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On Monday (4-15), the California Supreme Court ruled that a parent with child custody can relocate despite objections from the other parent and without having to prove that the move is essential for a new job. Michael Maroko, lawyer for mother Wendy Burgess, said, "Women are now free at last to relocate with their children as long as the move does not prejudice the rights or the welfare of the children."
Burgess' ex-husband had objected to her desire to move 40 miles for a career-advancing position. Burgess had to go to court to prove the move was necessary, and a Court of Appeal had overturned a decision of a trial court that had ruled in her favor. In light of the Monday decision, a parent with primary custody will only have to prove that relocation is in good faith, and an objecting parent will have to prove that the relocation will severely injure the child. Dorothy Jonas, a Feminist Majority board member, played a key role in bringing this case to trial
After the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a huge sexual harassment case against Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, top officials at the company's Normal, Illinois plant called a meeting of employees to warn them that they could lose their jobs if sales drop as a result of the allegations. Officials also said phones would be installed at the plant so that employees could call Congress and the President for free to tell them the charges are false. Also planned is an employee march on the Chicago offices of the EEOC who the plant says "affects their job security."
Mistubishi denies the claims of the 30 women who filed a suit against the company in December 1994 as well as the EEOC's claim at least 300 women were subjected to sexual harassment and intimidation at the 4,000-person plant. One man, who admitted he himself sexually harassed women at the plant, reported seeing numerous photos handed out at the plant of naked men and women having sex at a party. Patricia Benassi, attorney for the women in the original suit, said women at the plant are being threatened for suing and that the wall of a men's locker room reportedly has a warning that a man will "go hunting" for women if he loses his job.
4/17/1996 - Women's Age, Genes Affect Ovarian Cancer
Research appearing in the Wednesday (4-17) Journal of the National Cancer Institute links the gene BRCA1 with ovarian cancer in ten to 20 percent of the cases involving women under 50. The gene, also linked to breast cancer in young women, tells the body how to build a protein that blocks cancer, unless the gene mutates. A patient's age at the onset of ovarian cancer is a key factor in determining whether she inherited the faulty gene, the report states. According to Johnathan Lancaster, researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, women who have the gene mutation have a 90 percent chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer. The findings, which Lancaster said need more study, could change the way doctors treat and counsel women with ovarian cancer.
4/17/1996 - Cardinals Push for Override of Abortion Ban Veto
Eight Roman Catholic cardinals have written a three-page letter to President Clinton condemning his decision to veto a bill banning an abortion procedure used to save the life, health, or future fertility of a woman. The cardinals pledged to make their concern a public issue on the same day House Republicans postponed a vote to override the veto. The override would likely pass easily in the House but is short of the needed two-thirds in the Senate. There was no indication of when the measure, sent to the Judiciary Committee, would be voted on
4/17/1996 - Texas Suspends Minority Scholarships
University officials in Texas, worried about the legality of affirmative action programs after recent blows, have suspended a statewide scholarship program for minority students. A recent decision by a federal court forbids affirmative action programs for people of color in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Higher education officials feel the ruling might have implications far beyond the three-state region. The University of Texas has filed an appeal.
The scholarship program now being dismantled was created to combat federal criticism of the low rates of minority enrollment. Its $1.5 million benefit about 1,300 minority students in Texas
4/16/1996 - Women in Few Front Page Stories
According to a survey sponsored by Women, Men and Media, women are only involved in 15 percent of front-page news stories. The figure decreased from last year’s 19 percent. The survey looked at twenty newspapers in February for references to and photos of women and for bylines by women on front pages, opinion pages, and the first pages of business and local sections. Of the small number of women covered, over half were either victims or perpetrators of crimes or misconduct. Women in power received little coverage overall, and women made up less than one percent of references in front-page political stories.
As in 1995, women were in 33 percent of the photos, and women’s bylines increased slightly to 35 percent. Stories about the economy included very little coverage of Laura Tyson, President Clinton’s top economic advisor, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, or other leading female economists and analysts. Women, Men and the Media, co-chaired by Betty Friedan and Nancy Woodhul,l is financed primarily by the Arlington-based Freedom Forum.
