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1/22/1998 - Clinton Supports Abortion Rights
On the eve of the 25th Anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade President Clinton declared his support of abortion rights. "I’m committed to keeping abortion safe, legal and accessible and to making it more rare." Clinton has supported funding for sex education and has backed a law protecting clinics from violence. "I will continue to do everything I can to make sure that every child in America is a wanted child, raised in a loving strong family," he said.
As the President’s remarks were made public members of Operation Rescue were taking a public tour of the White House. Each member of the militant anti-abortion group wore T-shirts bearing a picture of an aborted fetal head, with slogans reading, "America’s Holocaust" and "These are the children of Hillary’s village."
Although Roe V. Wade may not be in immediate danger, anti-abortion strategies to eliminate abortion in the US through restrictive laws are working. Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, commented on the increasing difficulty of gaining access to an abortion. "We could easily face a world in which the legal right to choose is very solid, but women have no access to exercise their choice if that’s what they wish to do," said Feldt.
1/22/1998 - Study Finds Working Couples Enjoy Benefits
A study released by the non-profit organization Catalyst found that wives and husbands who both worked believed that the arrangement had a positive affect on their careers and that they could adequately cope with work and home responsibilities. The study is based on surveys of close to one thousand dual-career earners who represent 45 percent of the workforce and 60 percent of all marriages in 1996.
"A significant portion of the U.S. labor force finds economic independence, security, and satisfaction in the family’s second income," stated Catalyst president Sheila Wellington. The study revealed that two-thirds of the families believed that having a two-career marriage gave them the freedom to leave their current job if they were not satisfied with conditions.
The respondents listed being able to turn down promotions with the possibility of accepting in the future, being able to move within the organization for development, staying in one position for a longer period of time, turning down relocation and accepting in the future as well as being able to specialize as important elements of a career. Men and women both agreed that freedom related to family circumstances in arrival and departure time, and telecommuting options were also necessary benefits of a position.
Although more men reported their own careers as principal, a significant percentage also claimed that they made accommodations for their wives in cases of home and childcare emergencies.
Catalyst, which works to promote advancement of women within business, will release the study, Two Careers, One Marriage: Making it Work in the Workplace, in mid-February.
Pro-choice activists rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court on Tuesday during a Speak Out held by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights League (NARAL). Eight women and one man gathered to tell their stories of how abortion affected their lives to a crowd composed of pro-choice and anti-abortion supporters.
Speakers included Carol Wall, who gave similar testimony during the Senate subcommittee hearing, Kate Michelman, president of NARAL, who spoke of her own abortion as "one of the most moral decisions I ever made," and Rabbi Donald Webber, whose wife had an abortion 14 years ago when the fetus was found to be seriously ill. Webber claimed that abortion rights were also religious rights. "When one religious position can bully their way into America as they are bullying their way into us today, we are all in danger."
Anti-abortion militants were few in number, but made their presence felt, heckling the speakers with comments from a bull horn and shouts from the crowd. Rev. Philip Benham, Operation Rescue’s national president commented, "This court stands in contempt of the God almighty."
In a hearing held by chairman Senator John Ashcroft of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, two women, Norma McCorvey (alias Jane "Roe") and Carol Wall, spoke of their experiences with abortion. Norma McCorvey declared, "I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name." McCorvey, who had worked in abortion clinics for years, changed her position in 1995, and is now the director of the Roe No More Ministry in Dallas.
McCorvey read testimony of her experience with abortion, admitting to having lied about her circumstances as a gang rape victim during the Roe trial in 1973. McCorvey concluded her statement declaring, "I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name. It is my sincere prayer that there be no 30th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade."
Carol Wall spoke of the abortion she obtained in Mexico in 1966. She recalled the $800 dollar procedure in an unmarked house and the death note she wrote to her husband and children before the surgery in case she did not return. Wall said her pro-choice views stem from teachings that she should "help others the way you would want to be helped."
Ashcroft led discussions with other panel members regarding fetal viability, the pain threshold of a fetus, and the legal definitions of a fetus and baby.
Feminist News Stories on Abortion
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against three women in sex discrimination cases. The Supreme Court let stand the rulings of earlier appellate court decisions which found that the women had not suffered from sex discrimination on the job.
The women, an ambitious meat cutter, a faculty member seeking tenure and a car sales consultant, all tried to prove that they were sexually discriminated against. Previous Supreme Court rulings have left the definition of sexual discrimination vague.
To prove discrimination on the basis of sex the victim must first present evidence of discrimination, the employer then offers an explanation or denies the alleged discrimination, the victim then must prove that the explanation is "pretext,” an attempt by the employer to disguise the discrimination.
