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1/14/1998 - NARAL Reports Abortion Endangered at State Level

Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) reported that abortion rights groups are losing ground in the war at the state level to keep abortion legal and accessible in the U.S., according to an annual survey. “We’re not losing the war but the other side’s gaining ground. The strategy of the anti-choice movement to shift from a broad public attempt to overturn Roe in favor of a more incremental approach is working,” said Michelman.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs. Casey, which called for a mandatory waiting period for women requesting abortion, 12 states have enforced a waiting period and 30 states now require parental consent for minors seeking abortion. The survey also found that 31 states have passed 55 anti-abortion measures in 1997, compared with 14 in 1996, while state legislators introduced a minimum of 405 anti-abortion measures in 97, an increase of 84 percent over the previous year.

“It is our hope that as we move into the new millennium, instead of enacting a proliferation of laws restricting abortion, lawmakers will turn their attention to addressing the crisis of unintended pregnancy and to reducing the need for abortion overall,” Michelman said.


1/14/1998 - Dow Chemical Guilty, 1,800 Women Can File Suit

A new ruling allows 1,800 women to file individual suits against the Dow Chemical Co. for illness caused by Dow Corning’s silicone breast implants. The suit states that Dow Chemical tested silicone compounds for Dow Corning, and withheld information concerning possible dangerous side-effects of the silicone.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Dawn Barrios said, “Each of these 1,800 women can walk into court with a verdict that says Dow chemical is guilty. They do not have to prove Dow’s conduct.” Dow Corning filed for bankruptcy in 1995 because of lawsuits related to the implants.


1/14/1998 - Religious Leaders Support Women’s Right to Choose

Religious leaders are launching a “Week of Faith in Choice” in commemoration of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision legalizing abortion 25 years ago. “Thousands of American clergy and millions of religious Americans believe in a woman’s right to choose when and whether to have children,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt.

From January 16 to the 25th, clergy and congregations from a variety of faiths will hold ceremonies and demonstrations to support a woman’s right to choose. Theological discussions on the basis, ethics, and personal religious principles of choice are also expected. “‘A Week of Faith in Choice’ provides an opportunity for pro-choice religious Americans to gather as one and express their gratitude and support for a woman’s right to choose,” said Reverend Tom Davis, chair of the Planned Parenthood Clergy Advisory Board.

The Planned Parenthood Pro-Choice Religious Network, organizers of the “Week of Faith in Choice,” and clergy hope the event will remind the public that religious leaders have been supporters of the right to choose from the beginning. Clergy “have been long-time advocates for improved access to family planning services and for safe, legal abortion,” said Feldt.

In 1967 when abortion was illegal, clergy formed the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion to provide information and support to women who needed safe abortions. In 1970 New York City clergy opened the first abortion clinic.


1/14/1998 - Pregnant State Senator Will Work from Home

The Kentucky Senate voted 28-4 to allow Sen. Julie Rose, R-Louisville to work via interactive TV while she recuperates from a Cesarean section birth. The new rule will allow Rose to present bills, participate in discussions and vote in committee meetings, and applies to any senator with a short-term medical condition.


1/14/1998 - Women’s Groups Blow Whistle on Peruvian Sterilization Program

Women’s groups in Peru are blowing the whistle on an alleged conspiracy by the Peruvian government to sterilize women. A study by Flora Tristan Women’s Center found that poor women are offered free birth services in exchange for agreeing to a tubal ligation. News reports have stated that women are also being offered food and medical services in exchange for the irreversible procedure. Activists assert that quotas have been set by the health ministry requiring state doctors in poor areas to perform sterilizations.

State doctors performed 110,000 sterilizations in 1997. Five women died because of the operation, dozens suffer from problems incurred during the procedure, and several cases of women being sterilized during a Cesarean section without their knowledge have been reported.

“Poor women are not cattle to be sterilized by the thousands without telling them what is being done,” said health care worker Nela Julcarine. Members of the Peruvian government deny all allegations of a conspiracy, although two doctors have been fired and investigations are underway.