4/16/1996 - Suit Against UC Regents, Gov. Wilson Proceeds
On Monday (4-15), San Francisco Superior Court Judge William Cahill allowed a lawsuit to proceed against California Gov. Pete Wilson and University of California regents. The defendants allegedly violated the state’s meeting law when they voted last July to dismantle affirmative action in the UC system. Lawyers for the UC Santa Barbara Daily Nexus claim that Wilson secretly gathered "yes" votes over the telephone prior to the vote at the July 20 meeting, which leads groups such as the ACLU to charge that the meeting’s decision should be nullified. A state law, the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, requires public officials, including UC regents, to conduct most meetings in public.
Judge Cahill rejected Wilson’s claim that the lawsuit was not filed in time, noting that the 30-day time period cannot hold if the government conceals its action from the public.
4/16/1996 - Soy Protein Diet Could Prevent Breast Cancer
On Tuesday (4-16), British scientists announced that a bioactive substance found in soy protein could block estrogen from causing breast cancer. Isoflavonoids may work like the popular breast cancer drug Tomoxifen, indicating that women eating a diet high in soy proteins could reduce their risk of breast cancer. Announcing the findings in remarks for a meeting of the Biochemical Society at Liverpool University, Dr. Helen Wiseman of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College in London said studies were being done to enhance the anti-cancer properties of soy proteins.
A jury convicted a San Francisco police officer Monday (4-15) of forced copulation and kidnapping by use of police authority but acquitted him of aggravated kidnapping for the purpose of rape. Francis Hogue faces up to 11 years in state prison and will be sentenced May 6. On March 18, 1994, the employee of a South of Market massage spa said, Hogue took drove the woman to a secluded spot and told her she would not be arrested for an earlier misdemeanor warrant if she had sex with him. She said Hogue then forced himself on her. Hogue’s lawyer said he will appeal the decision in a trial that weighed heavily on DNA analysis.
4/15/1996 - Thousands Join NOW "Fight the Right" March
Uniting to "Fight the Right," an estimated 45,000 marchers flocked to San Francisco Sunday (4-14). Organized by the National Organization for Women (NOW), the march was at once a show of support for affirmative action, reproductive freedom, and gay and lesbian rights, and a protest against racism, violence against women, and the war on poor women. Among the speakers were Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and author Gloria Steinem.
Activists came from around the country and joined members of over 500 organizations to the march NOW organizers held in California to draw attention to the anti-affirmative action initiative on the state's November ballot. Steinem said the measure makes it clear that supporters of affirmative action and women's rights need to "get out the vote." NOW president Patricia Ireland cited the 1994 Republican gains in Congress as proof that supporters of the march's causes need to "unify and stand together." NOW estimated that 40,000 people came and went throughout the day.
Another popular speaker at the pre-march rally was Paul Rockwell, founder of "Angry White Guys for Affirmative Action" who said, "There are two kinds of preferences in America. Favoritism for white men of power and socially patriotic preferences for the good of all Americans."
4/15/1996 - May 2nd Trial Set for Woman Seeking Asylum
On May 2, the Board of Immigration Appeals will hear the asylum request of Fauziya Kasinga who has spent the last two years in jail awaiting asylum from Togo where she escaped female genital mutilation. The decision of the court, the highest administrative tribunal in the U.S. immigration system, will likely set a precedent that could influence future decisions toward women seeking asylum. While persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinions or membership in a social group is considered reason for asylum by law, gender is not included in the statute.
Last August, Kasinga's case was dismissed by a judge who said her story, argued by a law student, was not credible. The student convinced her professor, Karen Musalo of American University's Washington College of Law to appeal the case pro bono. In addition to bringing attention to the issue of female genital mutilation, the case has also brought to light patterns of abuse in jails and specifically toward I.N.S. detainees.
On Friday (4-12) the Food and Drug Administration approved an application by Advanced Technology Laboratories to use its ultrasound equipment to help determine if lumps in women's breasts are cancerous. The screening could reduce the number of biopsies - over 700,000 annually - by almost 40 percent. ATL's high-definition machines allow doctors to distinguish between benign and cancerous lumps. Long used to view developing fetuses, the procedure could spare hundreds of thousands of women the cost and ordeal of having a biopsy.
