Honor Killings Protested; Plan B Stalls

CheersMore than 300 Palestinian women took to the streets in protest of honor killing, demanding legislation to protect the mostly young women who are killed by male relatives for “dishonoring” the family or tarnishing its name with “unchaste behavior,” reports Al Jazeera on its Web site this week.Last week a Palestinian Christian in Ramallah confessed to murdering his 20-year-old daughter for marrying a Muslim without his consent.On Monday a Palestinian man in East Jerusalem murdered his two sisters and forced his third sister to drink acid in what the police say appears to be honor killings.In light of a recent increase in honor killings, “The Palestinian Authority is now looking to implement a law which deals with civil crimes,” said Zuhaira Kamal, Palestinian Women’s Affairs Minister.Current laws in the Palestinian territories consider honor killing a crime of passion with “extenuating circumstances,” and treats the culprit with leniency, giving on average sentences of six months. The proposed legislation would treat honor killing similarly to other murders, which would make it a capital crime.Other Things to Cheer This Week:–A judge ruled in favor of allowing hundreds of women who allege sexual assault and abuse at Nabraska’s three mental health hospitals to bring a class action against the hospitals, reports the Omaha World-Herald on Thursday. Bruce G. Mason, a lawyer for Nebraska Advocacy Services, says at least 100 women were sexually abused or assaulted at the state facilities between 1998 and 2004.–Rep. Garnet Coleman, (D-Houston) derailed a bill that requires written parental consent for minors seeking to have an abortion, reports the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday. Coleman used a technicality to thwart the Republicans’ efforts at curtailing abortion rights in Texas, saying the bill incorrectly listed a lawmaker as author. –The French government launched a campaign Tuesday to improve pay equity for the country’s women, who still earn an average of 25 percent less than their male counterparts, reports The Guardian.

Judge Calls Clinic Employees ‘Zealous Advocates’

A Reagan-era federal judge in Boston barred enforcement of a new Massachusetts law that prohibits protestors from coming within 18 feet of an abortion clinic. In his Nov. 20 decision, U.S. District Judge Edward F. Harrington–appointed over the objections of prominent members of the Massachusetts bar for his lack of judicial temperament–referred to the protestors’ “sincere message of respect for the sanctity of innocent human life.” He described employees of reproductive health clinics as “very zealous advocates” for abortion, with a “strong financial interest of philosophic incentive” to encourage abortions. And, according to Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara, he all but characterized Planned Parenthood as an “abortion mill,” rather than as a provider of a broad range of reproductive health services.