Conservatives in Congress are attempting to stall the confirmation of David Satcher as surgeon general due to his support of abortion rights. Senator John D. Ashcroft (R-Mo.) is leading the fight to delay Satcher's nomination, with support from the conservative journal Human Events, the Christain Coalition and the Family Research Council.
Ashcroft stated, "Dr. Satcher joins with the president in support of 'partial birth' abortion, a position that places him squarely at odds with the professional and ethical judgement of the American Medical Association." However, the AMA and the American Academy of Family Physicians "enthusiastically" supports Satcher's nomination, claiming that he will "bring a wealth of experience from both the private and public sectors to the office."
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Randy Tate, director of the Christain Coaltion, urged Lott to delay Satcher's confirmation. Lott should, "exercise leardership in the U.S. Senate and defend these innocent children by defeating this nomination," said Tate.
1/21/1998 - Woman Appointed to New United Nations Position
United Nations chief Kofi Annan appointed Louise Frechette as the new U.N. deputy secretary-general, the second-highest post in the U.N. Frechette, Canada's former deputy defense minister, had served as a U.N. ambassador from 1992 to 1994.
Frechette will aid Annan in managing UN operations and represent the secretary-general at conferences, among other duties. The newly created position is intended to help address inefficiency within the U.N. system.
Frechette, who also served as Canada's ambassador to Argentina and its deputy foreign minister for Latin America and the Caribbean, plans to help the U.N. "keep up with the times." "I think there's a great challenge for the United Nations in defining its role in the future," stated Frechette.
1/21/1998 - Abusive Husband Murders Wife
A man who was already on probation for domestic violence murdered his wife with a hatchet. Pui Kei Wong and Nga Seong Wong had "seemed to get along," said neighbors, despite Mr. Wong's guilty plea to battery after slapping his wife in the company of a police officer.
Wong became suspicious of his wife, whom he believed was having an affair, and attacked her with a hatchet on the front porch of their Hollywood, Florida home. Neighbors were too horrified to intercede. A member of the family stated, "we are asking ourselves why it happened. I could not prevent what happened."
Maryland legislators have proposed a law that would incarcerate criminals who have committed sexual violence crimes indefinitely. The proposed law pertains to those who have a record of violent sexual acts against women and children. Before release from the original sentence the criminal would undergo a civil proceeding by the Department of Correction, who would decided whether to commit the felon to a mental institution.
The proposed Maryland law stems from a Kansas law which was supported by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. Attorney General J. Joseph Jr. said, "I'd like Maryland citizens to have these same protections."
The Supreme Court decision was based on the rape and slaying of a 20-year-old women who was murdered by a man who had been released from prison eight years earlier after serving 10 years for rape.
1/20/1998 - British Consider Updating Abortion Laws
Great Britain’s health secretary Frank Dobson has issued support for abortion laws that would make it easier for women to gain access to an abortion in early pregnancy. Currently, Britain’s abortion laws require a woman to get two doctors to verify that a continued pregnancy would be more damaging to the woman’s health than an abortion.
Although Dobson was quoted as saying that the Labor Party has no plans to change the current law, Ann Furedi, director of the Birth Control Trust, stated changes in the law were past due. “Britain is one of the few developed countries that does not have a law allowing abortion on request in early pregnancy,” said Furedi.
1/20/1998 - Acquitted Man Kills First and Second Wife
A man who was previously acquitted for shooting his first wife 17 years ago was found dead after shooting his second wife and then himself. Robert Nolan claimed that he was driven insane when he saw his first wife having sex with another man and shot them both. Nolan was let off on a mistrial when the jury deadlocked, and was acquitted during the second trial and sentenced with outpatient therapy.
The second wife, Kimberly Nolan, had recently filed for divorce on the grounds of “extreme cruelty,” citing mental abuse and manipulation. Mrs. Nolan had been advised to enter a woman’s shelter, but declined, fearing disruption of her children’s lives.
Domestic Violence Information Center
Irma van Praag and Anna Kreuger became the first lesbian couple to use the Netherlands’ national “Registration of Partnership.” The registry became available on January 1 with a two-week waiting period after filing, and entitles gay and lesbian couples to all the advantages of a legal marriage, with the exception of joint adoption.
The extension of marriage laws is currently under review by the government and has already been approved by the Netherlands’ Parliament. New marriage laws are expected to be in place by May of 1998.
Feminist News Stories on Same-Sex Marriage
1/20/1998 - British Women to Serve in Combat
Army chiefs in England have decided to allow women to serve on the front lines in combat. The army and the Military of Defense are endorsing a “principle of sexual parity,” in response to national opinions which favor equality for the sexes in all roles. “We recognize the social trends of the country, and although our major concern is our combat effectiveness, we still have to represent the nation,” said a Military of Defense representative.
Opponents of the new law worry that the move is premature. They are concerned that the nation will not react favorably to women being killed in combat and that the army will not remain a strong force ready to defend in a time of need.
