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With the Nebraska attorney general issuing a consent decree, the U.S. District Court declared unconstitutional a recently passed law that imposed new burdens on abortion providers, Planned Parenthood said Aug. 24.

Nebraska’s Women’s Health Protection Act, passed in April, required physicians who perform abortions to discuss research literature about possible health risks related to abortion, even if the information may be outdated, false or misleading, Planned Parenthood said. In July, U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Smith Camp issued a preliminary injunction against the law, noting "no such legislative concern for the health of women, or of men, has given rise to any remotely similar informed-consent statutes applicable to other medical procedure."

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Groups across the United States found various ways to celebrate Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26. Among them, the American Civil Liberties Union renewed its call for the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill aimed at closing the wage gap. 9to5, National Association of Working Women called attention to the Healthy Families Act–a bill guaranteeing paid sick days for every U.S. worker–by staging historic re-enactments rallies and handing out literature in cities in Arizona, California and Washington, D.C. And the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women’s Leadership at the University of Rochester launched a Web site dedicated to female political pioneers of New York.
  • Female workers are poised to fuel economic growth as the United States recovers from the recession, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found in an Aug. 25 report. But the findings were not all cheery. While authors noted gender parity in fields such as education and hospitality, they also discussed a gender wage gap that keeps full-time working women earning, on average, 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
  • Bangladesh’s education ministry barred schools from forcing students to wear religious clothing, BDNews24.com reported Aug. 25. It also removed any ban on women’s participation in sports and cultural activities.
  • Author Linda Tarr-Whelan and consultant Jacki Zehner urged the White House in an Aug. 26 Bloomberg op-ed to convene a roundtable on increasing the number of female decision-makers in the economy. They point out that the United States ranks 31 out of 134 countries in eliminating gender disparities.
  • Hampshire College has named Marlene Gerber Fried, director of its Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program and a professor of philosophy, its new acting president. Gerber Fried is known nationally and internationally as a leader in the reproductive rights movement and serves on the board of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights.




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The United States failed to take women’s reproductive rights seriously when it took the historic step of submitting the country to its first human rights review at the United Nations, Michelle Movahed and Meredith Zingraff of the Center for Reproductive Rights told RH Reality Check on Aug. 24. The State Department pointed to high cervical cancer rates in Hispanic women and rates of HIV and AIDS diagnoses, but failed to address three key issues: shackling pregnant inmates during childbirth, African American women dying in pregnancy or childbirth at a rate up to four times that of white women and 25 percent decline in abortion providers in 2010 from the 1990s.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • The United States is not adequately protecting women in immigration detention centers from sexual abuse, Human Rights Watch found in an Aug. 25 report. "The incidents we know about could easily be the tip of the iceberg because the people who may have been victims of abuse are, more often than not, deported," Meghan Rhoad, a women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
  • Federal District Judge Royce C. Lamberth on Aug. 23 blocked the federal government from funding all research involving human embryonic stem cells on the grounds that it violated a 1996 law intended to prevent the destruction of human embryos, the Los Angeles Times reported. A White House spokesperson said the ruling carries the potential to block "critical, life-saving research" and cast the ruling as so far-reaching it would also forbid more limited stem-cell research authorized by former President George W. Bush in 2001.
  • More Polish women are traveling abroad to have an abortion to bypass strict laws outlawing the practice in their overwhelmingly Catholic country, a pro-choice group told Reuters on Aug. 26. "Officially, abortion tourism (into Britain) in 2009 stood at about 7,000 women . . . Probably more than a thousand, maybe several thousands of them, were Polish," said Ann Furedi, head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
  • Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion suggesting that the state Board of Health has the authority to impose additional regulations on the operation of abortion clinics, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Aug. 24. The regulations include ensuring counselors have professional training and construction rules. Cuccinelli’s opinion could open the door for Gov. Bob McDonnell to instruct the agency to impose the rules. Abortion-rights advocates say the regulations could be prohibitively expensive and view them as a veiled attempt to close the state’s clinics.
  • Police are investigating a complaint from a 49-year-old Sri Lankan that her Saudi employer tortured her and drove nails into her body as punishment, London’s Daily Telegraph reported Aug. 25. Economic Development Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said doctors who examined the woman found the nails inside her body and that she was currently being treated at a local hospital. Some of the nails are about two inches long, according to X-rays published in local newspapers.
  • Denison University failed to report numerous instances of possible felonies–including rape–on its campus in recent years, in violation of Ohio law, and is facing scrutiny from the county prosecutor to change its handling of crime reports, the Newark Advocate reported on Aug. 22.
  • Female editors-in-chief at general-interest law reviews are in low supply at 33 percent, Ms. JD said in an Aug. 23 statement accompanying its release of a report.


  • The abortion issue may have cost embattled Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) an untold number of votes to Republican primary challenger Joe Miller, anti-abortion activists told the Anchorage Daily News on Aug. 26. "Many people thought Lisa Murkowski was pro-life, and she’s not," said Jim Minnery, president of the Alaska Family Council, an anti-abortion group. Miller’s lead over Murkowski was 1,668 votes with all precincts counted on Aug. 25, but a stunned Murkowski said she’s waiting for absentee ballots to be counted starting next week.
  • In Florida, Alex Sink handily won the Democratic nomination for governor on Aug. 24. She will face Bud Chiles, the son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles and Republican Rick Scott. But Sink has much work to do; a poll conducted on Aug. 19 showed that 53 percent of likely voters hadn’t heard enough about her to form an opinion, according to the Miami Examiner.
  • Responding to an American Civil Liberties Union request for a government investigation into and action against Catholic hospitals that refuse to provide abortions, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty offers pro bono legal help to any hospital or individual threatened for refusing to perform an abortion, Catholic News Agency reported Aug. 22.
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hired one of Sweden’s top defense lawyers ahead of a looming decision by prosecutors about whether he will face molestation charges, Agence France-Presse reported Aug. 24. Assange has said the claims are part of a smear campaign aimed at discrediting his whistle-blowing Web site, which is locked in a row with the Pentagon over the release of secret U.S. documents.