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Virginia Bishops Advocate More Abortion Restrictions for Poor Women
Using the Medicaid expansion debate as a platform, the Virginia Catholic Conference issued a statement Friday calling for the repeal of a Virginia law that allows state funding of abortion care for Medicaid recipients in situations where the fetus exhibits a "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity" or a "gross and totally incapacitating mental deficiency." Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Diocese of Richmond and Bishop Paul Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington authored the statement which urges Virginia lawmakers to act to expand Medicaid to cover more of Virginia's poor.

Activist Monica Jones Found Guilty of Walking While Trans
Trans woman, student, and sex work activist Monica Jones was found guilty Friday of "manifesting prostitution" by a Phoenix, Arizona judge after she accepted a ride with two undercover police officers in May 2013.

Kathleen Sebelius Resigns as Secretary of Health & Human Services
President Barack Obama last week announced the resignation of Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius. Noting that she will "go down in history" for "serving as the Secretary of Health and Human Services when the United States of America finally declared that quality, affordable health care is not a privilege, but it is a right for every single citizen of these United States of America," President Obama praised Secretary Sebelius for guiding the implementation of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA). At least 7.5 million Americans have now signed up for health coverage through health insurance marketplaces created by the ACA.

Advocates Ask Court To Reconsider Texas Admitting Privileges Case
The Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the ACLU of Texas filed a petition last week asking the full US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reexamine the constitutionality of the admitting privileges requirement contained in HB2, Texas' omnibus anti-abortion bill. "We're asking the court to acknowledge what is crystal clear--this law hurts women," said Louise Melling, ACLU deputy legal director.

Philippines Supreme Court Upholds Law Promoting Reproductive Health Access
The Philippines Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the country's Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, also known as the RH Law, is constitutional.

Tennessee Legislature Approves Measure Criminalizing Pregnant Women
The Tennessee state legislature passed SB 1391 Wednesday, a bill that allows women who suffer from drug-related pregnancy complications to be charged with assault and potentially imprisoned. The bill would permit women to be charged with assault - theoretically up to the point of aggravated assault, which incurs a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison - if they have pregnancy complications after using illegal drugs or deliver children with "neonatal abstinence syndrome." The original bill allowed women to be charged with homicide if her fetus or baby died, but was later amended.

Ninth Circuit Blocks Arizona Restrictions on Medication Abortion
In a victory for Arizona women, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has blocked the state's restrictions on medication abortion. The Ninth Circuit issued a temporary injunction late Tuesday preventing Arizona from enforcing new regulations which would have prevented access to medication abortion after seven weeks and forced doctors to use an outdated protocol for administering the medication. "The appeals court has recognized that Arizona women should not be denied access to critical reproductive care while yet another clearly unconstitutional attack on their health and rights makes it way through the courts," said David Brown, a staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is challenging the law with Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Arizona and the Tucson Women's Center. The two clinics filed their legal challenge after the Arizona Department of Health Services issued regulations implementing the medication abortion restrictions that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law in 2012.

Women's Rights Groups Pressure Walmart to Improve Pregnant Worker Policies
Following a class action lawsuit filed by A Better Balance, the National Women's Law Center, and local counsel,Walmart has updated its worker accommodation policy to explicitly make women eligible for a reasonable accommodation if she experiences a temporary disability caused by pregnancy.

Senate Republicans Filibuster Paycheck Fairness Act
The Senate blocked efforts to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) by a 54-43 vote today along strict party lines, with Republicans and moderates - including Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) - voting no.

Protestors Fight For Not 1 More Deportation Across the US
On Saturday, thousands of immigration activists gathered in over 60 cities across the United States to protest the deportation of undocumented immigrants. The main organizer of the nationwide protests, the Not One More campaign, has expressed three concrete demands for the Obama administration: the end of deportation for undocumented workers who are not serious offenders or national security threats; the end of Secure Communities (a program which allows law enforcement to hold suspected undocumented immigrants before turning them over to the federal government); and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivers program. Not One More was joined in support by labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO, which strongly condemned the deportation of immigrants without due process and urged the administration to act on behalf of undocumented workers in the United States. "The time is now to stop deportations," said Cesar Vargas, co-director of the Dream Action Coalition.

Senate Votes to Extend Unemployment Benefits
The Senate voted 50-38 yesterday to approve a bill that would restore jobless benefits for 2.4 million Americans who have been out of work for at least six months. The bill would fund unemployment benefits through the end of May, and retroactively provides for individuals who were eligible for aid, but ceased to receive payment when the program's funding lapsed in December. The bill's fate in the House is still somewhat uncertain.

Senators and President Obama Mark Equal Pay Day With Actions To Close Wage Gap
Today marks Equal Pay Day - the day women must work until to earn as much as their male counterparts had by December 31 of last year.

Millions of Afghans Vote in Historic Elections
High turnout, low levels of violence, and strong participation by women, all combined Saturday to make the closely watched Afghan presidential and provincial council elections a success. Over 7 million Afghan men and women voted in these historic elections - representing a staggering 60% voter participation rate, close to the 62% participation rate in the US presidential election in 2008 and more than the 58% participation rate in the US in 2012.

Obama Poised To Sign Two Executive Actions On Equal Pay
President Obama will sign two executive actions tomorrow to promote equal pay for women. The President will sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation.

Alabama Passes Bill Further Restricting Abortion Access for Minors
Minors will soon find it harder to obtain an abortion in Alabama, after the state legislature passed a bill last week creating more rules around parental consent. A minor's parent is already required to sign a consent form, but HB 494 will now require parents to do so in front of the physician performing the procedure.

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