Tag Archives: Women

5 Things to Know about the New Arkansas Abortion Ban

Via ThisIsPersonal.org.

Arkansas legislators have overridden Democratic Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of a twelve-week abortion ban, which will go into effect this spring. Here’s what you need to know about the first “fetal heartbeat” abortion measure in the nation:

  1. The governor vetoed the bill because it is unconstitutional. Under Roe v. Wade, women have a right to legal abortion services until the point of viability (which is usually considered to be at twenty-four weeks).
  2. This isn’t the first abortion ban Arkansas Republicans have forced on the governor. Just last week, lawmakers voted to override Gov. Beebe’s veto of a twenty-week “fetal pain” abortion ban.
  3. “Fetal heartbeat” bans are not rooted in science. Heartbeat measures are simply trying to redefine the medical terms of pregnancy.
  4. Arkansas now has the strictest abortion ban in the country. “Heartbeat” bills have popped up across the country, but Arkansas is the only state to have passed them into law.
  5. Republicans realize they are inviting legal challenges. Advocacy groups such as the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights have already threatened legal action against Arkansas. When the governor vetoed this abortion ban, he indicated that he wanted to avoid the court battles it would bring. Now the people of Arkansas will be on the hook for the court costs of these legal battles.

Via ThinkProgress.

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Men with Lower Voices Have Lower Quality Sperm

English: Human sperm stained for semen quality...

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Last year saw lots of research into low-voiced guys, with scientists finding that women are better at remembering things when they’re said in a deep, manly voice, and that women prefer deep-voiced partners. The authors of the latter study wrote, “Lower-pitched men’s voices are not only rated as more attractive, but are associated with a greater number of reported sexual partners, and greater reproductive success than are higher-pitched men’s voices.”

It appears that’s not the case: a recent study found that men with deep voices actually have lower-than-average semen quality. The study authors write,

Consistent with previous voice research, women judged lower pitched voices as more masculine and more attractive. However men with lower pitched voices did not have better semen quality. On the contrary, men whose voices were rated as more attractive tended to have lower concentrations of sperm in their ejaculate.

Scientific American speculates that a deep voice might be a symbol of sexual and social maturity: men who speak in low tones may be perceived as powerful and established.

Via Jezebel.

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Saudi Woman Executed for Witchcraft

Coat of Arms of Saudi Arabia

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A Saudi woman was beheaded after being convicted of practicing “witchcraft and sorcery,” at least the second such execution for sorcery this year.

The woman, Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar, was executed in the northern Saudi province of al-Jawf on Monday.

Authorities who searched Ms. Nassar’s home found a book about witchcraft, thirty-five veils, and glass bottles full of “an unknown liquid used for sorcery” among her possessions. Authorities said Nassar claimed to be a healer and would sell a veil and three bottles for 1500 riyals, or about $400.

Ms. Nassar’s death sentence was upheld by an appeals court and the Saudi Supreme Judicial Council.

Philip Luther, the interim direct of Amnesty International‘s Middle East and North Africa program, condemned her killing, calling it “deeply shocking.”

“The charges of ‘witchcraft and sorcery’ are not defined as crimes in Saudi Arabia and to use them to subject someone to the cruel and extreme penalty of execution is truly appalling,” Luther said.

Mr. Luther said that a charge of sorcery is often used by the Saudi government as a smokescreen under which they punish people for exercising freedom of speech.

In September, a Sudanese man was publicly decapitated with a sword in Medina after he was found guilty of the same crime.

At least seventy-nine people have been executed in Saudi Arabia in 2011. Amnesty International condemned the kingdom’s reliance on capital punishment.

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Ohio “Heartbeat Bill” Divides Anti-Choice Movement

A rift over legal tactics has split the anti-abortion movement, with leaders facing a Tea Party-like insurrection from many grass-roots activists impatient with the pace of change.

Established anti-abortion leaders like National Right to Life and Catholic bishops have pushed for chipping away at the edges of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

Activists and evangelical Christians are pressing for an all-out legal assault on Roe. v. Wade in the hope that the Supreme Court is ready to consider a change in the ruling.

The rift widened last month over a “personhood” amendment in Mississippi that would have barred all abortions by giving legal rights to embryos. It was voted down.

A bill before the Ohio legislature that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable (six to eight weeks into pregnancy) is the latest effort by activists to force a legal showdown. The “heartbeat bill” is tearing apart the state’s anti-abortion forces.

Ohio Right to Life and the state Catholic conference have refused to support the measure, arguing that the court is not ready for such a radical step and that it could cause a legal setback.

Defenders of abortion rights, in turn, call banning abortions at the first sign of a heartbeat a patently unconstitutional proposal that is doomed to failure.

The refusal of Ohio Right to Life to get behind the heartbeat proposal has led to bitter dissent. In the last two weeks, six county chapters have angrily withdrawn from the organization including the Cincinnati chapter, the state’s oldest and largest.

The bill is awaiting action in the Republican Senate. If it passes, which some expect to happen this winter, Gov. John R. Kasich, a conservative Republican, is likely to sign it.

National Right to Life, the umbrella group for state chapters, has taken no position on the heartbeat bill or on the fracturing of the movement.

The heartbeat bill, if not as sweeping as personhood, has a more visceral public appeal and avoids some of the pitfalls of the personhood proposal, posing no threat to contraception or critical medical care. The law would prevent a majority of abortions, perhaps 80% to 90%. Doctors who do abortions in violation would be subject to a felony charge, fines, and loss of their medical license, but the women would not face charges. The bill would allow an abortion if a woman’s life or a major bodily function were in danger. Abortions for victims of rape or incest would not be allowed.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court established a right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb. Proponents of the heartbeat bill acknowledge that federal courts would declare it unconstitutional. Their hope is that the Court would take it on and that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is open to rethinking Roe.

Via The New York Times.

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Fatou Bensouda Chosen as Next International Criminal Court Prosecutor

Parties to the international treaty that created the International Criminal Court (ICC) have selected Fatou B. Bensouda of the Gambia to be the next prosecutor.

Ms. Bensouda is expected to be elected on December 12 at the tenth session of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute, the court said in a press release.

She will assume office June 16 next year to replace Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, who has been prosecutor since 2003 and whose term will come to an end.

Ms. Bensouda has served as ICC’s Deputy Prosecutor since September 2004 and worked as a Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she rose to the position of senior legal adviser and head of the legal advisory unit.

The consultations for nominations lasted four weeks and included a series of meetings of the New York Working Group of the Bureau, where the four candidates shortlisted by the search committee were given the opportunity to present themselves to States Parties.

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Breaking: Herman Cain Suspends Campaign

Herman Cain announced he is suspending his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination.

“One of the first declarations that I want to make to you today is that I am at peace with my God. I am at peace with my wife, and she is at peace with me,” he said.

Mr. Cain said the decision was a result of the “cloud of doubt” that had been cast over his family in light of what he called false allegations.

Mr. Cain’s once-surging bid for the nomination began to falter in recent weeks after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced.

Most recently, Ginger White of Atlanta claimed that she and Mr. Cain, who is married, had carried on a thirteen-year affair.

Mr. Cain this week told a newspaper he had repeatedly given White money to help her with “month-to-month bills and expenses,” but he denied the relationship was sexual.

Mr. Cain told staffers he was assessing his campaign in the wake of the allegation and acknowledged that her account led to a drop in contributions to his campaign.

“Suspending” a campaign allows a candidate to continue raising and spending campaign funds.

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Virginia Legislators Jump Aboard Personhood Train

Pro life legislators in Virginia think it would be a dandy idea to declare that life begins at conception and that fertilized eggs are people.

Undaunted by the Personhood Movement’s overreach in Mississippi, Republican delegate to the Virginia legislature Bob Marshall introduced a bill to the assembly that would redefine life as beginning at conception. The law reads, in part,

unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the commonwealth.

As with other personhood laws (like the one that failed in Mississippi in November and the one introduced in Wisconsin), Virginia’s proposed measure would make all abortion illegal and threaten birth control and some methods of IVF. Unlike the other measures, which were introduced as constitutional amendments, this one is a bill in the legislature, which means the people have no say in whether it becomes law.

This law looks like it has a good chance of passing; Virginia’s legislative branch is heavily Republican.

Even if it does pass, it’s unlikely the law will take effect. Someone will file a lawsuit challenging it, a judge will issue an injunction barring enforcement of the law until the trial, the verdict will be appealed no matter what the outcome, and this will continue until some court refuses to hear it or the law is repealed by a new set of legislators.

When all is said and done, Virginia will spend a ton of money on something that amounts to a source for sound bytes for politicians who want to show their pro-life constituents that they love pre-babies so much and they’re willing to prove it.

Via Jezebel.

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Mississippi Rejects “Personhood” Amendment

A constitutional amendment that defined a fertilized egg as a person failed on the ballot in Mississippi on Tuesday, dealing the so-called “personhood” movement another blow.
Amendment 26 supporter Sandy Comer puts out a campaign sign at the polls at the Chamber of Commerce in Oxford, Mississippi on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman)

Mississippi would have become the first state to define a fertilized egg as a person, a measure aimed at outlawing abortion in the state.

In the end, those concerns about unintended consequences of the law won in a strongly anti-abortion state. That measure could have criminalized birth control, affected in vitro fertilization practices, and led doctors declining to give pregnant cancer patients with chemotherapy for fear of legal repercussions.

The measure earned the support of both parties in Mississippi, including both parties’ nominees for governor.

“Personhood” supporters had tried to pass a similar measure in Colorado in 2008 and 2010, but voters in that state rejected it more than two-to-one both times.

The “personhood” movement is a more aggressive maneuver than many anti-choice advocates prefer.

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Discrimination Case against Wal-Mart Refiled in California

A protest in Utah against Wal-Mart

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On Thursday, four months after the Supreme Court tossed out their class-action lawsuit, lawyers representing women claiming that Wal-Mart discriminated against them filed a new lawsuit that narrowed their claims to the California stores of the chain.

The lawyers promised an “armada” of other lawsuits making discrimination claims in other regions of the country. “The case we are starting today is the first of many,” said Brad Seligman, one of the lead plaintiff lawyers.

In rejecting the earlier lawsuit, the Supreme Court found that the plaintiffs, who sought back pay for 1.5 million women nationwide, failed to prove that the legal and factual issues involving those women had enough in common to be examined as a single class.

The new suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, contends that discriminatory practices on pay and promotion affected 90,000 women employed at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores in California and neighboring states.

Wal-Mart dismissed the lawsuit as more of the same.

In its June ruling in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, the Supreme Court did not decide whether Wal-Mart discriminated against women. Instead, the Court concluded the suit did not satisfy requirements that the people in the class had questions of law or fact in common.

Joseph M. Sellers, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said the new lawsuit was tailored to discuss the Supreme Court’s concerns.

The lawsuit describes Wal-Mart’s California region being governed by a “good old boy philosophy” where job opportunities were passed along word-of-mouth, usually to men. One California regional vice president, for instance, suggested that women did not seek management positions because of their “family commitments,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit suggests that such attitudes were pervasive company wide.

The origins of the suit date to 1999, when Stephanie Odle was fired after complaining that she was discriminated against because of her sex. She discovered that a male employee with the same job and less experience was making $23,000 a year more than she was.

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How to Chip Away at Abortion Rights without Making Abortion Illegal

Albert Wynn and Gloria Feldt at the U.S. Supre...

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Last week’s passage of the “Let Women Die” Act capped off a year characterized by a number of abortion restricting bills.

Since Roe v. Wade has withstood decades of legal challenges, the next abortion laws won’t take on Roe v. Wade directly; rather, they’ll attempt to chip away at a woman’s right to bodily autonomy by eliminating funding, redefining “life,” and harassing doctors who provide abortions.

Federal law prohibits tax money from providing coverage for abortion services, but this hasn’t stopped states from cutting funding from clinics that refer women to places that offer abortions or that segregate the part of their operation that provides abortions from the part of their organization that provides preventive care.

The New York Times reports that Texas, under the leadership of now-Presidential candidate Rick Perry, chose to cut family planning funding by two-thirds. As a result, women’s health clinics around the state have closed their doors. Similar “budget cutting” measures have passed in several states.

Texas is also attempting to dissuade women from having abortions by forcing them to listen to a doctor describe a sonogram.

Ohio is debating a so-called “Heartbeat Bill” that would outlaw all abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which happens at around 6 weeks’ gestation (Roe v. Wade allows abortions to occur at any time before fetal viability, which happens around the twenty-second week).

Mississippi is allowing its voters to decide on an amendment that would define “personhood” as beginning at conception, which would outlaw all forms of abortion, throw into question the legality of hormonal birth control, and prevent women who are experiencing pregnancy complications from receiving life-saving care.

Time‘s Adam Cohen notes that not all states are going as far as Ohio, Texas, and Mississippi in confronting Roe v. Wade. The hottest trend among anti-choicers is pushing legislation that requires abortion-seeking women to listen to the fetal heartbeat before deciding to end their pregnancies. Michele Bachmann has introduced a bill at the federal level called The Heartbeat Informed Consent Act, which would require all women seeking abortion to listen to the balls of cells in their uteruses pulse before deciding on abortion. A national anti-choice group claims they’re planning on introducing heartbeat legislation in all fifty states over the course of the next year.

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is in hot water for his obsession with destroying the life of murdered abortion provider Dr. Tiller. Kline spent years using his position as A.G. to target and bully Tiller. Last week, a disciplinary panel in the state recommended he have his law license revoked. During Kline’s six years in office, however, he had staff record license numbers of patients at the clinic and then subpoenaed the DMV for the identities of the cars’ owners. He also used data that he knew was flawed to justify his investigations into the clinic, and he stored medical records acquired from the clinic in an unsecured garage, among other things. Kline says he regrets nothing in his pursuit of Tiller.

Via Jezebel.

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