1/13/1998 - Mitsubishi Vice President Resigns Over Sexual Harassment Deception

Mitsubishi’s vice president and general manager of human resources, Arthur Zintek, resigned when he was asked to deceive the media about the company’s response to past sexual harassment claims. Zinteck was to comment on the progress of steps taken to remedy the environment of sexual harassment within the company. Zintek stated, “I have been coached to imply a degree of change within our organization based upon implementing the ‘Recommendations’ which doesn’t exist.” Zintek cited the best interests of the company, the morale of the employees and values for his decision not to participate in the “deception.”

The resignation letter will be included as evidence by the EEOC that the case should be tried as a “pattern and practice” lawsuit. This procedure allows the EEOC to sue on behalf of a class of women, rather than try each case separately.

The EEOC’s case against Mitsubishi, filed in April 1996, contends that more than 300 of the plants 4,000 employees have been harassed. Offensive behavior has encompassed everything from insulting remarks to threats of sexual assault and murder.


1/13/1998 - GOP Opposition to Abortion “Litmus Test” Increases

Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill, speaking on behalf of himself and Rep. Charles Canady, R-FL., sent a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman James Nicholson claiming that the proposed “litmus test” proposal would only amount to a “serious tactical error, and [be] very unhelpful to our cause.”

Hyde and Canady, both major anti-abortion supporters, stated that a ban on funds to candidates who support partial-birth abortions would impede the Republican Party’s ability to “convert” votes within the Senate on pro-life legislation. “In politics, you win by addition, and we need every Republican vote we can muster,” said Hyde.

Despite appeals from the RNC Chairmen and Capitol Hill, Gov. Frank Keating, vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, joined proponents of the “litmus test.” Arguments within the GOP grow more fierce as the Republican National Committee prepares to meet later this week in Palm Springs, CA.


1/13/1998 - More Clinics to Offer RU-486 Clone Abortion Pill

Montefiore Hospital in Bronx, NY and Dobbs Ferry clinic in Westchester County, NY recently began distributing the U.S. version of the French abortion pill RU-486. Other physicians and clinics providing access to this medical method of early abortion are located in NYC, Montana, San Francisco and Seattle. Abortion Rights Mobilization, which is conducing the trial through which the drug is available, released names and phone numbers of all the clinics and hospitals to family planning and women’s rights groups.

Sixteen hundred women have thus far been treated in the trials. ARM plans to treat at least 10,000 women in a FDA approved research project. A forthcoming study of 1,728 cases found a 97 percent success rate using a lower dosage than the pills used in Europe.


1/13/1998 - U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Gay and Lesbian Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a case brought by Robin Shahar, who was denied a job when her plan to wed another woman was discovered. An appeals court ruling that Shahar’s first Amendment rights were not violated was left in place by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Former Georgia Attorney General Michael J. Bowers had offered Shahar a staff attorney post upon her completion of law school in 1991. When Bowers heard about the wedding, he retracted the offer, stating that, “inaction on my part would constitute tacit approval of this purported marriage and jeopardize the proper functioning of this office.” Bowers cited Georgia’s sodomy law as basis for his decision, despite his own confession that in 1997 he had participated in an adulterous affair, which is also illegal in Georgia.

Shahar’s lawyers also argued that the U.S. Constitution prevents government employees from firing a lesbian because she plans to hold a private religious ceremony.


1/13/1998 - Hormone Replacement Therapy Replaced by Soy

Italian researchers report that isolated soy proteins may soon replace Hormone Replacement Therapy. The study, published in Obstetrics and Gynecology reported a 45 percent decrease in hot flashes among women. However further testing is need to confirm the findings, given that women taking placebos reported a 30% reduction in hot flashes. Researchers also cite minimal hot flashes among Japanese women, who consume close to 200 milligrams per day of foods containing phytoestrogens, the soy ingredient which is thought to decrease negative menopausal affects.


1/13/1998 - U.S. Debt to U.N. Increases Over Abortion Debate

U.S. Congress continues to deadlock over requests for money from the United Nations due to arguments over funding for international family planning organizations. Anti-abortion members of Congress are attempting to prohibit non-governmental organizations that receive international funds from lobbying for abortion rights in their countries.

The ongoing debate began in 1997, when foreign policy initiatives, including billions of dollars in overdue payments to the UN, were obstructed by the conservative Congress which refused to distribute money that might filter to family planning organizations that provide abortions or information concerning reproductive choices.


1/13/1998 - Pro-Choice Leaders to Release New Anti-Choice Violence Reports on the Eve of the Roe v. Wade 25th Anniversary

Three Leading National Organizations Will Reveal New Trends in Anti-Choice Terrorism and Assess the Effectiveness of Current Strategies to Reduce Anti-Choice Violence






Who: Gloria Feldt, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Vicki Saporta, Executive Director, National Abortion Federation
Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation

What: Representatives of the Feminist Majority Foundation, PPFA, and NAF will present 1997 violence and disruption statistics and assess current trends in anti-choice violence against abortion providers.

When: Thursday, January 15, 1998 at 9:30 a.m.

Where: National Press Club (Zenger Room), 13th and G Street, NW (near Metro Center), Washington, D.C.


1/12/1998 - Conservative Women’s Campus Group Creates Backlash Against Feminism

Members of the Women’s Guild, a conservative Georgetown University women’s group supported by the Independent Women’s Forum, have written a manifesto condemning modern feminism. A Washington Post article deems Georgetown University feminists’ response to this manifesto “unladylike.” Elizabeth Kastor, author of the Post article, reports that Women’s Guild members only “wanted to kindle a debate...hold a couple of public discussions and distribute to every female freshman a pamphlet attacking contemporary feminism.”

The pamphlet entitled, “The Guide: A Little Beige Book for Today’s Miss G,” “declares modern feminism irrelevant to contemporary women and claimed feminists continue to exaggerate the prevalence of rape and anorexia.” The pamphlet urges women to “Take Back the Date,” and to forget relying on intelligence and initiative to move ahead in the world. It instead encourages women to, “try a dash of grace, a flash of charm, a modest flirtation. Remember, the tigress who knows when to roar also knows when to purr.”

Dawn Scheirer, a 21-year-old Georgetown University junior and co-author of the Guide, attributes her boyfriend’s father’s stories “about feminazis” as the source for her current political beliefs concerning women’s struggles.

The Guide stems from a movement against modern feminism, reflected in Christina Hoff Sommers 1994 book, “Who Stole Feminism?.” “There may have been a time for the characterization of women as victims, but now the women’s movement has been stolen by chronically offended, hypersexed, statistically challenged women,” said Sommers at a recent Georgetown Women’s Guild forum.

Feminists on campus are attending the conservative Women’s Guild forums and continue to fight for women’s rights. Sharon Doetsch, a Georgetown grad student and member of the Lesbian Avengers, explains the current movement as a “backlash” against increasing university support for the campus Women’s Center.


1/12/1998 - Conservative Women’s Campus Group Creates Backlash Against Feminism

Members of the Women’s Guild, a conservative Georgetown University women’s group supported by the Independent Women’s Forum, have written a manifesto condemning modern feminism. A Washington Post article deems Georgetown University feminists’ response to this manifesto “unladylike.” Elizabeth Kastor, author of the Post article, reports that Women’s Guild members only “wanted to kindle a debate...hold a couple of public discussions and distribute to every female freshman a pamphlet attacking contemporary feminism.”

The pamphlet entitled, “The Guide: A Little Beige Book for Today’s Miss G,” “declares modern feminism irrelevant to contemporary women and claimed feminists continue to exaggerate the prevalence of rape and anorexia.” The pamphlet urges women to “Take Back the Date,” and to forget relying on intelligence and initiative to move ahead in the world. It instead encourages women to, “try a dash of grace, a flash of charm, a modest flirtation. Remember, the tigress who knows when to roar also knows when to purr.”

Dawn Scheirer, a 21-year-old Georgetown University junior and co-author of the Guide, attributes her boyfriend’s father’s stories “about feminazis” as the source for her current political beliefs concerning women’s struggles.

The Guide stems from a movement against modern feminism, reflected in Christina Hoff Sommers 1994 book, “Who Stole Feminism?.” “There may have been a time for the characterization of women as victims, but now the women’s movement has been stolen by chronically offended, hypersexed, statistically challenged women,” said Sommers at a recent Georgetown Women’s Guild forum.

