Credit: SFBart/Bart Vis on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-ND 2.0).


The U.S. appeals court in Boston ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it denies equal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, reported the LA Times May 31. While the ruling did not argue that there is a right to same-sex marriage, it said that the federal government cannot deny benefits to those couples who are married in states that have legalized it. The case has set the stage for a Supreme Court ruling next year.
The opinion in Massachusetts vs. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was written by Judge Michael Boudin, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush.  It stated, “One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage.”

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Twenty-five same-sex couples have filed two lawsuits in Illinois in an effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, reported CNN May 30.  
  • The House of Representatives failed to pass the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, or PRENDA, which would have made sex-selective abortions illegal. The bill received 246 yeas and only 168 nays, but was brought to a vote under a rules suspension stipulating it would need a two-thirds majority to pass.
  • A one-time publication, Native Daughters, created by journalism students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, highlights the success stories of Native American women, reported Indian Country Today Media Network May 31. An accompanying curriculum companion is available online and the website offers multimedia expansion on the magazine.
  • The presidential candidate for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Morsi, said he would not impose an Islamic dress code in public for women and assured that women will have full rights in jobs and education, The Associated Press reported May 29. 


The anti-choice group Live Action released the first of its so-called “sting” operation videos, which shows a Planned Parenthood employee talking with a woman who wants to have a sex-selective abortion, the Huffington Post reported May 29. Planned Parenthood was likely not surprised by the video, as last month it noted suspicious and unusual incidents of women asking about sex-selective abortions. The staffer in the video was let go after the video was released and Planned Parenthood said in a statement that she did not follow protocol for a “highly unusual patient scenario.”
A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood said that while the organization condemns sex-selective abortions, it will not deny a woman an abortion based on her reason for wanting one, unless the clinic is operating in a state where such a procedure is illegal – Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

More News to Jeer This Week          

  • The number of female bylines in op-eds published in major newspapers and online magazines remains low, according to a study published by the OpEd Project on May 28. 
  • College students who are single parents with dependent children–almost 12 percent–have less money to contribute to the cost of college, have a much greater unmet need after receiving financial aid and amass higher levels of student debt than other students, according to data from the federal government analyzed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research
  • Anti-fat prejudice persists against former obese women even after they have lost a significant amount of weight, according to researchers from three universities, reported Fox News May 30. 
  • A New Orleans women’s health organization was destroyed last week by an unknown arsonist, becoming the latest target of attacks on women’s health clinics in the South, Think Progress reported May 29. 
  • Turkey’s cabinet will debate a Health Ministry report on abortion that may include a ban, less than a week after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan likened the procedure to murder, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported May 29. 
  • Cancer treatment can sometimes lead to infertility, but young women are far less likely than young men to be informed of the consequence by a doctor, a Swedish study found, Reuters reported May 28. 
  • Less than a third of the most senior jobs in the United Kingdom are held by women, research by BBC News has shown, including business, politics and policing, the U.K. Press Association reported May 29. 
  • The high mortality rate in Mexico’s drug war has seen women progress quickly in the shadowy underworld of the cartels and they are increasingly taking on key management roles, a new book says, AFP reported May 28.  


  • A video released by Stand with Servicewomen, an advocacy group for military women, shares one woman’s experience of multiple sexual assaults and calls for the adoption of an amendment that would allow insurance coverage for abortions for military women in cases of rape or incest.
  • More women are rating Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney favorably, compared to the past few months, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released May 30.
  • Women might want to keep their distance when visiting their male colleagues’ cubicles; researchers who studied bacteria in offices in three major U.S. cities found that men’s offices contained more germs than women’s, reported WebMD May 30.
  • A Planned Parenthood ad targeting Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president, quotes the former governor of Massachusetts on a number of statements regarding women’s health and choice, reported MSNBC May 30.
  • Former Liberian president Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for aiding and abetting horrific war crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war, reported Voice of America May 30. Read More: Seven Who Topple Tyrannies; Liberian Becomes Africa’s First Elected Female Prez.
  • Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden, where an arrest warrant has been issued in regard to accusations that he raped one woman and molested another in 2010. Assange’s lawyer is trying to reopen the case by challenging a treaty on which the case was decided, reported the BBC May 30.
  • Tens of thousands of women had a repeat abortion last year in England, according to figures from the Department of Health, The Telegraph reported May 29. The day before, the paper reported that plans to force British companies to appoint a set proportion of women to their boards are being scrapped due to complaints of more “burdensome regulation.”

In Memoriam

  • May 31, 2012, was the third anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller, who was one of the only doctors in the country to provide late-term abortions. He was murdered while ushering church services in Wichita, Kan., by an anti-choice extremist. 

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