News Roundup: Emergency Contraception, Protestant Bishops Support Birth Control
*Emergency contraception may soon be available without a prescription in pharmacies in Colorado and New York. A committee in the Colorado House has voted in favor of a bill giving pharmacists the authority to dispense emergency contraception, and New York Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer (D) announced his support for pharmacy access in New York.
Souce: Feminist Daily News Wire
*Two parents whose teenage daughters had abortions in other states debated on Monday a bill that would restrict the ability of West Virginia teens to get abortions without telling their parents. They spoke during a House Judiciary Committee informational session in the House of Delegates chamber. The bill is pending in the committee.
*The U.S. Supreme Court said on Tuesday it will rule on whether the federal government can ban some abortion procedures, a case that could show if the high court reshaped by President George W. Bush will restrict abortion rights. The justices agreed to decide whether the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act that Bush signed into law in 2003 is unconstitutional because it lacks an exception to protect the health of a pregnant woman.
*A senior at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy has been charged with sexually assaulting six female cadets in the campus barracks and other sites. Webster M. Smith, 22, of Houston was separated from the rest of the student population after the first complaint was filed with administrators Dec. 4, the academy said. Smith, a linebacker on the academy's football team, was charged Feb. 9 under military law with rape, assault, indecent assault and sodomy against female cadets, said Chief Warrant Officer David French, an academy spokesman.
*Protestant bishops have taken a bold stand on artificial birth control, in sharp contrast with the policy of the Catholic Church. “We are prolife, we are antiabortion; we are propoor so we endorse family planning bills in Congress because these will solve the unchecked population growth and help bring down poverty.” The Council of Christian Bishops of the Philippines (CCBP), which is composed of protestant prelates with 20,000 churches nationwide, adopted that position after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) rejected House Bill 3773 or the proposed Responsible Parenthood and Population Management Act of 2005.
Source: Manila Standard Today
*Suspected Taliban militants have set fire to a school for some 1,500 boys in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand, officials confirmed on Tuesday. "Last night militants set fire to a boys' high school in Zarghon village of Nadali district, around 17 km west of the district capital, Lashkargah. All the books, desks and chairs have been burnt, but no one was killed or injured in the incident," Haji Mohammad Qasim, head of Helmand's educational department, said, adding the villagers had extinguished the fire.
*Over 30 women sitting in a tent are holding up their right arms high in the air, waiting for their turn to talk. Many are clutching scraps of paper with meticulous lists written on them. One by one they stand up and address the meeting in nervous, shaky voices. But as the women around them nod in agreement and call out their support, their confidence grows and so do their voices. This is Muzaffarabad's Female Committee and for most of the women here, this is the first time they have aired their problems in a public forum.
*Six Saudi women are running this week for seats on the local chamber of commerce. Although winning won't be easy — of the 12,000 merchants eligible to vote, fewer than 500 are women — the election is a marker of change in Saudi Arabia, where progress toward a more open political system, including greater rights for women, is measured in inches, not miles.
*Uganda's first lady Janet Museveni is running for a seat in parliament on Feb. 23. Anti-AIDS activist Beatrice Were might have supported her a few years ago. But now she blames her for restigmatizing the disease with help from U.S. funding.
Source: Women's eNews
*No fewer than 55,000 Nigerian women lose their lives yearly in child-birth related complications.
Source: This Day