4/15/1996 - Women's Brains Last Longer
According to Ruben C. Gur, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, men lose brain tissue as they get older at a rate almost three times that of women. The loss of tissue could reduce their memory, concentration and reasoning power even in the 18 to 45 age range. The most dramatic loss of tissue occurs in the frontal lobes which control attention, abstract reasoning, mental flexibility and inhibition of impulses as well as in the temporal lobe, which governs memory. Men's brains also maintain a consistent rate of metabolism while that of women slow with age.
4/14/1996 - Enforcement of Megan’s Law Resumed in New Jersey
New Jersey Attorney General Deborah Poritz wrote a letter to the state’s 21 prosecutors Friday (4-12) directing them to resume enforcement of Megan’s Law. By the end of the month, prosecutors will begin notifying communities of the whereabouts of sex offenders. The law, adopted in 1994 after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a twice-convicted sex offender living in her neighborhood, was challenged last month by sex offender Alexander Artway. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the challenge but made no final decision about the constitutionality of the law
Former Detective George W. Irvine of Ventura Police Department, may seriously jeopardize the prosecution of accused rapist Peter A Stocks. Surrounded by controversy regarding his own misconduct, the former California detective who lead the Stocks investigation may not be able to testify in the Stocks rape trial.
The 47-year-old officer resigned last fall after being accused of sexually molesting two teenage girls over a nine year period. One of the victims was 12 years of age at the time of the first molestation. The case against serial rapist Stocks, who has confessed to the crime, would be severely weakened without Irvine’s testimony.
4/14/1996 - New Hope For At-Risk Pregnant Women
Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, uncovered new hope for mothers-to-be with high blood pressure. By taking calcium supplements, women can reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia. The common disorder effects seven percent of fetuses in the latter half of the pregnancy, causing fetal fluid retention, dangerous seizures, and in possibly death of the fetus. The discovery reportedly will lower health care costs by $4 billion annually.
4/14/1996 - Kidnapped Woman Frees Herself After One Month
On March 1, Eula Chiles from Tulsa Oklahoma, was abducted by ex-boyfriend Velzo Harrison and handcuffed to a bed in his apartment. After using a pair of scissors to free her feet and hands, Chiles escaped on April 8. Harrison is now in jail after keeping her imprisoned for the last month and routinely beating her with an electrical cord. Last fall, Harrison was charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
A 19-year-old Naval Academy Midshipman is being held on $35,000 bond after being charged with child abuse and assault and battery. Jeremy Michael Coale was visiting an Annapolis home on March 26 when he sexually assaulting a female toddler.
The California Assembly Judiciary Committee passed a bill Wednesday (4-10) that would impose criminal penalties on state and college officials who do not comply with bans on affirmative action. Sponsored by Assembly member Bernie Richter (R-Chico), the bill (AB 2468) would allow felony criminal penalties that could result in fines or one-year prison sentences, and would also provide for other misdemeanor sanctions including county jail time. The measure is expected to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee and continue on to the Republican-dominated Assembly; all Republican Judiciary Committee members favored the measure in the 9-4 vote. Richter acknowledged the bill was not likely to pass the Democratic-controlled state Senate. Ward Connerly, co-chair of the anti-affirmative action measure on the California ballot for November, appeared as a supporter at the Committee hearing.
Records show that since 1993, 19 students were admitted to the University of California Berkeley solely because of the intervention of VIPs, including UC Regent Ward Connerly who is leading the fight to dismantle affirmative action programs which he says amount to racial "preferences." A committee created to review such VIP referrals gave "some special consideration" to more than 200 students. UC officials said still other students were given "courtesy handling" such as being denied admission to the fall class but automatically being admitted to spring classes without needing to reapply. The Los Angeles Times found that at the University of California Los Angeles, where no such committee exists, more than 200 VIP applicants were admitted after initial rejection or having been coded for denial. The issue began an uproar last month when the Times reported that several of the UC regents who favor abolishing affirmative action for women and minorities were among those using their university influence to give preferences to relatives and friends.
