Afternoon Roundup: Republicans Block Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on Eve of Human Rights Day

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell falls temporarily – and with it the hopes of a repeal of the military abortion ban; the U.S. fails on almost all measurable goals for improving women’s health; Afghan women get a hand from the UN and a new report and more.

  • The irony that Republicans have blocked a vote on the Defense Bill which included a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, delaying the opportunity for our Gay and Lesbian service members to be treated with dignity and respect by our governmentt, cannot be lost on anyone who knows that Human Rights Day 2010 is tomorrow. It’s the day when we commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As UN Ambassador Susan Rice said in a statement this evening,

On Human Rights Day, the United States celebrates deep truths we hold to be self-evident and honors a stirring Declaration signed by 58 nations—a universal affirmation that human beings have equal worth, equal dignity, equal consequence, and equal rights. And we continue to work for the day when no one will endure discrimination or suffer persecution.” But not everyone continues to work for that day – not, apparently, some Republicans who are not willing to allow all Americans the right to live free from discrimination and persecution. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) say they’ll introduce a stand-alone bill to repeal the policy, however.

  • It is, of course, worth noting that the block on a vote on the Defense Bill also takes a repeal of the military abortion ban off the table, for now, as well. The abortion ban is included in the bill. The military abortion ban is deeply discriminatory, barring safe and legal access to abortion care for our female service members or female relatives of military members, covered under the military health insurance. The ACLU has more
  • Nick Baumann at Mother Jones has an in-depth exploration today into the push, led by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to essentially end insurance coverage for abortion care, via the decidedly incompletely named “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” Bill. The law would permanently codify the Hyde Amendment into law; the amendment which prevents federal funds from going towards abortion care (thereby ensuring that low income women and women of color are disproportionately affected by this lack of access). But it would go far beyond that by referencing “tax benefits” quite vaguely, likely preventing Americans who have health savings accounts and non-employer paid insurance coverage from accessing any private insurance coverage for abortion. 
  • The United Nations, today, urged leaders of Afghanistan to enforce a recently enacted women’s rights law in the wake of what a recent report has documented as on-going women’s rights violations in the country. From child marriage to honor killings, women’s rights are being undermined but, with the passage of this new law, the country has the opportunity to make significant change. 
  • The U.S. is failing when it comes to women’s health. According to a new report from  the National Women’s Law Center and Oregon Health Sciences University, we have fallen short of almost every single measurable goal from incidences of Chlamydia rising to the number of women accessing Pap smears decreasing. We have not met the federal government’s Healthy People 2010 goals – our unintended pregnancy rate hovers at 50%, the goal is 30%. Only seven states require that prenatal care is covered in all individual and group health plans. More here.

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