The Senate, by a wide margin of 78-22, passed a strong inclusive Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act today. All 55 Democratic Senators and 23 Republican Senators voted to pass a bill that will strengthen protections for students, immigrants, Native American women, the LGBT community, and also aid victims of sex trafficking.
Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, remarked, "Although the Tea Party, Heritage Action, and FreedomWorks tried to politicize VAWA, the Senate led the way for common sense to prevail. VAWA works. Its prevention provisions work to reduce incidents of domestic violence, date violence, sexual assault and stalking crimes and its protective provisions help the victims of these crimes. Now the House must act immediately and pass the inclusive Senate reauthorization with a bipartisan vote. It currently has 194 cosponsors in the House. The political games that have caused well over a year's delay in passing this VAWA Reauthorization must stop. VAWA has been and must remain a bipartisan effort. Violence against women cannot, must not be politicized, trivialized, or tolerated."
Although Heritage Action, the 501(c)(4) affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, and Freedom Works announced they were scoring the VAWA vote, giving any Senator who voted for VAWA negative marks, three-fourths of the Senate defied the threat and voted yes. Though some opponents argue VAWA is vague, the act is very specific. VAWA deals with felony and misdemeanor crimes of violence including domestic violence, sexual assault, date violence, stalking, and sex trafficking. It even has clauses to protect against family violence such as child and elder abuse.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .