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4/12/1996 - California Moves to Penalize Affirmative Action Supporters

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.

4/12/1996 - California University System Gives Preferences to VIP Applicants

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.

4/12/1996 - Hearing Set for Togo Woman Escaping Female Genital Mutilation

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.

4/11/1996 - Female Doctors Give More Comprehensive Breast Exams

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.

4/10/1996 - Fighter Tyson Accused of Sexual Assault

Chicago police are investigating a complaint made by a 25-year-old woman from Gary, Indiana that convicted rapist Mike Tyson sexually assaulted her in a Chicago nightclub booth. The woman, who wants her identity kept secret, is accusing heavyweight fighter Tyson of "sexual battery" in the Sunday (4-7) incident. Her lawyer said she was treated at a nearby hospital and released Monday (4-8). According to a Reuters report, a manager of the nightclub "The Clique" disputed the woman’s claim and said Tyson stayed with security guards all night and was never alone with the woman. However, CNN reported that the Sunday manager was not available for comment and that a manager on duty Tuesday (4-9) indicated that "nobody said anything about Mike Tyson being in here that night, but that’s not to say he wasn’t."

In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping Miss Black America contestant, Desiree Washington. He remains on parole after serving three in jail.

4/10/1996 - Government Accuses Mitsubishi of "Outrageous" Sexual Harassment

On Tuesday (4-9), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) a filed a sexual harassment suit against Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing on behalf of hundreds of female workers at the Normal, Illinois factory which employs 4,000 workers. Filed at the U.S. District Court in Peoria, Ill., the suit:

seeks an injunction to stop mistreatment of women at the factory
demands back pay with interest and benefits
demands compensatory and punitive damages that could reach $300,000 for each worker
calls for reinstatement of those forced to leave involuntarily
According to EEOC Vice Chairman Paul M. Igasaki, Mistubishi is "a big employer which for years has permitted gross and shocking sexual discrimination to be perpetrated upon its female workers." The EEOC said that up to 700 women may be eligible for damages for harassment that has been occurring at the plant since at least 1990. Igasaki said the lawsuit "will have a significant impact on the lives of working women throughout the country, especially those attempting to earn a living in jobs long dominated by men."

4/10/1996 - Gender Gap Hurts Dole

According to a poll issued last week by the Pew Research Center, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole trails President Clinton by only two percentage points among men (46 to 48) but by twenty points among women (37 to 57). With the boost from women, Clinton leads Dole by 12 percentage points overall.

The gender gap is issue-based. Frank Wilkinson, spokesperson for EMILY’s List, commented that women are dissatisfied with the Republican majority in Congress that has slashed spending on the old and the poor. "Women know that if the government doesn’t take care of their aged parents, they will have to do it because their husbands surely won’t," Wilkinson said. Clinton also appeals to women because of his stance on abortion rights and women’s rights.

4/10/1996 - New York Rape Case Spotlights DNA Testing

A man who was acquitted of rape in 1992 after being cleared by DNA tests was arrested for rape on Monday (4-8). Prosecutors say DNA evidence will help prove his guilt alongside evidence of a matching license plate and hair follicles. They also claim the attacker was aware of DNA testing because he tried to remove his semen from the victim with a water bottle in order to avoid getting caught. District attorney for Suffolk County, James Catterson, Jr. noted the irony in the fact that a man once cleared by DNA is now claiming that DNA evidence is unreliable

4/10/1996 - Pharmacist Convicted in Planned Assault

A jury in Contra Costa County convicted a man Tuesday (4-9) of assaulting a woman in her home despite his claims that the attack was part of a kinky sex scheme. Elliot Kwok, a former chief pharmacist for Kaiser Permanente, was jailed immediately after being acquitted of an attempted murder charge that could have led to a life sentence. The victim, Desli Lawrence, maintains that she had only gone out to dinner with Kwok and had never had any kind of intimate relationship with him. On March 6, 1995, Kwok broke into Lawrence’s home in what he said was a mock attack he hoped would lead to sex. After being grabbed in bed by gloved hands, Lawrence testified that the masked attacker slammed her head on the floor and she retaliated by grabbing her clock radio and smashing it into Kwok’s face. Kwok’s lawyer plans to ask for probation.

4/9/1996 - EEOC Files Sexual Harassment Suit Against Mitsubishi

In a lawsuit expected to be filed Tuesday (4-9), federal officials allege that Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc. violated the rights of hundreds of female workers. Chicago District Director of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission John Rowe has suggested that the case against the subsidiary of the Japanese auto company "could become the largest sexual harassment case ever prosecuted in the history of Title VII," the 1964 law barring sex discrimination in employment.

Some 30 women filed complaints with the EEOC between 1992 and 1994 and filed their own lawsuit in December 1994, which is still pending. According to the women, Japanese management of the company took male employees to live sex shows while overseas for training and consistently complained that women did not belong in factories. The women allege that Mitsubishi Motor male workers and supervisors:

kissed and fondled women

called women "whores," "bitches," and more obscene terms

displayed sexual graffiti and pictures

demanded that women perform sex acts and then retaliated against those who refused
Under federal law, victims of sexual harassment can receive punitive and compensatory damages up to $300,000. Many large cases are prosecuted under state law in states like California where laws protecting victims are stronger and damages are unlimited. Such protections are in danger if Californians vote in November to adopt the deceptive "California Civil Rights Initiative" which would legalize sex discrimination in public employment, education, and contracting.

4/9/1996 - New Leader Chosen for Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood Federation of America has chosen a new president. Gloria A. Feldt, 53, became head of Planned Parenthood's Phoenix affiliate in 1978 after serving as executive director of the affiliate in Odessa, Texas. Feldt, who married at age 15 and had three children by the time she was 20, said she understands the importance of insuring that "women have the access and the legal right to make their own choices about childbearing." Feldt indicated that Planned Parenthood needs to be "vigorous and pro- active in setting the tone" for the pro-choice debate and noted that the company's clientele has changed from families with multiple children wanting to know how to stop to couples planning their families and talking to their children about sexuality.

4/9/1996 - Japanese Computer Game Lets Men Manipulate "Daughter"

Through software called "Princess Maker," Japanese men can adopt a computer- created 10-year-old girl, choose her clothes (including lingerie) or have her sunbathe naked. The game, now in its third version in Japan claims it allows Japanese men to fantasize about having control in the home, the one place they have no say. As the girl matures, she is rated in categories which include sexiness and smarts, and her virtual "father" continues to choose her classes and jobs. However, a low-scoring player might end up with a daughter who becomes a bar hostess wearing revealing clothes.

Etsuko Yamashita, a women's studies professor at Japan's Women's University in Tokyo denounces the game as proof that young men do not have a better sense of gender equality than their parents. Most players of "Princess Maker" and its spin-offs are young men in college or high school.

4/8/1996 - Naval Academy's "Special Preference" for Football Players Exposed

While affirmative action is being attacked around the country as bestowing"special preferences" on minorities and women, many true "specialpreferences" in education and employment are being ignored. The AmericanCouncil on Education has exposed a "preference" for football players at theNaval Academy. The Academy recruits, prepares, and sometimes acceptsfootball players who do not meet the minimum academic qualifications for theAcademy. The majority of the Academy football recruits are white, and allare male.

Recruited football players (as well as other recruits) who do not meet Academystandards can be sent, attaxpayer expense, for 10 months of additional preparation to the NavalAcademy Preparatory School (NAPS). In 1995 the Academy sent 71 recruitedathletes, 87 minorities (some of whom were also recruited athletes), and 55previously enlisted servicement to NAPS.

In addition, football players who do meet academic standards receive specialAcademy admissions preference -- they do not need to compete with othercivilians for admission. And sometimes, recruited football players who donot meet academic standards, and who do not wish to attend NAPS, are acceptedinto the Naval Academy anyway, where they receive special study skillsinstruction.

The Naval Academy mission statement makes no mention of the specialpreference for football players and other athletes, although it does mentionrecruitment priorities for minorities and enlisted servicemen.

4/8/1996 - Percentage of Women and Minority Police Officers Increased Slowly, Still Low

The percentage of women and minority officers in the nation's policedepartments increased slowly in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but are stilldisproportionately low, according to a new Justice Department report. In1993, women were 8.8% of local police forces, compared to 7.6% in 1987. African Americans were 11.3% in 1993, up from 9.3% in 1987, and Hispanicofficers were 6.2% in 1993, up from 4.5% in 1987. The figures were collectedfrom a national sample of 3,000 police departments.

4/6/1996 - NIH Scientist Accused of Sex Abuse

Nobel Peace Prize winner and National Institutes of Health Scientist Daniel Carleton Gajdusek was arrested Thursday (4-4) on charges of sexual abuse. Gajdusek has allegedly brought minors from Micronesia and New Guinea to the United States and was charged for child abuse and perverted practices. In February, one college student who, at age 13, came to live with Gajdusek began cooperating with federal authorities who had started their investigation into the matter last year.

4/6/1996 - Women Lose Case Against Implant Manufacturers

Two Dallas women who had sued a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for allegedly getting sick from their breast implants lost their case in a jury trial Wednesday (4-3). They are among thousands of women who claim that leaks from silicone implants and silicone-lined saline implants have caused serious diseases of the immune system including lupus which can lead to a variety of serious illnesses. Manufacturers deny allegations of links between their products and serious medical side-effects.

In an unrelated event, two federal judges in New York plan to bring together a panel of expert scientists to weigh various claims against breast implants. If the panel successfully sorts out the issue, its decision would only affect cases in New York, but a similar procedure might then be carried out by other judges

4/6/1996 - Brown University Appeals Sex Discrimination Ruling

On Monday (4-1), lawyers for Brown University went to court to appeal a 1995 ruling that the University had to enforce Title IX, the 1972 law which prohibits sex discrimination at institutions which receive federal funding. Last March, U.S. District Judge Raymond Pettine agreed with two female athletes who sued the University in 1992 after it cut two women’s sports teams. Pettine said that, according to Title IX, the percentage of women at Brown should be equal to the percentage of female athletes and that men’s athletic programs cannot receive more funds that women’s. A lawyer for the female students who filed the suit said Brown has not complied with Pettine’s ruling.

4/5/1996 - Mexicans Searching for Jobs, Education Beaten by Police

The woman beaten by police for crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. along with 19 men said she sought better educational opportunities for her two children. Working odd jobs after the Mexican factory where she once worked had closed, Alicia Saltero Vasquez could not make enough money to provide for her children, who she hoped would surpass her second-grade education. Vasquez and Enrique Funes Flores were beaten on Monday (4-1) by two male sheriff’s deputies following a chase from the Mexican border. The beating was videotaped by news helicopters and broadcast throughout the United States and Mexico, bringing police brutality back into the limelight almost four years after police were acquitted of beating Rodney King.

Two of the Mexican men beaten Monday have filed claim against Riverside County, asking for more than $10 million and claiming the officers broke anti-torture laws. Saltero remains in the hospital, and it is not clear whether or not she will file a claim against the county.

4/5/1996 - Parental Consent Law Upheld in California

In a 4-3 decision, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday (4-4) to uphold a state law requiring minors to obtain consent from a parent or judge before having an abortion, marking the first time the Court has upheld a restriction on abortion rights since the state established a constitutional right to privacy in 1972. The Court ruled that the 1987 law, which has never been enforced due to legal challenges, does not violate minors’ constitutional right to privacy. In individual dissenting opinions, Justices Ronald George, Joyce Kennard and Kathryn Werdegar denounced the decision for endangering the health of young women.

Justice Armand Arabian, who voted with the majority, has retired since the case was argued in January, and since the vote was so close, the court might make a rare move and rehear the case. Arabian’s successor will be Justice Ming Chin, a San Francisco judge who supports the right to choose. The decision will not become final for 30 days.

The Feminist Majority Foundation has produced an award-winning video, Abortion Denied: Bettering Young Women’s Lives, which documents the devastating impact parental consent laws have on young women’s health.

4/4/1996 - New Survey Finds Sharp Decline In Clinic Violence

A newly released survey by the Feminist Majority Foundation has found that clinics reported a sharp decline in anti-abortion violence in 1995, marking the first time violence decreased in all categories. The number of clinics reporting incidents of anti-abortion violence dropped substantially from 51.9% in 1994 to 38.6% in 1995, according to the annual survey, conducted as a part of the Foundation’s National Clinic Defense Project.

"The good news is that across the board clinics are reporting less violence. The bad news is that a significant proportion of clinics -- over one-third -- are still plagued by anti-abortion violence, and this violence is dangerously targeted at physicians and clinic staff," said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Smeal attributed the overall decline in violence to the intensified enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act by the federal government, along with improved local and state law enforcement response to clinic violence.

The types of violence measured in the survey included: death threats, stalking, bomb threats, bombings, chemical attacks, blockades, invasions, arson, and arson threats. The survey, which covered violence committed during the first seven months of 1995, was completed by 310 clinics, including facilities in 44 states and American Somoa. Almost 95% of these clinics offer a full range of gynecological and other health services in addition to abortion.

4/4/1996 - Pap Smears and Safe Sex Can Prevent Cervical Cancer

A National Institute of Health panel concluded Wednesday that almost all of the 5,000 women who die of cervical cancer each year could be spared by routine Pap smears and safe sex. Second to breast cancer as the most common malignancy, cervical cancer claims 15,700 new cases in the U.S. each year. The panel concluded that "use of the Pap smear is effective in reducing morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer," and that the cancer could be eradicated if women got the test done yearly.

The panel also found that safe sex can decrease rates of cervical cancer, as virtually all cases are related to infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. The committee said that adolescent females who engage in sexual activity at an early age are more likely to develop cervical cancer from HPV than those who wait. Other risk factors include smoking, oral contraceptive use, and contracting other sexually transmitted diseases.

4/4/1996 - Gays and Lesbians Allege Bias, Sue New York Police

Claiming that the New York City Police Department did not treat an organization of gay law enforcement workers equally to other fraternal organizations, gay and lesbian police officers filed suit Tuesday (4-2) against the Department. The complaint, led by GOAL, the Gay Officers’ Action League says the Police Department discriminated against the group by refusing to allow use of a Department van during last year’s Gay and Lesbian Pride March. The department’s marching band was told it could not participate in the march.

GOAL also says the Police Department violated constitutional guarantees when it refused the league permission to hold a ceremony and display at headquarters to honor the contributions of gay police officers. Police officials have refused to comment on the suit which seeks an injunction against the Department and monetary damages.