In The News

Mar 31, 2009

NATIONAL – Within 30 days, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) must make Plan B, emergency contraception, available to 17-year-olds over-the-counter, without a prescription, and the agency must consider removing the age restriction on the drug entirely. A federal judge ruled in March that the FDA’s previous decision to deny over-the-counter status to Plan B was “arbitrary and capricious” and based on “political” rather than scientific considerations. Also known as the “morning after” pill, Plan B is used by rape victims as well as women who had unprotected sex and do not wish to become pregnant.

DC – An arrest warrant has been issued in the case of Chandra Levy, the federal intern who disappeared in 2001. Levy’s remains were found in Rock Creek Park a year later. The Washington Post reports that Ingmar Guandique, already in a California prison for assaulting two women, is being charged with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault. The case remained unsolved until witnesses told police that Guandique confessed to raping and killing Levy in conversations and letters. If convicted, he will face an additional 30 to 60 years in prison.

NH – In an attempt to explain why he was voting against funding for a domestic violence shelter, a Conway official said that women use domestic violence as a “gimmick” in divorce proceedings. The comment sparked an online education campaign about the consequences of domestic violence as well as a call for donations to Starting Point, the organization that was denied funds, the Conway Daily Sun reports. “I think comments like that are blatantly based on Neanderthal thinking,” County Attorney Robin Gordon told the Associated Press. “I think it’s a shame our legislators don’t understand the value of a program such as Starting Point.”

OH – A domestic argument prompted a Cleveland man to shoot his wife of less than a week, his sister-in-law, and her three children before killing himself. Following the murders, Davon Crawford led police on a 20-hour manhunt before killing himself. He was previously convicted in two other domestic incidents, one in 1995 for involuntary manslaughter and one in 2002 for shooting a gun at his then-wife. Crawford wrote to a judge in 2005 asking for parole, saying, “I have honestly been getting my act together, because I truly want to be that loving husband to my wife and that good father/role model to my children,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Crawford’s parole at that time was denied.

PA – Susan Kelly-Dreiss, co-founder of the nation’s first domestic violence coalition, will be honored in October by the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Kelly-Dreiss started the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and is a founding member of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. She played a key role in drafting federal legislation, including the Federal Violence Prevention and Services Act. Attorney and author Karen DeCrow, civil rights activist Dr. Allie B. Latimer, and author Emma Lazarus are among the others who will be inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame this fall.

AFGHANISTAN – Rape, honor killings, early and forced marriages, sexual abuse and slavery are still widespread in Afghanistan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay told the Human Rights Council in Geneva. In her annual report, Pillay warns that women – particularly those who work in government agencies, journalists, police and lawyers – are experiencing even greater fear and intimidation. The report urges the government to make a greater effort to protect the rights of women and children.

SUDAN – The International Criminal Court has charged President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity for playing an “essential role” in the murder, rape, torture, pillage and displacement of large numbers of civilians in Darfur, the New York Times reports. An estimated 300,000 residents have died and 2.5 million have been displaced since the conflict in that country began. Rather than comply, Bashir has driven foreign aid and humanitarian groups out of Darfur, ostensibly for providing information to the Court, which has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis.