The White House has threatened to veto HR7, a bill passed by the House of Representatives Jan. 22 that would impose a complete ban on taxpayer funding of abortions by ensuring the procedure is not directly funded in any federal governmental program or department.
Lawmakers approved the bill a few hours after GOP leaders cancelled a planned vote on a separate measure prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The vote had been scheduled on the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. The Obama administration had also warned it would veto that bill.
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, reintroduced legislation that would lift abortion restrictions around the United States, including bans on the procedure prior to viability and targeted regulation of abortion clinics, The Hill reported Jan. 21. The Women’s Health Protection Act from Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., is designed to comprehensively push back against a rising tide of anti-abortion-rights laws at the state level.
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Actress Emma Watson took her gender equality campaign to Davos when she told politicians and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that she wanted governments, universities and companies to join her new initiative, The Guardian reported Jan. 23. Watson outlined her new HeforShe initiative, dubbed "IMPACT 10X10X10," which aims to address deficiencies in women’s empowerment and gender equality. A day earlier the former president of the European Commission said he used blackmail to persuade members to put forward female candidates as commissioners, BBC News reported Jan. 22. Speaking to a female audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Jose-Manuel Barroso said he told prime ministers their countries would get less important commissioner roles unless they proposed a woman for the job.
"Guadalupe," a Salvadorian woman, was granted pardon by El Salvador‘s Parliamentary Assembly after being imprisoned for suffering a miscarriage. Amnesty International, which reported the news, said it was a triumph of justice and gives hope to the other 15 women languishing in jail on similar charges. In 2007 "Guadalupe" received a 30 year jail sentence after authorities wrongly suspected she had terminated her pregnancy. She was only 18 years old.
A trailblazing ultra-Orthodox female protest party is set to run in the March 17 elections, Times of Israel reported Jan. 20. The party, called Bezchutan (In Their Merit), was launched to protest the exclusively male ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaisme.
The U.N. decried numerous executions of civilians in Iraq by the Islamic State group, warning that educated women appeared to be especially at risk, Agence France-Presse reported Jan. 20. The jihadist group is showing a "monstrous disregard for human life" in the areas it controls in Iraq, the U.N. human rights office said. The group last week published pictures of the "crucifixions" of two men accused of being bandits and of a woman being stoned to death, allegedly for adultery. Numerous other women have also reportedly been executed recently in IS-controlled areas, including Mosul, spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters.
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Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student and anti-rape activist who attended the State of the Union this week as a guest of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was disappointed not to see the president touch upon sexual assault on college campuses, The New Yorker reported Jan. 21. "I can’t say I was entirely surprised because since when has violence against women ever been a man’s issue?" Sulkowicz said.
The Republican primary process creates "higher hurdles" for female candidates than do Democratic primaries, finds a study by a nonpartisan research group. Authors identify three obstacles that keep GOP women from advancing through primaries and discourage them from entering races in the first place: Republican women have trouble tapping the fundraising infrastructure; the GOP doesn’t pay enough attention to developing grassroots female political talent; and Republican women are perceived to be more moderate than their male counterparts even when ideologically they are not, Politico reported Jan. 21.
Recent reforms by Egypt to curb sexual and gender-based violence fall short of realizing long-awaited justice, finds a briefing by Amnesty International, reported The Daily News Egypt. "The reality is that women and girls in Egypt face the ever-present, lurking spectre of physical and sexual violence in all facets of life," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International. "At home many are subjected to vicious beatings, aggression and abuse from spouses and relatives. In public they face incessant sexual harassment and the risk of mob attacks, when not falling prey to state officials’ violence."
Women trying to escape domestic abuse and unhappy marriages face systematic discrimination in Lebanon‘s religious courts, according to Human Rights Watch. The group urges the country to reform its judicial system, Reuters reported Jan. 19.
Louisiana‘s health department is refusing to let Planned Parenthood perform abortion services at its new clinic under construction in New Orleans, the Associated Press reported Jan. 16.
The teen pregnancy rate in the U.S. is one of the highest of 21 countries, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute. Despite a declining rate over the past few decades, the teen pregnancy rate is 57 pregnancies per 1,000 women in the United States. The study found that Switzerland has the lowest teen pregnancy rate (8 per 1,000). The high rate of teen pregnancy in the U.S. could be explained by teens facing low societal acceptance of early sexuality, inconsistent provision of sex education and socioeconomic inequalities that underlie higher teen pregnancy rates among the most disadvantaged groups. By contrast, Switzerland has long-established sex education programs, free family planning services and low-cost emergency contraception.
Senior Presidential Adviser Valerie Jarrett defended the White House’s pay policies after Republican businesswoman Carly Fiorina noted that women working for the president, on average, made less than men, The Hill reported Jan. 21. Jarrett insisted that in the White House, "women do earn equal pay for equal work."
The Sun has reportedly decided to stop featuring topless women on Page 3, Sky News reported Jan. 20. No bare-chested women have appeared in the familiar inside-cover position since Jan. 16.
The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether all 50 states must allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The court allowed time for the case to be decided by the end of the current term in late June. The case will be argued in late April.
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