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(WOMENSENEWS)–Political authorities in Kansas and Oklahoma this week held the line against bills that would have further limited women’s access to abortion.

The Kansas state Senate had a chance to override Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson and pass a bill that would have altered the definition of a viable fetus and required medical documentation for a late-term abortion. Earlier in the week the state’s House approved such a veto override. But the 26 to 14 vote in the Senate fell short by one vote, according to the Kansas City Star. That prevents the bill from becoming law.

In Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson agreed on May 3 to block the enforcement of a new state law requiring women to obtain an ultrasound and listen to a comprehensive explanation regarding the fetus, the Associated Press reported May 3. The Center for Reproductive Rights, representing two Oklahoma abortion providers, filed the lawsuit.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Norway took first place in Save the Children’s annual ranking of the countries that treat mothers best. In compiling its 11th Mothers’ Index, the charity analyzed such factors as access to health care, education and economic opportunities. Norwegian women were deemed well paid, possessing good access to contraception and entitled to government-mandated generous maternity leave.
  • The United States was considerably down the list, at No. 28, below Estonia, Latvia and Croatia, USA Today reported May 4, dragged down by high rates of maternal mortality (1 in 4,800) and infant mortality (8 per 1,000), low pre-school enrollment (61 percent) and one of the least generous maternity-leave policies in terms of duration and pay.
  • In other motherhood news, the Pew Research Center found in a May 6 report on the latest statistics about motherhood that unmarried women giving birth in the United States has grown by 13 percent since 1990. The "New Demography of American Motherhood" report compared birth data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau from 1990 and 2008. Approximately 40 percent of mothers giving birth in 2008 were unmarried compared to 28 percent in 1990. The study also found that mothers giving birth in 2008 were older than two decades ago and that proportion of teens giving birth had declined.
  • The Iranian girls’ football team reached a compromise with the International Federation of Association Football on its eligibility to participate in the Youth Olympics, the Associated Press reported May 3. The team can play so as long as they wear caps instead of hijabs (a full head dress) that cover their hair. "FIFA barred hijab scarves — which protect the modesty of Islamic girls and women — in 2007 for safety reasons and to prevent political or religious statements on the field," the AP reported.
  • One hundred percent of the new partners at the international law firm Sullivan and Cromwell law firm in New York are women, the firm announced at a breakfast luncheon on May 3, reported our Editor in Chief Rita Henley Jensen.
  • French lawmakers submitted a bill to Parliament that would repeal a never-enforced Paris law forbidding women from wearing pants, reported The Times of India May 6. The 1799 ban comes under scrutiny after President Nicolas Sarkozy asked Parliament to update archaic laws. A 1946 law assures male and female equaling under the French Constitution, UPI reported May 4.




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Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended the April 30 re-election of Iran to the U.N. Commission on Women on May 4, saying women in Iran are highly respected, reported Fox News. Inner City Press, an insiders’ blog for the United Nations, asked Ahmadinejad if it was appropriate for Iran to join the commission since it has refused to sign the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. "We will never sign that," Ahmadinejad said, adding that women in Iran were better off in his country than in Europe.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Marquette University in Milwaukee rescinded an offer to sociologist Jodi O’Brien, a professor at Seattle University who writes about sexuality and is open about being gay, saying the professor did not have "the ability to represent the Marquette mission and identity," reported The New York Times May 6. Students and faculty said the Roman Catholic university made the decision after learning of her sexual orientation and works on sexuality.
  • The decriminalization of abortion has been dropped from a Brazilian government human rights action plan, Inter Press Service reported May 5. Observers attributed that to the need of the ruling Workers Party to negotiate support from right-wing parties to ensure the passage of bills in Congress.
  • A minister in the government of India’s southern Karnataka state has resigned after the wife of a friend accused him of sexual assault, BBC News reported May 3. Haratal Halappa, food and civil supplies minister, denies the charge. A local police official said his arrest was imminent.
  • In a message to mark International Day of Midwives on May 5, the United Nations Population Fund said 78 percent of midwives posts in Zimbabwe were vacant, The Herald of Harare reported May 6. "Addressing this shortage is critical to achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015," the UNFPA said. Midwives can prevent up to 90 percent of maternal deaths where they are authorized to practice and play a full role during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth, the article said.
  • The nation’s approximately 3.5 million low-income mothers need more public and private support to advance their educations, improve their skills and obtain good family-supporting jobs, the Women’s Economic Security Campaign said in a press statement May 5 linked to its release of a study, "Aiming Higher, Removing Barriers to Education, Training and Jobs for Low-Income Women."
  • Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, 51, was arrested in a Rockland County, N.Y., hotel Thursday and is facing a felony rape charge involving an attack on a 15-year-old,, reported May 6. The female teen was described by authorities as a possible runaway from The Bronx, in New York City, who was under the control of a pimp. Taylor was arraigned on charges of third-degree rape and patronizing a prostitute, ESPN New York reported May 7.


Pharmaceutical company Bayer received regulatory approval to release a new oral contraceptive, Natazia, to be available this summer, reported May 6.

In Memoriam:

  • Lynn Redgrave, who received her first Oscar nomination for the title role of Georgy Girl (1966), died of breast cancer at her home in Kent, Conn., at 67, The, reported May 4 in an obituary. In addition to her stage and film roles, Redgrave leaves a legacy of breastfeeding advocacy. She sued Universal Television for wrongful dismissal and claimed she was not allowed to breastfeed her third child, Annabel, in her dressing-room during the filming of the CBS sitcom House Calls. The litigation lasted 13 years; she lost the suit and was declared bankrupt.
  • Patricia Rico, a leading supporter of women’s track and field in the United States, died at age 76 from pulmonary fibrosis, reported The New York Times May 3. Rico was the first female president of the USA Track and Field, the national governing body for track and field, and dedicated over 50 years of service for the sport. She founded Track Mirror in 1961 as the first U.S. publication dedicated to women’s track and field.