Iran Outlaws Nobel Laureate Human Rights Group

| August 12, 2006 - 11:45 pm

Tags: civil rights, human rights

Human rights groups are calling on Iran's government to immediately reverse its decision to outlaw the Center for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), an organization co-founded by 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Ministry of the Interior issued a statement on August 3 defining CDHR as an illegal organization, saying that the group had never obtained the proper permit. The Ministry stated that "violators will be prosecuted accordingly," according to Amnesty International, which has also condemned the Iranian government's action.

UN Considering New Multilateral Agency for Women

| August 12, 2006 - 11:43 pm

Tags: civil rights, progressive, women's rights

A position paper advocating the development of a multilateral UN Agency for women was submitted to a UN panel last week. The position paper, entitled "Gender Equality Now or Never," was written by Paula Donavan senior advisor on women's and children's issues in the office of Stephen Lewis, UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa.

Woman Sentenced to Six Years for Attempted Clinic Bombing

| August 6, 2006 - 1:05 am

Tags: abortion, abortion clinic, Louisiana, women's rights

A Louisiana woman was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison for leaving an incendiary device outside of a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana last December. Patricia Hughes, 25, pleaded guilty last month to leaving an ignited Molotov cocktail bomb near the entrance of the Hope Medical Group for Women. The bomb consisted of a bottle filled with gasoline, a rag, and a candle. It caused minimal damage to the clinic and did not interrupt the clinic's services.

The maximum sentence Hughes could have received was 40 years in prison. Because of her guilty plea, she was able to reduce that sentence. Hughes' boyfriend, Jeremy Dunahoe, 19, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the crime. He is scheduled to be sentenced today.

Minimum Wage Bill Falls Four Votes Short In Senate

| August 6, 2006 - 1:04 am

Tags: estate tax, minimum wage, worker's rights

Democrats in the Senate were successful in blocking the minimum wage-estate tax break bill from coming to a full vote in the Senate. Republicans had tied a $2.10 minimum wage increase over three years to a permanent decrease in the estate tax and a tax break package that would have given bonus tax cuts averaging $1.3 million to the 8,000+ richest estates in the country. The bill fell four votes short of the necessary 60 to end debate and move to a full Senate vote, where it only would have needed to pass by a simple majority.

"The bill was a wolf in sheep's clothing," said Alice Cohan, political director of the Feminist Majority. "The Republicans are trying to pass a tax give-away to the wealthy as a trade for barely increasing the minimum wage."

Democrats Block Teen Endangerment Act from Reaching Conference Committee

| July 28, 2006 - 2:49 pm

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) used a procedural move yesterday to block the recently passed Teen Endangerment Act from being sent to a Congressional conference committee to reconcile the House and the Senate versions of the legislation. Sen. Durbin is concerned that Senate Republicans who were sent to serve on the conference committee would be likely to pass the House version of the legislation, which is considered much more restrictive than the Senate version. The House version would penalize physicians who perform an abortion on a minor, knowing she did not comply with parental notification/consent laws.

South Dakota Law Could Identify Abortion Providers as Murderers

| July 28, 2006 - 2:44 pm

Tags: abortion, civil rights

A new memo released by a South Dakota State Medical Association (SDSMA) lawyer concludes that under the changes to the state's homicide laws in 2005, abortion providers could be charged with murder should the recently passed abortion ban take effect.

On Shirley M. Tilghman

| July 20, 2006 - 3:37 pm

Shirley M. Tilghman, President of Princeton University, is quite unlike her peer presidents at other Ivy League universities throughout the country. As a woman scientist, Tilghman has advocated expanding the student body at Princeton to include students who might not have had the opportunities that over 50% of the current student body has but have still managed to excel and seeks to change the system of the Eating Clubs to alter their homogeneous selections. Furthermore, she opposes the Academic Bill of Rights.

Fight the FMA

| July 16, 2006 - 8:17 pm

Tags: civil rights, gay marriage, gay rights

The Human Rights Campaign has been active in the Federal Marriage Amendment fight -- from organizing at the grassroots level to getting the word out in the media. We were victorious in the battle in the Senate, but the fight is not over.

Portugese Court Charges Doctor and Women for Illegal Abortions

| July 8, 2006 - 7:26 pm

Tags: abortion, Portugal

Between 20,000 to 40,000 illegal abortions are performed annually in Portugal, and over 1,000 women were hospitalized in 2003 as a result of complications from back-alley abortions.

On Tuesday, Portuguese Court of Appeals charged a doctor and his assistant with providing illegal abortions. Three women were also charged with obtaining illegal abortions. Abortion is illegal in Portugal, with few exceptions, including endangerment of the mother's life and other specified conditions.

Tuesday's ruling is a reversal of a 2004 ruling where the doctor, assistant, three women, and twelve others were acquitted of the charges based on lack of evidence. The five convicted on Tuesday were found guilty on evidence from gynecological exams that was not admitted in the 2004 trial. The doctor was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison, his assistant was sentenced to 16 months, and the three women received sentences of six months each, according to Today Online.

The Dutch organization Women on Waves traveled to Portugal in 2004 to bring attention to the nation's punitive abortion policies. Though the Women on Waves boat was never allowed to enter Portuguese waters - in fact, it was blocked by Portugal's Navy - the trip succeeded renewing the debate in Portugal about the country's restrictive abortion policies. A poll conducted shortly after the trip found that three in five voters in Portugal wanted to liberalize Portugal's abortion laws and nearly 77 percent wanted to hold a new referendum on abortion. The Feminist Majority Foundation traveled with Women on Waves to Portugal to provide security assistance.

Improvement for LGBT Workers in Fortune 500

| July 8, 2006 - 7:16 pm

Tags: LGBT

The Human Rights Campaign has released a report on Fortune 500 companies, finding that 51 percent offer full benefits to domestic partners. In addition, 430 (86 percent) of the organizations include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies, which is a tenfold improvement compared with 2001. The report also highlights individual state victories, such as the seven states (CA, IL, ME, MN, NM, RI, WA) that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the private as well as the pubic sectors.

"While protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans are stalled in Congress, corporate America continues to surge ahead. This isn't a Democratic or a Republican issue. It's an issue of basic fairness and good business," said HRC President Joe Solmonese.