Election Comes at Key Point for High Court’s Stance on Abortion
Joan Biskupic tells readers in the USA Today that the result of the presidential election will determine which direction the court takes on Roe vs. Wade and other Supreme Court cases concerning abortion:
Only a bare five-justice majority appears ready to reaffirm the
decision. That is a change from national election cycles in the last
decade-and-a-half when at least six justices, including now-retired
Sandra Day O’Connor, supported abortion rights. A single court
appointee could decide whether abortion laws become more restrictive or
more permissive and whether Roe v. Wade remains the law.
More about this historic crossroads for a woman’s right to choose, see Hanging in the Balance.
Biskupic also notes that the issue of a woman’s right to choose will be even more directly in the hands of voters on ballot initiatives in three states:
The abortion controversy looms over state elections, too, in South
Dakota, Colorado and California, where ballot measures propose to ban
or limit abortion. South Dakota’s proposal is the most restrictive,
seeking to outlaw abortion in the state except for cases of rape,
incest and serious threat to the woman’s health. If approved, it could
become a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
You can read all about each of these initiatives that pose challenges to the right to choose in our Reproductive Health Ballot Initiatives 2008 feature.
Another No on Proposition 4 Editorial
Yet another California newspaper has come out against the state’s Proposition 4, which would change the California Constitution to require a parent or legal
guardian be notified that a girl is seeking an abortion at least 48
hours before the abortion. This editorial does a great job at placing the proposition in its historic legal context:
As far back as 1953, a law was passed that pregnant minors could get
the same types of medical care available to an adult, without parental
consent or notification. In 1987, the Legislature amended the law to
require minors to obtain consent from a parent or court before getting
an abortion. The law was never implemented as it was challenged in
court and struck down by the California Supreme in 1997.
The court noted that a consent requirement could cause some girls to
seek back-alley or self-induced abortions or to postpone abortion,
leading to more risky late-term abortions.
The article also provides an easy to read yet detailed description of the law’s fine print including the small changes from the previous version that have been inserted in an attempt to improve it’s chances of passage.
Working Women Hold Key to World Prosperity
An interesting read in Reuters considers the fact that involving women in the workforce at rates that match men’s involvement is good for a nation’s economy:
Closing the gap between male and female employment would dramatically boost the economies of OECD countries — by up to 13 percent in the euro zone and even more in Japan, say Goldman Sachs economists.
The problem that policymakers are facing is that when more women enter the workforce familes tend to have fewer children. Indeed many nations in Europe and Japan, too, are experiencing declining birth rates that are already below the replacement population rate of two children per family. A declining population could offset any economic gains made by including more women in the workforce. However, several countries have developed policies that balance the need to include women in the workforce at higher rates and childcare needs. Without much of an employment gap the Nordic States and France have figured out how to maintain higher birth rates:
"Policy can certainly affect culture," he says, citing Nordic countries, which have the highest proportions of working women and have recently stabilized falling birth rates.
"These countries decided their tax system would work better with two earners in a family rather than with one breadwinner and they developed a system that put women into work," he said.
"At the start there wasn’t total support for the system, now the changes are deeply entrenched."
The culture has changed so much that Iceland has just appointed women to head two of its main banks after the collapse of its male-dominated financial system.
First, governments have to make sure good and affordable childcare is available as without that, few mothers will even consider leaving their offspring to go to work.
Tax is also important. Bassanini says countries need at least a tax-neutral system for second earners. Some experts even advocate a gender-based system to encourage women to work more.
France, with a relatively high birth rate, has family policies that are conducive to getting women working, including generous parental allowances and good, state-subsidized childcare.
Rwanda: Teens Ask Parents to Talk About HIV/AIDS
Teens working with Right To Play,an international humanitarian organisation that uses
sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and
foster peace for children and communities, are asking parents to take more responsiblity for educating thier children about sex and relationships:
Teens that spoke to The New Times yesterday say that one of the reasons HIV/AIDS is still high among youth is that parents shy from speaking to their children about relationships and the pandemic.
"Few of us have tried to join and form anti-AIDS clubs at our schools but those are disadvantaged because most parents don’t want to talk about relationships, issues surrounding sexuality," Moses Habimana, a student a from Ecole secondary de Kanombe, said at the competition venue.