Currently, women serve in 42% of the British army’s 136 categories. This spring women will be admitted into 70% of the categories, while “gender-free” selection tests become the norm.
Lee County Sheriff John McDougall of Florida denied assistance to an abortion doctor whose clinics were being ambushed by protesters, stating instead that he would “assist the protesters.” Dr. Ali Azima had sent a letter to McDougall concerning a prayer vigil and other incidents that were being held outside his clinics. McDougall responded that he would uphold his duty to protect all citizens, “even a baby killer like yourself,” and went on to add that his office would “do everything within our power to assist the protesters who wish to protect the misguided mothers who come to your clinic of death.”
Two Florida doctors and a clinic escort were murdered by anti-abortion extremists in 1993 and 1994.
Feminist News Stories on Clinic Violence
The Citadel will accept forty-three women into its halls for the 1998-99 school year. This is the third year that the school has been required by a Federal Court ruling to open its doors to women. Only twenty women were accepted last year.
Since the ruling, one woman has dropped out citing sexual assault and two others left due to hazing by upperclassmen.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and poet Maya Angelou will be inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. Twenty-one new inductees will join 136 Americans previously honored in the hall for making contributions to society and to the progress and freedom of women.
Albright served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before accepting the appointment as the first woman secretary of state in 1996. Maya Angelou is best known for her autobiographical novel, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" and her poem, "On the Pulse of the Morning," which she read at the 1993 presidential inauguration.
New inductees also include astronaut Shannon Lucid, opera start Beverly Sills, nuclear scientist Chien-Shiung Wu and Bradley University founder Lydia Moss Bradley. Their induction slated for July 1998, will mark the 150th anniversary of the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York.
1/19/1998 - First VMI Female Cadet Leaves Military School
The first woman to attend the Virginia Military Institute has left the school. Beth Ann Hogan became the first woman to enroll after 158 years of all-male membership in the public school. VMI was forced to grant entrance to women after a six year battle in the courts, which ended in a Supreme Court decision that VMI would admit women or turn private.
Of the 430 men and 30 women, 65 men and 5 women have voluntarily dropped out this year. A high rate of attrition is normal for a freshman class who are called rats and are required to endure six months of ritualized abuse and hazing by upperclassmen and superiors. The freshman graduate from the Rat Line in February after successful completion of an obstacle course accompanied with physical and mental abuse.
The Republican National Committee defeated a resolution that would have denied party funds to candidates who do not oppose partial-birth abortion. The "litmus test" proposal was replaced by a resolution which maintained the Republican Party's opposition to partial-birth abortion and denounced President Clinton for vetoing laws which would have outlawed the procedure.
The "litmus test" resolution was anti-abortion activists' response to the Republican Party's decision to support New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. Whitman, an abortion rights supporter, vetoed state legislation which would have banned partial-birth abortion and received more than $1.5 million in her reelection campaign funds from the Republican Party.
The partial-birth resolution was opposed by RNC chairman Jim Nicholson and key Republicans, Newt Gingrich and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde. Opposition leaders worried that a "litmus-test" ban would alienate women and minorities from the Republican Party. Despite the substitute resolution which reaffirmed the Republican Party's anti-abortion platform, Ann Stone, chairman of Republicans for Choice, said "pro-choice Republicans are welcome and are a key part of the Republican majority."
A new study suggests that not only do women outlive men, but they have more years of healthy life to look forward to. The survey, conducted by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, is based on telephone surveys of U.S. Adults. Health-risk behavior and preventive healthcare were among the topics discussed. Although men scored slightly higher on the quality-of-life index, women have an average of 2-3 more years of healthy life than men. The survey measured information related to sickness, disability and death.
Holly Pera became the first female homicide detective in the city of San Francisco, California on Monday. Pera joined the 149-year-old department after serving 18 years as a police officer. When Pera joined the SFPD in 1980 she was one of 20 women (.01%) in a force of 1,800. Almost twenty years later, there are 300+ women out of 2,000 police employees, or about 15%.
Pera, who was also the first woman in the department’s southern station and the first female inspector in the juvenile unit, said that things have changed, “but I still think it’s a man’s world.”
House Speaker Newt Gingrich opposes of the proposed “litmus test” resolution, which Republicans will vote on in the annual meeting of the Republican National Committee. Gingrich urged Republicans to allow for other views within their party. The “litmus test” resolution proposed by Tim Lambert would deny funding to any party candidates who do not publicly oppose partial-birth abortion. Other Republicans who oppose the measure include Party Chairman Jim Nicholson and three former party chairmen. Republican Party members worry that the RNC’s debate is emphasizing division among the party, and could contribute to the loss of women and minority party members.
1/16/1998 - Sexual Harassment Punishable in Thailand
Women in Thailand will soon be able to sue for sexual harassment in the workplace. The law prohibits employers and superiors from harassing women through words or actions. Violators will be fined $375. The new regulations are part of a labor protection law awaiting signature by the King. Although the wording is vague, allowing the courts to decide what constitutes sexual harassment, Thai women seem pleased. Sen. Saisuree Chutkul, a Thailand legislator, said, “This law warns men to be aware. We have dignity, we are also human beings. Sexual harassment is just not right.”
Washington D.C.- Eleanor Smeal, national feminist leader and one of the nation's leading experts on anti-abortion terrorism, released the results of the Feminist Majority Foundation's annual National Clinic Violence Survey Report, the most comprehensive study of anti-abortion violence in the United States and its territories. The 1997 National Clinic Violence Survey also includes a five-year analysis of trends in anti-abortion violence.
The 1997 survey shows that in the first seven months of 1997, 24.8% of clinics experienced one or more forms of severe violence including blockades, invasions, bomb threats, and bombings, arson threats and arsons, chemical attacks, death threats, and stalking. This percentage is slightly down from 27.6% in 1996 and sharply down from its high mark 51.9% in 1994. Severe violence still plagues about 25% of clinics nationwide, and is becoming more concentrated.
Smeal explained, "Public opinion supporting legal abortion in the United States is solidly pro-choice. Anti-abortion extremists are trying to win in the streets a battle that they can not win in the political arena. The strategy of the violent wing of the anti-abortion movement is a stealth 'war of attrition' - extremists target one clinic, attempt to wipe it out or close it down, and then, move on to another. The fact that one-quarter of the women's health clinics in this country are battered day after day with violence, harassment, and intimidation is unconscionable. We must have zero tolerance for domestic terrorism."
Smeal continued, "We fear that neither the public nor the press fully comprehend the gravity of this war of attrition and will accept violence at abortion clinics as part of the normal landscape. In 1997 there were thirteen bombings or arsons at abortion clinics -- thirteen incidents of serious domestic terrorism including, for the first time, a second bomb aimed at law enforcement, which is a classic terrorism tactic. If this strategy wins on the abortion front, you bet these extremists will use it to attack the lesbian, gay, and civil rights communities and as we saw in Atlanta, the federal government itself."
The survey results also indicate that the percentage of clinics reporting "no violence" has nearly doubled from 33.3% of clinics in 1994 to 61.1% in 1997. The vigilance of the pro-choice community and the increased responsiveness of law enforcement coupled with the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) has contributed to the dramatic decrease in levels of violence over the past five years.
Once again, the 1997 National Clinic Violence Survey found a strong correlation between lower levels of violence and better law enforcement response. Of clinics that reported law enforcement response as "excellent" in 1997, only 7.5% experienced high levels of violence, compared with 35.7% of clinics that characterized local law enforcement as "poor." Smeal explained, "We are encouraged by the impact of improved law enforcement response in reducing clinic violence. Working together, we have won major battles to protect clinics and have dramatically reduced the proportion of clinics that experience day to day violence and harassment. We call upon every law enforcement officer, every citizen, and every political organization to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards this stealth war of attrition, which is being waged against one quarter of our nation's abortion clinics."
Editor's Note: Copies of the Feminist Majority's 1997 National Clinic Violence Survey Report: A Five Year Analysis of Anti-Abortion Violence Trends are available by calling the Feminist Majority Foundation at 703-522-2214 or visiting the Feminist Majority Foundation Online at /research/cvsurveys/1997/cvsurv_index97.html. The Feminist Majority Foundation operates the National Clinic Access Project, the oldest clinic access project in the nation.
1/15/1998 - Breast Cancer Risk Ignored by Older Women
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that half of all African-American women 65 or older do not have regular mammograms, despite findings African-American women constitute half the breat cancer deaths among women.
The study explored the breast cancer views of 253 women, including their basic knowledge, views on the benefits of mammography, barriers to getting screened and personal experiences.
Authors report a wide range of understanding concerning breast cancer, “In our sample, the majority of women (76%) knew that not all breast lumps are cancerous, but fewer than half (42%) knew that early breast cancer is not usually painful; 37% knew breast cancer does not necessarily lead to mastectomy,” the authors stated.
Researchers reported that telling women to get mammograms is not enough. Addressing fears and providing information need to be the first steps taken in combating this disease.
A lesbian and gay rights bill that would require California employers to provide equal pay and benefits to workers with spouses or domestic partners was shot down by a state senate committee in a 4-2 vote. Four democrats opposed, abstained or did not attend the hearing. Supporters blame reelection fears.
Art Croney of the Committee on Moral Concerns commented, “Domestic partners are adult friends. They are nothing more than that. Domestic partners are not dependent on one another. They are free to find a better job.”