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2/5/1997 - Virginia House Passes Amended Parental Notice Bill on Abortion

A bill moving through the Virginia House and Senate and which has support from Virginia Governor George Allen (R) would force women younger than 18 to notify a parent before having an abortion. The Virginia House has passed the bill but did so with added amendments which would allow a young woman to notify grandparents or adult siblings. Governor Allen has threatened a veto if the bill comes to him with the less restrictive amendments, and the Senate has already passed a parent-notification bill that would require one of the woman’s parents' consent. During the House debate, Del. Vivian E. Watts (D-Fairfax), a victim of childhood incest, said that requiring young women to notify abusive parents would lead to catastrophic results. She commented, that young women who have had to notify their parents, "have been burned. They have been bruised. They have been totally ignored. They have been intimidated and controlled in every possible way by authority. They have no active parent at all." Abortion rights activists argue that the parental notice restrictions on abortion are part of a barrage of anti-abortion legislation which has been increasing building in the past few years.

If Allen ends up signing any variation of the parent-notice legislation, it would be Virginia’s most significant restriction on abortion since the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to outlaw abortions in 1973. The Virginia Legislature, which has recently increased its number of Republicans, will also consider other abortion restrictive measures, like banning D&X procedures.

2/5/1997 - EEOC Judge Recommends Army Pay $300,000 to Sexually Harassed Employee

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission administrative judge Ann Holler has recommended that the Army pay $300,000 in damages plus medical and legal costs to a former employee of Fort Bliss who alleges that an Army Colonel harassed her. Peggy Graham has alleged that Colonel Allen Hasbrouck forced her to submit to sexual acts over a six year span starting in 1988. Hasbrouck told her she would lose her job if she did not comply. The Army, which had conducted its own internal investigation, sent the Colonel a letter of reprimand and an order for early retirement. The Army maintains it is not liable for damages because Graham entered into the relationship "voluntarily" and did not follow established internal procedures to make her complaint.

2/5/1997 - Army Considers Segregation of Training

Army Chief of Staff Denis J. Reimer in testimony before a Senate Armed Services Committee said that the Army should perhaps reconsider coed training. Reimer, who identifies himself as a strong supporter of coed training, said that the Army’s quality has improved since integrating women, but commented about coed training, "I think afterwards there’s probably a need for a more detailed look in this particular area." He also commented that, while there is no excuse for sexual harassment, "It’s a high stress environment, Senator, and we put a lot of pressure on our drill sergeants, and everybody has their breaking point at a certain point." Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) commented, "I have some fundamental concerns about throwing very young women in a position with a drill sergeant…That’s you know, [like] sitting there with a match near some gunpowder and expecting a spark not to fly every now and then and cause a problem." These comments and others insinuate that some men cannot keep themselves from sexually harassing women and that this aberrant behavior should possibly take precedence over women’s equality.

2/5/1997 - Jury Finds Simpson Liable

In the 1997 Civil Trial of O.J. Simpson, the jury has unanimously found that the former football player is "responsible" for the deaths of Ron Goldman and Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown. The jury awarded the family of Ron Goldman $8.5 million in compensatory damages; Nicole Brown’s family has not asked for compensatory damages. The jury will now hear evidence as to Simpson’s financial status and determine punitive damages, which could also range in the millions, for Goldman and Simpson’s deaths. During deliberations, the jury asked to see evidence focusing on Simpson’s alibi and the recollections of Alan Park, the limousine driver who picked up Simpson on the night of the slayings. The jury also asked to see evidence of a New Year’s 1989 fight which left Nicole bruised and battered. Simpson denied, on the stand, ever hitting her saying instead that they wrestled while drunk despite having previously pleaded no contest to spousal battery.

