* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.Subhead: Three U.S. states are reconsidering or halting abortion laws. Also this week, in Afghanistan a new law may prevent the protections of women who are victims of violence. Byline: WeNews staff
Credit: AfghanistanMatters on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0)
Democrats in the Virginia Senate are trying to undo some of the anti-abortion laws previously passed into law when Republicans controlled the General Assembly, the Associated Press reported Feb. 6. A Senate panel already approved two abortion rights bills at the Capitol. One bill would repeal the requirement that women seeking an abortion first get an ultrasound. The other would allow insurance plans sold in Virginia to individuals or small groups to provide coverage for abortions.
Health officials in Louisiana meanwhile announced Feb. 3 that they are "rescinding" new "emergency" rules governing abortion providers in the state, RH Reality Check reported. The announcement came the night before a scheduled hearing on the new rules, which, in part, would have mandated extensive physical refurbishments for outpatient abortion facilities with which no existing abortion provider would have been able to immediately comply.
In Alaska, a regulation limiting when the state will pay for abortions for women on Medicaid was put on hold by a state judge who said it could cause patients to delay or forego the procedure when it's medically necessary, Bloomberg News reported Feb. 6.
More News to Cheer This Week:
A group of women in Tokyo are threatening a "sex boycott" against any man who votes for Yoichi Masuzoe in the upcoming gubernatorial election, The Guardian reported Feb. 7. Masuzoe claimed that menstruation makes women unfit for government. A Tokyo-based Twitter campaign group -- which bills itself as "the association of women who will not have sex with men who vote for Masuzoe" – has garnered almost 3,000 followers since its launch last week.
Janet Yellen was sworn in to succeed Ben Bernanke, becoming the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve in its 100-year history, the Associated Press reported. Yellen was confirmed by the Senate last month and took the oath in a brief ceremony in the Fed's board room.
A new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called honor killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse, The Guardian reported Feb. 4.
The small but significant change to Afghanistan's criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the law – passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai -- will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering.
More News to Jeer This Week:
Thousands of Saudis vented their anger online after staff at a Riyadh university barred male paramedics from entering a women's-only campus to assist a student who had suffered a heart attack and later died, Gulf News reported Feb. 6.
The Kentucky Senate passed a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo mandatory ultrasounds and have the results described to them, RH Reality Check reported Feb. 6. The bill passed overwhelmingly on a 33-5 vote and now moves to the Democrat-controlled House.
In a lawsuit, Krystle Silvera says that police officers from the 63rd precinct in New York sexually assaulted her and broke her son's leg when they came to her Brooklyn home in search of her ex-boyfriend last year, the New York Daily News reported Feb. 6.
Reported rape is more common in Alaska than any other state, according to 2012 FBI crime estimates. The per capita rate is about three times the national average. In America's "Last Frontier" state, nearly 80 incidences of rape are reported per 100,000 people, the data show, CNN reported Feb. 5. Nationally, the rate is 27 per 100,000.
The U.S. is lagging behind other developed nations in the international race to place more women on corporate boards, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 5. The ranks of female directors at big public companies are growing faster in several countries, thanks to legal mandates or extensive voluntary efforts.
A proposal in Indiana to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in writing or partner with a doctor who has them drew criticism from abortion-rights groups that say the state could release the partnering physician's information, the Associated Press reported Feb. 5. The Indiana Senate approved the bill on Feb. 4, which would require abortion providers to establish a 24-hour-a-day phone line for patients to call in case of questions or complications. The bill also would require abortion providers to give patients contact information for the hospital that provides admitting privileges.
Sixteen juveniles forced into prostitution -- including some teens who had been reported missing by their families -- were rescued by the FBI in a two-week operation leading up to the Super Bowl, the Associated Press reported Feb. 4. More than 50 women who were also forced to work as prostitutes were also rescued and more than 45 pimps were arrested, according to authorities.
New York hedge-fund manager Sean Fieler is financing a new political group bent on coaxing religiously-minded voters who oppose abortion rights and same-sex marriage back into politics, Bloomberg News reported Feb. 4.
While stroke is common in both men and women, guidelines released on Feb. 6 for the first time address factors such as pregnancy, birth control pills and menopause that put women at particular risk for the deadly condition, Reuters reported.
The National Association or Female Executives released their annual list of the Top 50 Companies for Executive Women, which also highlights 10 companies it says are the "best" for women, ZAMZAMZAMForbes reported Jan. 6. IBM tops the list.
Women's rights activist Sandra Fluke has decided against running for retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman's congressional seat, instead planning a bid for the state Senate, the Los Angeles Times reported Feb. 5. Fluke is a Women's eNews 21 Leader 2013.
U.S. abortions numbered 1.1 million in 2011, the Guttmacher Institute reported. That represents a rate of about 17 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in 2011, the lowest since 1973 when the figure was about 16, according to "Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States, 2011."
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