4/12/1996 - Gender Gap In Doctors’ Pay Persists
According to a Stanford University researcher, young male doctors are more likely to be trained in higher-paying specialties, work longer hours, and are subsequently paid more. In the under 45 age category, male doctors made an average of $155,000 a year in 1990 while female doctors earned $110,000 a year, according to a national survey of physician incomes. The discrepancy in pay has decreased since the early 1980s and is almost non-existent among male and female doctors with similar training and hours. In 1986, males earned 46 percent more than their female counterparts according to Laurence Baker, an economist at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
In 1990, male doctors earned an average of $56 an hour while women earned $49, a discrepancy due in part to the fact that more men have higher-paying specialties and are more likely to own their own private practices. Baker noted that women’s disproportionate share of child-rearing responsibilities discouraged them from fields that require longer hours and further specialty training. The study showed that women earn 13 percent more than their male counterparts in general practice and family medicine but earn 25 percent less in internal subspecialties, even after adjustment for training and hour differences. In academia, women comprise only 24 percent of medical school faculty members and 4 percent of department chairs, according to Dr. Ruth Kirschenstein of the National Institutes of Health.
The case of Fauziya Kasinga will be heard next month by the federal Board of Immigration Appeals. The young woman is seeking asylum in the United States to escape the female genital mutilation she would be subjected to in Togo. The United Nations considers the tribal ritual a human rights violation
4/12/1996 - Clinton Vetoes Abortion Ban
On Wednesday (4-10) President Clinton vetoed a bill that would have been the first to outlaw a form of abortion since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The rarely-used procedure, technically referred to as "intact dilation and evacuation" is performed after 20 weeks of gestation when severe disorders of the fetus or complications with the woman's health necessitate removal of the fetus to save the woman's life, health or future fertility.
After vetoing the measure, which likely cannot be overridden in the Senate, Clinton held a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in which five women tearfully spoke about their own experiences and the severe complications and fatal disorders that led them to undergo the procedure. At the ceremony, Clinton said the procedure was "potentially life-saving and certainly health- saving" for a "small but extremely vulnerable group of women and families in this country, just a few hundred a year." Clinton had pressed lawmakers to include a provision in the bill to allow the procedure if a woman's health was at risk, but the bill only allowed for instances when no other procedure would save the mother's life. The bill would have subjected doctors performing the procedure for health reasons to fines, civil penalties, and prison terms of up to two years.
4/11/1996 - Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Upheld By Appeals Court
On Friday (4-5), the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays in the military instituted by the Clinton administration. The 9-4 decision said that courts "were not created to award by judicial decree what was not achievable by political consensus." The ruling upheld a lower court ruling against former Navy Lt. Paul Thomasson who had been dismissed last June after stating "I am gay" in a letter to his commanding admiral. Thomasson's lawyers say they will likely appeal the decision.
Judge Kenneth K. Hall wrote in a dissenting opinion that Thomasson's statement was "nothing more than an expression of a state of mind" and therefore not grounds for dismissal. The three other dissenting judges agreed with Thomasson's assertion that the policy is unconstitutional because it equates the words "I am gay" with illegal sexual acts. Other courts have ruled that the policy is unconstitutional and have blocked the discharge of homosexuals.
A study in the April 8, 1996 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine adds to mounting evidence that women get more complete breast cancer screenings from women doctors than from men. The study suggests that women getting mammograms are less likely to get an additional physical breast exam from male doctors. According to Dr. Karen Freund of Boston University Medical Center Hospital, "mammography is not foolproof" and studies show the addition of a physical exam can increase cancer detection by 10 percent.
While 95 percent of women received complete exams from female doctors, only 67 percent did from male doctors. Similar findings from other studies show that patients of male doctors also get fewer Pap smears and mammograms. As for breast exams, American Cancer Society spokesperson Joann Shellenbach says that physical exams are important for detecting breast cancer early, and the exams should take several minutes and be done with the woman in several different positions.