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Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost. The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance.

Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1
Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot. SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy." "We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event. SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color.

Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling
An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1. The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy.

UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case
The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case. UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015.

North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1
Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall. The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies. Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception.

North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions
The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately. The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement.

Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People
A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state. Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations. More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls.

The Japanese Government is Being Sued for Institutional Sexism
For the first time, the Japanese government is being sued by a civil servant for "institutional sexism." The plaintiff, who asked not to be identified, is alleging that the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry, where she has worked in her current position since 1996, has unlawfully withheld promotions and pay increases - because she is a woman.

Ohio Officials Threaten to Close Cincinnati's Last Remaining Abortion Clinic
Ohio's TRAP law may soon force the last remaining abortion clinic in the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area to close, leaving an estimated 2.1 million people without access to a comprehensive reproductive healthcare site. Planned Parenthood's Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center received a notice earlier this week from state health officials threatening to shut down the facility for failure to obtain a transfer agreement with a local private hospital. Last year, Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) signed into law a requirement that abortion clinics obtain a written agreement with a local hospital willing to take patients from the clinic in an emergency, despite the fact that emergencies are extremely rare and hospital emergency rooms must already accept patients.

Campus Sexual Assault Survey Finds One in Six MIT Women Are Survivors
One in six women at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have experienced some form of sexual assault, but only 5 percent have reported it, according to the results of a survey released Monday. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology emailed its nearly 11,000 graduate and undergraduate students a survey on campus sexual assault in April, only days before the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released its first report.

Tennessee OB/GYNs Urge Voters to Reject Amendment 1
A coalition of local doctors is urging Tennesseans to vote no on Amendment 1, an anti-abortion ballot measure that one doctor called "a setback for women's rights." During a press conference at a Planned Parenthood facility in Nashville last week, one obstetrician-gynecologist warned that Amendment 1 would give politicians the right to make medical decisions they aren't qualified to make. "Supporting Amendment 1 will erode a woman's fundamental right to autonomous decision-making and privacy regarding her own health care," Dr.

Mullah Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Rape Under Afghanistan's EVAW Law
Judge Mohammad Suliman Rasuli sentenced Mullah Mohammad Amin - a religious leader from Afghanistan - to 20 years in prison Saturday for the rape of a 10-year-old girl in Kunduz province. Mullah Amin admitted to having sex with the girl, whose name has not been released, but claimed that the child had seduced him.

Disparities Persist for Women of Color in States with the Smallest Wage Gaps
Newly released US Census data shows the wage gap for African American and Latina women is worse in some areas where the overall gender wage gap is small. The gender wage gap in Washington, DC is overall the smallest in the country - but, according to analysis by the National Women's Law Center, it turns out the wage gap for African American women in the District is the second worst in the entire country.

Thousands of Women in Iran Protest Acid Attacks in Wake of Religious Law
On Wednesday, thousands of Iranians in the historic city of Isfahan gathered to protest recent acid attacks on women.

Potential Ballot Measure in DC Would Raise Minimum Wage to $15
Low-wage workers in Washington, DC might see a significant increase in their pay, thanks to national labor rights group Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC). This month, the DC Board of Elections approved language submitted by a local chapter of ROC to raise the minimum wage in the District to $15/hour by 2019.

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