Feminists on campus are attending the conservative Women’s Guild forums and continue to fight for women’s rights. Sharon Doetsch, a Georgetown grad student and member of the Lesbian Avengers, explains the current movement as a “backlash” against increasing university support for the campus Women’s Center.


1/12/1998 - Acetaminophen May Reduce Risk of Ovarian Cancer

A study published in the British medical journal The Lancet reported a reduced risk of ovarian cancer among women taking a weekly dose of drugs containing acetaminophen. Researchers studied over-the-counter painkiller use by 563 women who had ovarian cancer and 523 healthy women. Of the healthy women, 8.8 percent used painkillers which contained acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, Excedrin, Anacin 3 and Midol, while only 4.6 percent of those with ovarian cancer took such drugs.

Researchers believe that acetaminophen may reduce hormones that stimulate the ovaries. The report did not address some claims that extended use of such drugs may pose serious health risks.


1/12/1998 - Religious Right Supports GOP Pro-Life Litmus Test

Christian Coalition co-leader Randy Tate sent a letter to the GOP’s chairman, Jim Nicholson, urging RNC members to support a “litmus test” resolution. The resolution would deny funds to candidates who “oppose measures to end so-called partial-birth abortions.” Tate’s letter is a response to Nicholson’s request earlier this month to vote against the resolution. Nicholson argued that taking such a hard stance on partial-birth abortion is likely to drive moderates and women away from the conservative Republican Party.

Tate and other religious extremists do not agree with Nicholson’s view. “We understand the need for inclusion, but there are some issues of transcendent moral significance, such as partial-birth abortions, which should be strongly condemned by both word and deed. The resolution before the RNC is just such a deed,” said Tate.

A vote on the resolution will be held during a RNC meeting Palm Springs later this week.


1/12/1998 - Taliban Could Earn $100 Million Per Year Through Pipeline

The Taliban militia group in Afghanistan, which has banned women from working and going to school, would earn between $50 million and $100 million per year in revenues if an oil pipeline is built through Afghanistan by the U.S. oil company Unocal, according to the Washington Post.

Although the Taliban, which controls most of Afghanistan, has not been recognized as the country's official government by the United States, the United Nations, or most other countries, Unocal has already hosted Taliban leaders at a business meeting and started a $900,000 program to train Afghan men to build the pipeline. Unocal said it will begin training women in clerical and teaching jobs soon.

The Feminist Majority and other women's groups fear that plans for the pipeline, which is favored by the Clinton administration, will lead to international recognition of the Taliban and make permanent the gender apartheid of women in Afghanistan. Not only are women banned from working and going to school, but they are also banned from leaving their homes without a close male relative and without being covered head-to-toe in a garment called a "burqa."

About 70% of Kabul residents are women, many of whom are widowed and who have no close male relatives to support and escort them. Women have been shot at for leaving their homes to seek medical care.


1/12/1998 - Drug Makers Recognize Women’s Health and Pocketbooks

Pharmaceutical companies are beginning to discern the potentially lucrative market of women, developing 372 medicines to treat medical problems unique to womenin 1997, a significant increase from the 263 drugs considered in 1991. The Pharmaceutical industry recognizes that women make up two-thirds of 44 million hospital procedures each year, 61% of doctor’s visits, 75% of nursing home residents and 59% of prescription drug purchases.

Although gynecological and reproductive health problems are rarely covered by insurance, breast cancer treatments are among the most researched drugs. Thirteen new contraceptives are under development, including a vaginal ring which would deliver contraceptive hormones for up to a year with no hassle.

New studies on women’s diseases reflect the FDA’s 1993 ruling requiring drug makers to include women in testing and August 1997’s ruling to stop excluding women of childbearing age.


1/12/1998 - Former U.S. Surgeon General Honored for Commitment to Women’s Health Issues

Dr. Jocelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General, was honored by Pharmacia & Upjohn (P&U) with a Women’s Health Achievement Award. In accepting the award, Elders, known for her commitment to women’s health, addressed reproductive issues in the U.S. today saying, “I am disturbed when I see health legislation limiting the information we can give to young people about sexuality and contraception. Reproductive health policy in this country should be comprehensive, not limited.”

“Through her candor and commitment, Dr. Elders has been a lightning rod and a pioneer for reproductive health issues,” said Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Elders, who was fired from her post as Surgeon General in 1994 by President Clinton, continually battled conservatives on the issues of abortion and sex education.


1/12/1998 - Pro-Choice Leaders to Release New Anti-Choice Violence Reports on the Eve of the Roe v. Wade 25th Anniversary

Three Leading National Organizations Will Reveal New Trends in Anti-Choice Terrorism and Assess the Effectiveness of Current Strategies to Reduce Anti-Choice Violence





Who:

Gloria Feldt, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Vicki Saporta, Executive Director, National Abortion Federation
Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority Foundation

What:

Representatives of the Feminist Majority Foundation, PPFA, and NAF will present 1997 violence and disruption statistics and assess current trends in anti-choice violence against abortion providers.

When:

Thursday, January 15, 1998 at 9:30 a.m.

Where:

National Press Club (Zenger Room), 13th and G Street, NW (near Metro Center), Washington, D.C.


1/9/1998 - Kwan First Woman to Earn 6.0 During Short Program

Michelle Kwan became the first woman ever to earn a 6.0 for a short program during the U.S. skating Nationals. Kwan received seven 6.0s, the most at U.S. championships since Brian Boitano recorded eight in 1988.

“'Wow!’ is what I was thinking,” Kwan said, “During the program, I was just taking it step by step but at the end, I was like: ‘Now I can enjoy the moment.”


1/9/1998 - Chinese Woman Jumps from Window to Escape Forced Prostitution

A 23-year-old Chinese woman, Tang Shengli, jumped from a second story window, to avoid being forced into prostitution. “I would like to tell all of society with my own blood that women’s spirit cannot be humiliated,” said Shengli, who is now paralyzed from the waist down.

Shengli and other women were locked in a room, and forced to watch pornographic videos. They were told to study the videos for later use as prostitutes.


1/9/1998 - Baseball’s Canseco Found Guilty in Domestic Violence Case

Jose Canseco of the Oakland Athletics pled no-contest and was found guilty of domestic violence charges. Canseco was arrested in November for hitting his wife. He carries two previous domestic violence charges.

Canseco, who left the courtroom before his case was called, was sentenced to probation and will undergo 26 sessions of battery counseling.


1/9/1998 - Turkish Women's Groups Protest Mandatory Virginity Tests

Women’s organizations are outraged by comments made by Turkey’s Minister of State for Women’s Affairs, Isilay Saygin, supporting forced virginity tests for young women. Saygin called the tests a “necessity." The practice, said Sirin Teteli, the president of women’s rights group, KA-DER, is a “nasty and patriarchal tradition” and has driven women to suicide. Saygin responded, “Girls who have committed suicide because they were forced to take a virginity test would have committed suicide anyway.”

The women's groups said Saygin’s comment is a reflection of oppression based on fundamental tradition and religion in the Middle East. “This is just one manifestation of the fundamental problem, that women are treated as objects of family honor,” Teteli said.


1/9/1998 - NOW Wins Victory in Time for Roe V. Wade Anniversary

Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, has agreed to settle in a lawsuit brought by NOW and two abortion clinics 12 years ago. The permanent injunction agreed to by Terry prohibits him from committing violent acts against clinics, the staff and patients, and from belonging to any groups which commit these acts. Violating this prohibition will result in a $15,000 penalty and would allow NOW to reestablish the lawsuit against him. “This injunction will remove the godfather of the ‘Rescue Racket’ from the streets,” said NOW president Patricia Ireland.

Terry’s compliance is a partial victory in NOW v. Scheidler. The case was initiated by then NOW president Eleanor Smeal, after the President of the local Pensacola NOW chapter was injured during a clinic invasion. NOW filed against Joseph Scheidler of Chicago, his Pro-Life Action League, anti-abortion activists, and later, Terry and Operation Rescue.

The US Supreme Court allowed NOW to present a case against the anti-abortions under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). NOW argued that anti-abortion extremists were hindering interstate commerce by trying to shut down the clinics. In NOW v. Scheidler, NOW represents its own members and all non-member women, “ whose rights to the services of women’s health centers in the United States at which abortions are performed have been or will be interfered with by defendants’ unlawful activities.”