcement of a 2005 South Dakota law requiring doctors to give additional warnings to women who seek abortions, including one that the procedure will “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
In Britain, the House of Commons voted 187-108 to reject a bill that would reduce the period to obtain a legal abortion from 24 weeks to 21 weeks and introduce a compulsory 10-day “cooling off period” in which women would receive counseling and be informed of the medical risks and implications of the termination, reported the British Web site Politics.co.uk. Currently, British women are required to wait to have an abortion for five days after seeing a doctor.
Member of Parliament Christine McCafferty called the bill “ill-informed” and said it would force a small number of vulnerable women to continue pregnancies against their will. “Restrictions on legal rights would leave some women in a desperate predicament.”
More News to Cheer This Week:
- The Peter Gruber Foundation awarded three activists its prestigious $300,000 Women’s Rights Prize Nov. 2. Luz Mendez is from the National Union of Guatemalan Women, one of Guatemala’s oldest rights groups, which was forced into exile for many years and remains under pressure since the group’s return in 1996. Julie Su is co-founder of Los Angeles-based Sweatshop Watch, which works against the exploitation of migrant workers. Chile’s Cecilia Medina Quiroga is the only female judge on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and works to integrate women’s rights into international law.
- An Ethiopian immigrant was convicted on Nov. 1 for female genital mutilation in what is believed to be the first criminal prosecution of its kind in the United States, the Associated Press reported. In 2001, Khalid Adem circumcised his 2-year-old daughter with a pair of scissors and received a sentence of 10 years in prison for the crime. Since 2001, an estimated 130 million girls and women worldwide have been mutilated according to the U.S. State Department.
- Female CEOs in Massachusetts have longer tenures and their businesses experience faster growth than the average chief executive, reported Inc. magazine Nov. 1. Of nearly 200 businesses surveyed for an Oct. 20 joint study from Babson College and the Commonwealth Institute, female CEOs led their companies on average for 15 years and just over two-thirds are founders. More than half had achieved an annual growth rate of 5 percent or more since 2004–nearly double the state and national average–together generating a total of $10 billion in revenues.
For more information:
“New York Lawyer Puts Heat on U.S. House Incumbent”:
“Burmese Women Expose Rapes by Military Regime”:
Human Rights Watch, Women’s Rights Division:
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After the Palestinian militant group Hamas broadcast an appeal to women on local radio to protect a Gaza Strip mosque, nearly 200 women approached it and acted as human shields, hoping to free the gunmen inside. In the melee that followed, two women were killed and 10 were injured after Israeli troops fired on the crowd of women surrounding the mosque in the town of Beit Hanun, the BBC reported Nov. 3. Sixty gunmen had been hiding in the mosque during a three-day Israeli raid.
Israeli troops fired shots as women tried to pass them, and continued to fire shots as the women advanced. Israeli military spokesperson Avital Leibovich said that it had not been their intention to harm the women. During the shooting, the gunmen were able to escape.
“Behind the women hid some of the militants,” said Leibovich. “Some of them were even dressed up as women; we have footage. Unfortunately because the militants shot at our forces, sometimes we had to respond.”
More News to Jeer This Week:
- More than half a million women die as a result of complications in pregnancy and childbirth every year, and 19 million unsafe abortions are carried out annually, resulting in nearly 68,000 deaths, the World Health Organization announced Nov. 1 as part of a reproductive health survey to be published in the British journal, the Lancet. “This survey sounds an urgent alarm that if we do not address sexual and reproductive health openly and directly the toll of death and disability will remain with us for many years to come,” said Dr. Paul Van Look, WHO’s director of reproductive health and research.
- Gayle Sweeney, the wife of New York Rep. John Sweeney called police in December 2005 to complain that her husband was “knocking her around” during a late-night argument at the couple’s home, reported the Albany Times-Union Nov. 1. Sweeney’s campaign issued a statement on Oct. 31 attacking the authenticity of the document, labeling it “a piece of campaign propaganda.” Sweeney has declined to discuss the incident and Gayle Sweeney remains actively campaigning for husband.
- Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay has been accused of referring to his former girlfriend and member of Parliament, Belinda Stronach, as a “dog” during a debate on the government’s clean air plan. McKay was asked by another member whether he was concerned about the effect of pollution on his dog, and McKay pointed to Stronach’s empty seat and replied, “You already have her.” Several Parliament members joined Stronach in demands for an apology, but McKay has refused and denied the incident.
- Human Rights Watch criticized laws and abortion regulations in some U.S. states that affect women’s right to have a safe and legal abortion, in a press release issued Oct. 30. These states include South Dakota, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Louisiana and Tennessee. Some state regulations urge doctors and nurses to tell women that abortion can lead to breast cancer and that fetuses feel pain throughout the pregnancy. Strengthened parental consent laws and criminal sanctions against abortion providers were also criticized by the New York-based human rights group.
- Halima Ahmed Hussein Al Juburi, an Iraqi women’s rights champion, was murdered on Oct. 27 by gunmen who broke into her house and shot her dead in front of her three children, reported the Middle East Times Oct. 30. Juburi was the head of the human rights organization, Maternity and Childhood, in Hawijah, a town in an area where violent Sunni insurgent groups are active.
Dr. Jane Hodgson, the first physician in the United States to be convicted of illegally performing an abortion in a hospital, has died from natural causes at the age of 91 in Rochester, Minn., reported the St. Paul Pioneer Press Oct. 29.
Hodgson performed an abortion on Nancy Kay Widmyer, a 23-year-old Washington County woman and mother of three, in 1970. She had been exposed to rubella and feared she would give birth to a deformed child. Hodgson also successfully challenged a Minnesota law that required minors seeking abortions to give both parents 48 hours’ advance notice. In 1990 a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the law created a judicial bypass method for underage women to obtain abortions.
Irene Lew is the editorial intern at Women’s eNews. Suzanne Rent is a freelance writer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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