2/4/1997 - Arkansas House Passes Bill Banning D&X Procedure

The Arkansas House of Representatives passed House Bill 1351 on February 3rd (59-14) which would ban the late term abortion procedure know as D&X. The procedure is used when the health or life of the woman having the abortion is in danger. Opponents of the bill claim that it is unconstitutional because it does not make exceptions for women whose lives are endangered unless they have the abortion. The bill would also make doctors who perform the procedure liable to a felony charge with up to six months in prison and a $10,000 fine

2/4/1997 - Army’s Top Enlisted Man Who Served on Sexual Harassment Overview Panel Charged with Sexual Harassment

Army officials reported on February 3rd that a senior enlisted man, Sergeant Major of the Army Gene C. McKinney, has been accused of sexually assaulting Sergeant Major Brenda Hoster. McKinney as excused himself from his duties on a high-level panel investigating charges of sexual harassment within the Army in light of the accusations. Hoster sent a sworn statement to the Criminal Investigative Division yesterday alleging harassment. Hoster told The New York Times that McKinney kissed, grabbed her, and asked her for sex in her hotel room during an April business trip to Hawaii. McKinney’s wife was a few rooms down the hall at the time of the alleged harassment. Hoster also commented that she reported the incident seven weeks after it occurred to superiors. An Army official allegedly ignored her report, and officials refused her request for a transfer. Consequently, Hoster retired early, at the age of twenty-two. She filed a formal complaint after learning that McKinney had been appointed to the sexual harassment panel. McKinney has denied the allegations.

2/4/1997 - Department of Veteran Affairs Announces Programs to Meet Needs of Women Veterans

Over 400,000 female veterans will receive letters from the Department of Veteran Affairs which outline programs specifically designed to meet the women’s needs. The letter includes information on sexual trauma counseling now available for the veterans. In 1992, Congress passed legislation which authorized the Department to provide counseling specific to overcoming psychological trauma resulting from sexual assault, harassment and assault incurred while on active duty. In citing the need for the mailing and the services, Veteran Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown said, "Some women veterans who are the victims of sexual assault have come to VA for counseling and treatment, but we know there are many more who are reluctant to come forward for help – a common reaction to sexual trauma. I want women veterans to know that there is help available. VA staff can help them cope with the long-lasting effects of sexual trauma and improve the quality of their lives."

Women veterans who need further information can call VA’s national toll-free number, 1-800-827-1000 or can visit their Web site.

2/4/1997 - Women’s Legal Defense Fund to Hold Press Conference on the Family and Medical Leave Act

The Women’s Legal Defense Fund will hold a press conference and forum on February 5th at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 430, to celebrate and revisit the signing of Clinton’s first law of his administration, the Family and Medical Leave Act. Senators Dodd, Murray and Daschle will hold a press conference from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. to celebrate the Act’s four year anniversary. The Women’s Legal Defense Fund will hold a forum entitled, "Expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act: Building on Four Years of Success" from 10:30 to 12:30.

To commemorate the anniversary, WLDF is releasing a new edition of its consumer-friendly Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act: Questions and Answers with explanations of how the law applies in a variety of situations. The Guide is $3.95 and can be ordered through WLDF.

2/3/1997 - Women Misinformed About Risk of Heart Attack

A study conducted by Prevention Magazine and published in the magazine’s February 1997 issue has found that nearly one-third of women do not know that their risk of dying from a heart attack is greater than their risk of dying from breast cancer. Approximately 58% of women thought that their risk of dying from a heart attack was similar to or lower than their risk of dying from breast cancer even though heart attacks are the leading cause of death among U.S. women. Actually a woman’s chances of dying from a heart attack is five times higher than dying of breast cancer. Six in ten women surveyed said that their doctors had not discussed heart disease risks with them; among women over the age of 55, 44% said their doctors had not discussed heart disease risks. Nearly 41% said they did not eat a low-fat diet, 45% have not had their cholesterol checked and 53% were not getting regular exercise.

