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Mississippi voters rejected the so-called personhood amendment to the state constitution Nov. 8, which would have effectively banned abortions and many forms of contraception, AP reported Nov. 9. Fifty five percent of voters rejected it.

The initiative defined life "to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof." Passage would have posed a direct challenge to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade and would likely have resulted in legal challenges.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Israel’s Supreme Court upheld the rape conviction of former President Moshe Katsav and sentenced him to seven years in prison, reported USA Today Nov. 10. The conviction was hailed as a victory for women’s rights and equality under the law.


  • In coming weeks, the National Campaign To Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy, in collaboration with the Ad Council, will launch a multimedia public service campaign aimed at reducing unplanned teen pregnancy, the nonprofit said Nov. 10 in a press statement. The campaign will feature Bedsider, an online and mobile program targeted at sexually active women 18-24 to assist in finding and using a birth control method.


  • Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards announced Nov. 8 a reproductive rights watchdog campaign and website for the 2012 elections, Women Are Watching.


  • In Kansas a judge dismissed charges against a Planned Parenthood clinic accused of falsifying records and failing to follow an abortion law after a prosecutor revealed that state officials had destroyed key evidence, reported The Washington Post Nov. 10


  • To improve women’s safety at Zucotti Park, home to the Occupy Wall Street anti-corporate-greed protest, campers have set up a women’s-only tent on the south side of the park, the New York Times reported Nov. 8. A tent for transgendered protesters is also planned. Protesters–who have had numerous run-ins with law enforcers–tend not to report assaults in the park and instead resolve security issues with the help of their own security team. Some protesters suspect troublemakers are sent by opponents to create division and confusion. Shima’a Helmy, a female Egyptian activist who was on the frontlines of the Egyptian revolution, said authorities there deployed agents to damage the image of the movement. Helmy made her comments at a forum on the Egyptian uprising held Nov. 7 at The New School, in New York.


  • The Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee said Nov. 10 that it will honor Ida B. Wells, the journalist, teacher, anti-lynching crusader, women’s rights activist and civil rights pioneer, by building a monument to her memory in her adopted hometown of Chicago.


  • President Obama lauded progress in gender equality at a National Women’s Law Center event Nov. 9, but urged supporters to help him continue pressing for positive changes for women, reported ABC Nov. 9.


  • Mexico apologized Nov. 7 for failing to prevent the killings of three women in 2001 in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, The Washington Post reported Nov.7. The government also recognized its negligence in investigating the crimes.



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Herman Cain’s campaign for the GOP presidential nomination has a website dedicated to spreading damaging stories about the women who have accused him of sexual harassment, particularly Sharon Bialek, reported Talking Points Memo Nov. 10.

One post on the Cain site lists Bialek’s financial troubles, including bankruptcy, and various civil suits she filed.

Bialek publicly accused Cain on Nov. 7 of demanding sex in exchange for help finding her work.

Cain’s lawyer warned any other women who might be considering coming forward with similar allegations "should think twice," reported The New York Times Nov. 9.

Salon’s XX Factor offered a compendium Nov. 7 of some of the slurs being slung at Bialek, the fourth woman to accuse Cain.

That column showcased radio host Rush Limbaugh’s lewd wordplay of Bialek’s last name. Limbaugh continued his attack the next day, calling Bialek’s teenage son a Nazi, reported The Huffington Post Nov. 8.

Andrea Peyser also attacked Bialek in her Nov. 8 New York Post column, "Jobless and shameless gal going for gold."

An editorial in The New York Daily News asks: "Why have dinner and drinks with a married man in the first place? Why not meet him in his office if your purpose is strictly professional?"

A Nov. 10 editorial in the Huffington Post lamented the media assault on Bialek. "The character assassination of Ms. Bialek which Mr. Cain has commenced demonstrates that anyone who speaks out against someone who has abused their authority or trust will face similar attacks that go beyond mere credibility assessment."

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Souad Abderrahim, elected as part of the candidate list of Tunisia’ s Islamist Ennahda party, regards single mothers as a social disgrace who should not have legal rights. She made the comment in an interview with a French Arabic radio station. Abderrahim is the most visible woman in the Ennahda party. "Liberties shouldn’t be absolute, but framed within the customs, traditions and the respect of morals" she said. "There is no room for complete or absolute freedom." Women’s eNews translated her comments from Arabic.


  • In Jerusalem, ultra-Orthodox rabbis are trying to contain the encroachment of secular values through a fierce backlash against the mixing of the sexes in public, NPR reported Nov. 8.


  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics released detailed data Nov. 9 on nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in 2010 finding the most days away from work in the female-dominated ranks of health care support workers. For these workers the incident rate increased 6 percent to 283 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, more than twice that of all private and public sector workers at 118 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. The rate among nursing aides, orderlies and attendants rose 7 percent, to 489 per 10,000 workers. The rate of musculoskeletal disorder cases with days away from work for nursing aides, orderlies and attendants increased 10 percent to a rate of 249 cases per 10,000 workers.


  • Victims of a sterilization program in North Carolina spoke out Nov. 7 on the MSNBC TV show, Rock Center. The state was one of 31 to host a government eugenics program from 1929 to 1974. Tens of thousands of Americans, many of them black, were sterilized as a result of these programs.


  • Nearly half of seventh-to-12th graders suffered sexual harassment in the last school year, finds a study by the American Association of University Women, The New York Times reported Nov. 7. Girls reported more harassment: 56 percent compared with 40 percent for boys. Children from lower-income families reported more severe effects.


  • Around the world an estimated 67,000 women die from unsafe abortions every year, including about 1,500 in Uganda, The Globe and Mail reported Nov. 6. Thousands more are maimed or permanently injured, mainly because the criminalization of abortion forces them into the hands of dangerous backroom practitioners.



  • Barbara Sheehan, a nationally known battered woman acquitted of murder charges in the confessed killing of her police-officer husband, was sentenced to five years in prison on a weapon charge, reported CBS Nov. 10. Sheehan admitted to shooting her husband 11 times with his two guns, a revolver and a Glock, in February 2008. Sheehan testified she feared for her life and shot her husband in self-defense.


  • A new way of measuring poverty made public Nov. 7 puts the rate for female-headed households at 29 percent, almost unchanged from the existing official statistic of 28.7 percent. Census Bureau economist Kathleen Short, said in a brief phone interview this week that the category had "too many moving parts," to understand why no statistical difference exists. She said the category included many younger women caring for children as well as many women 65 and over living on their own with high medical expenses.


  • Record numbers of young, white British women converting to Islam report a lack of help adjusting to their new religion, The Independent reported Nov. 7. Of the 5,200 Britons who converted to Islam last year, more than half are white and 75 percent of them women, according to several surveys.


  • A member of the Ukrainian women’s rights group Femen was detained in the Vatican Nov. 6 after holding a topless protest against the Roman Catholic Church’s "misogynist policies" under the balcony of Pope Benedict XVI, Radio Free Europe reported Nov. 7. A statement on the group’s website said the stunt was a "protest against papal patriarchal propaganda," which "imposes medieval ideas about women on the world."


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