The Obama administration said Jan. 20 that health insurance plans must cover contraceptives for women without charge, and it rejected a broad exemption sought by the Roman Catholic Church for insurance provided to employees of Catholic hospitals, colleges and charities, reported the New York Times. But the administration said it would give some employers affiliated with churches an extra year to comply, meaning that coverage would not begin for their employees until well after the 2012 elections.

Church leaders had personally appealed to Obama to grant the exemption, and he made the final decision on the issue after hearing all points of view, administration officials said.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • The Pentagon is preparing a series of new initiatives to try to curb sexual assaults in the military, the defense chief said Jan. 18, calling the problem a stain on the honor of the armed forces, reported the Associated Press. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said there were 3,191 reported sexual assaults in the military last year, a slight increase from 2010. Yet because the crime is under-reported, he said, the real number is closer to 19,000 assaults.
  • Seventy-four percent of Latino/a registered voters agree that a woman has a right to make her own personal, private decisions about abortion without politicians interfering, according to a Lake Research Partners poll.
  • A national campaign to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20 percent or greater by 2020, called 2020 Women on Boards, published its Gender Diversity Directory, reported PRNewswire Jan. 20. The directory includes over 1,000 companies and categorizes them by what percentage of board members are women.
  • Former investment strategist Diane Garnick said she is opening an asset management firm that she hopes will help tilt the balance of the top Wall Street jobs more in favor of women, Bloomberg reported Jan. 19.
  • Yahoo! hosted its first summit on women and social and digital media in the Middle East and North Africa region, Information and Technology Publishing reported Jan. 18. The summit brought together women in leadership roles from across the Middle East and North Africa to discuss how women can use technology and the Web to drive positive change.
  • A Massachusetts state court struck down a judge’s ruling that a mentally ill woman must have an abortion against her will and then be sterilized, The Boston Globe reported Jan. 17.
  • Ivycorp, creators of Ivytalk (a next-generation enterprise messaging network for businesses and organizations), has received an initial $1 million in Series A investment capital from a combination of investors led by the Women’s Venture Capital Fund, reported Marketwatch Jan. 18.
  • Hundreds protested the recent attacks in Malawi on women wearing pants and miniskirts, reported the Associated Press Jan. 20. While a ban on women wearing pants and miniskirts ended in 1994, some in the country continue to believe that wearing such clothing is a sign of loose morals or prostitution. President Bingu wa Mutharika has ordered any attackers to be arrested.
  • Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire filed a bill last week that would make her state the seventh to allow same-sex couples to marry, reported The New York Times Jan. 16.
  • The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill in Maryland, if passed, would allow men who dress as women to use women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms, reported WBOC 16 in Delmarva, Md., Jan. 18. The bill aims to promote equality for transgender individuals in the state.


Although the final numbers haven’t been announced, it appears about eight of Egypt’s 508 parliamentary seats, or less than 2 percent, will be held by women, reported National Public Radio Jan. 19. There was no quota system in place to ensure women won seats. Also, women who ran on party lists, both Islamist and liberal, were placed far down on those lists; they had virtually no chance of getting into office, the article reported.

"It really hurts so much when the same people you were with in that square that day, who are fighting against the regime … are now turning against you," says Dalia Ziada, an activist who ran for parliament. "It’s like betrayal, betrayal from our companions."

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • After a period of substantial decline, the global abortion rate has stalled, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization Jan. 19. This plateau coincides with a slowdown, documented by the United Nations, in contraceptive uptake, which has been especially marked in developing countries.
  • A woman whom Houston police described as an activist on behalf of Iranian women’s civil rights, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, was found shot dead at the wheel of her car after it crashed into a Houston townhouse garage, reported CBS/Associated Press Jan. 18.
  • Twenty-one states received a failing grade on a 2012 report card on reproductive rights, and the nation overall received a D, according to a NARAL Pro-Choice America report released Jan. 20.
  • Four bills in the Virginia General Assembly would require women to have an ultrasound before an abortion, reported the Suffolk News-Herald Jan. 16.
  • Among 59 countries in which data was collected, only women in Ghana have a higher rate of entrepreneurship than men, reported Entrepreneur Jan. 17. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2010 Women’s Report added that the gender gap has been notably persistent in the U.S., where women accounted for the same share of self-employed heads of corporations in 2010 as in 1994–22 percent.


  • Marianne Gingrich claimed in an interview that aired Jan. 19 that her ex-husband, Newt Gingrich, asked whether she would accept an "open marriage" in which he would continues his relationship with another woman (current wife Callista Gingrich) while remaining married, reported ABC News.
  • Medicaid eligibility policies remained stable in nearly all state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs during 2011, despite continued fiscal pressures on states, according to a survey released Jan. 18 from the Kaiser Family Foundation. As of 2007, approximately 69 percent of Medicaid recipients aged 19 and older were women, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Kathleen Falk, a Wisconsin Democrat viewed favorably by unions, has announced a formal challenge to Gov. Scott Walker after signatures requesting a recall were submitted to the state elections board, reported Minneapolis’ Star Tribune Jan. 18.
  • The Huffington Post has named Anne Sinclair, the wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, as editor of its French edition, The New York Times reported Jan. 18.
  • Two Democratic Farmer Labor candidates were elected to the Minnesota state legislature in special elections, the Women’s Media Center reported Jan. 17. Susan Allen is going to the Minnesota House of Representatives as the first openly lesbian Native American to be elected to a state legislature, and Kari Dziedzic won election to the state Senate.
  • Ward Connerly, the African American businessman who has been the face of the movement to end affirmative action for nearly two decades, is facing accusations from a prominent former ally that he has mismanaged and exploited donations to that cause made by fellow conservatives, The New York Times reported Jan. 18.
  • Liberians urged President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to do more to fight graft and poverty as she was sworn into office on Jan. 16 for a second term before regional leaders and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Reuters and other press accounts.

In Memoriam:

  • Famed singer Etta James died of complications from leukemia, reported CNN Jan. 20. She won six Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Pioneering Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who helped get superpipe skiing accepted into the Olympics, died after a Jan. 10 crash during a training run in Park City, Utah, reported the Associated Press Jan. 19.

Would you like to Comment but not sure how? Visit our help page at https://womensenewsp.wpengine.com/help-making-comments-womens-enews-stories.