2/3/1997 - Elizabeth Dole May Run for Presidency in 2000

During an interview on NBC’s Today Show, Bob Dole said that his wife, Elizabeth, might run for president in 2000. He commented when asked whether or not she would run, "She might. I’d like to see her do what she thinks she can to make a difference." Recently, Dole said she has no current plans to run and is devoting her energies to serving as President of the Red Cross. She has not, however, ruled out the possibility of running for U.S. President.

2/3/1997 - Annual U.S. Human Rights Report Concentrates on Women and Children

The U.S. released its annual human rights report last week and intensified its campaign to focus on women and children. The State Department report investigated conditions in 193 countries and found the problem of forced prostitution of women to be widespread in India. It also found that gang rapes were used as punishment for alleged adultery and that domestic violence over dowry disputes were a serious problem in India. The report estimated that 80% of Pakistani women were victims of domestic violence but that police often simply returned abused women back to their husbands. Female children in Pakistan were also found to have fallen even further behind than their male counterparts in terms of health care and education. The report did cite some progress for women in 1996: development of legislation on family law in Namibia; legislation on violence against women in Ecuador and on women’s political participation in the Philippines.

2/3/1997 - Australian State Health Minister to Override Tribunal Ruling Allowing Lesbian Women to Receive Donor Sperm

An Australian anti-discrimination tribunal has granted lesbian women the right to have access to donor sperm. However, the Queensland Health Minister Mike Horan said he will amend laws to close a "lifestyle loophole." He wants only the traditional family of a male and female to have access to fertility clinics. Horan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, "[Fertility clinics] weren’t established to suit a particular lifestyle. They were established to provide assistance…to people who had reproductive problems." He also commented, "It’s time in society that we started to take a stance about what are our standards of family." The comments came in response to a tribunal ruling awarding a woman A$7,500 (US$5,700) from a fertility clinic which turned her down because she is gay.

2/3/1997 - Sixty Percent of Sex Offenders Out on Parole or Probation

A recently-released 1994 study conducted by the Justice Department and shows that 60% of sex offenders are out of jail on parole or probation. In general, 75% of offenders are out on parole. Thus, though still high at 60%, sex offenders are less likely to be out on parole than offenders of other crimes.

2/3/1997 - Sixty Percent of Sex Offenders Out on Parole or Probation

A recently-released 1994 study conducted by the Justice Department and shows that 60% of sex offenders are out of jail on parole or probation. In general, 75% of offenders are out on parole. Thus, though still high at 60%, sex offenders are less likely to be out on parole than offenders of other crimes.

1/31/1997 - Twenty-four Women Accepted to Citadel for 1997-1998 School Year

Thirty-five women applied for next year's Citadel class, the Citadel has accepted twenty-four of the women. The college also says that a male cadet who had been accused of hazing two female cadets has resigned. The other ten cadets facing school disciplinary action hearings for the alleged hazing incidents will be dealt with by the end of February, according to the school's commandant, Joseph Trez

1/31/1997 - New Clothing Rules for Women Take Effect in Nigeria

A new ruling on dress codes has come into effect in Nigeria and women are no longer allowed to wear trousers or "immodest clothes." Women wearing trousers were turned away on January 29th from the administrative core of Nigeria's military government. Officials commented that these new rules were instituted to keep women of "easy virtue" from visiting the thirteen government ministries. One official commented on women with pant-covered legs, "These ladies find their ways into offices and pester top government officials for contracts, jobs or gifts by flaunting their bodies. It is about time we cleaned up."

1/31/1997 - Five State Legislators Aim to End Insurance Discrimination Against Domestic Abuse Victims

Insurance companies use medical reports, medical databases, public court documents and credit reports to identify victims of domestic abuse. The insurance companies then limit or deny coverage to these victims because of their increased risk. The non-partisan Center for Policy Alternative has coordinated the introduction of bills in California, Illinois, Georgia, New Mexico and Washington to stop this discrimination. The president of CPA, Linda Tarr-Whelan, noted that anywhere from 2 to 4 million women are abused each year commenting that the legislation was "an innovative approach by women legislators across the country to raise visibility and take action to correct an unacceptable practice." The legislation would prohibit insurers from: denying a claim based on domestic violence; requesting information about domestic violence; denying coverage or renewal of coverage; restricting coverage or charging higher premiums; and terminating coverage granted through the abuser's insurance plan. The legislation would also impose civil penalties and fines for insurance companies violating the law.

1/29/1997 - Diocese Nearly Bankrupt from Cost of Sex-Abuse Cases

One-hundred sixty-five clergy sex-abuse cases have nearly bankrupt the Diocese of Santa Fe since Archbishop Michael Sheehan took over the diocese three years ago and removed 20 priests. Though the amounts of settlements are sealed and victims have been sworn to secrecy, Sheehan estimated in 1993 that the sex-abuse cases might cost the diocese $50 million. Estimates made by victims’ rights groups foundz that the settlements probably averaged between $20,000 and $50,000. The diocese, which had to make up the difference in the amount not covered by insurance companies, has sold property and has wiped out the savings of individual church parishes to avoid bankruptcy.

Former Archbishop Robert Sanchez had been accused of sexual misconduct by three women before resigning in disgrace. In a deposition, Sanchez said he was not aware that sexual abuse was a crime.

Pedophile priests from around the country have been sent to a treatment center in Jemez Springs, but, instead of returning home after treatment, many were reassigned to New Mexico parishes where they continued their abuse of children. The diocese's 190 priests are now more carefully screened and must participate in seminars on pedophilia. Ten cases remain unsettled.

1/29/1997 - Fifth Soldier Accused of Sex Crime at Aberdeen

The Army announced on January 28 that a fifth soldier, Sgt. 1st Class William Jones, has been accused of sexual misconduct at Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Ground. If convicted, Jones faces up to six months in a military prison for indecent assault, being intoxicated on duty and failing to obey orders regarding student-instructor interaction involving six female trainees and one civilian employee. Jones has been reassigned to a maintenance division at Aberdeen.

On the same day, Sgt. 1st Class Theron Brown was granted a discharge, neither honorable nor dishonorable, on adultery and forcible sodomy charges rather than go through a court-martial. Two other sergeants and a captain have already been accused of rape and improper fraternizing with female recruits and face trials in March and April. Up to 17 instructors have also been suspended pending an investigation. Since the Army set up its toll-free hotline at 1-800-903-4241, 50 women have filed complaints that will be investigated. Aberdeen officials expect more charges to be filed.

At the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, a committee has been appointed to review the process of the integration of women into the formerly all-male military college. The five-member panel, headed by president emeritus retired Army General James Grimsely, will produce a report by mid-March on the assimilation process.

1/29/1997 - Ukraine Women form Women's Party

According to Allan Komrova, director of the Institute of Human Problems, a new group called the Women of Ukraine will soon enter into the politics of the country. Waiting to be registered, the new party plans to take part in the next presidential election. While women comprise 54 percent of the Ukrainian population, they make up only four percent of Parliament deputies. Komarova said, "Women of Ukraine, founded by 14 female scientists, journalists and members of women's groups, is the result of six years of studying the state of affairs in society." The group held its first congress on January 18.

1/28/1997 - FBI Reportedly to Interview Witness Linking Abortion Bombers to Olympic Bombing

The FBI has reportedly decided to interview an Atlanta architect who claims he recognizes a man connected with the Olympic bombing as one of three currently charged with bombing an abortion clinic in Spokane, Washington. The architect had earlier called the FBI twice to tell them of a man he saw wearing a backpack before the Olympic bombing; he also faxed the FBI's Atlanta office a sketch of the man he saw on July 25th (the day after the bombing) and again on Dec. 10th. FBI agents never followed up on the calls or on the faxes. He then called The Spokesman-Review after he saw a television report on three men accused of bombing an abortion clinic. The architect could identify one of the men as the one he saw in Atlanta. An anonymous FBI official commented, "It's moved to the No. 1 position down there in Atlanta, now, I'll tell you that."

1/28/1997 - Sick, Pregnant Woman in London In Danger of Losing Baby is Jailed Without Bail or Proper Medical Attention

Roisin McAliskey has been imprisoned in an English Prison in relation to a 1996 mortar bomb attack on a British Army barracks in Germany. McAliskey has not been formally charged with anything, she is facing extradition hearings to Germany which will occur sometime in April. Until then, she is being held in solitary confinement and being denied the medical attention she needs in order to recuperate from previous illness and to have her safe pregnancy. British Home Secretary Michael Howard overruled the prison warden's decision to allow her to walk for an hour in the prison's garden. A court-appointed physician has reportedly commented that he would lose his medical license if he ever treated a patient the way she is being treated. She currently suffers from serious asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. A midwifery has recommended that McAliskey be transferred to a hospital for treatment. This request was denied because she is being held under tight security and cannot interact with other inmates. Though several people have attempted to put up large amounts of bail for her, courts have denied her bail four times.

1/28/1997 - Study Reveals Amount of Money Women Need to Get Off Welfare

A coalition of women's groups have presented legislators with a study conducted by the Wider Opportunities for Women group which analyzes the amount of money women need in order to successfully escape from welfare. The study was conducted using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development data and child-care cost surveys. In urban California, women must find jobs that pay two or three times the minimum wage. For example, in Los Angeles, to meet housing, child care, transportation and medical needs, a woman with one young child needs to earn $13.07 an hour to cover expenses. Depending on the age of the children, a woman in Los Angeles with two children would have to make anywhere from $13.42 to $17.10 an hour to cover similar expenses. The coalition of women's groups are urging that the government use the study to devising job and training programs for the millions of women on welfare who will be required to move from government assistance into the workplace. Irma Herrera of the San Francisco based Equal Rights Advocates commented that if women do not have the training necessary for jobs that pay enough to meet a family’s basic needs, families will only be pushed further and further into poverty. Approximately 85% of adults on welfare are women.

1/28/1997 - Lesbian and Gay Rights Groups Prepare for Kentucky's 1998 Legislative Session

Lesbian and gay rights groups are preparing for a series of laws which, if introduced and passed, would outlaw sodomy and ban same-sex marriage in Kentucky. A new coalition in the Senate composed of five Democrats and eighteen Republicans now wields the largest voting block; members of the group have been the chief proponents of anti-lesbian and gay legislation. Senator Gex Williams, a Verona Republican commented, "I think the defense of marriage is an issue, and sodomy is related to that, and that will be an issue we will not be able to avoid." Last year Larry Saunders (D-Louisville), who currently serves as the Senate President, introduced a bill banning same-sex marriage in Kentucky, but the bill never made it out of committee.

1/27/1997 - FBI Lead in Olympic Bombing Related to Abortion Clinic Bombing

A Washington state based newspaper has reported that three men, currently charged with bombing an office of The Spokesman and a Spokane Planned Parenthood clinic, are the FBI's strongest lead in the Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Though the men are not yet considered suspects, the paper cites circumstantial evidence linking the three Idaho men to the bombing. The men are currently held without bail for the newspaper and clinic bombings; they were arrested after a military surplus dealer reported that he had sold the men a parka and military backpack that was worn by a masked gunman in a bank surveillance photo. The dealer also spoke with the men about how to operate time-delay detonators and told them how to wash fingerprints off the backpack. The Centennial Park bomb was placed in a military backpack and triggered by a battery-operated timer.

The men, Charles Barbee, Robert Berry and Verne Jay Merrell belong to the Phineas Priesthood, a white supremacist group. Barbee worked for AT&T but quit the company in 1995 because he considered it "immoral." He complained that the company held sensitivity workshops on homosexuals, encouraged managers to give to the United Way, and mistreated Christian white men. He also noted that women comprised half the workforce when they should have been at home taking care of their families as God mandated. He advocated "guerrilla warfare." The Olympic bombing happened near the AT&T global village.