August 2022 Newsletter Newsletter

Good and Bad News around the World – August 2022 Update

Good News World

  • President Biden took executive action in July to protect access to abortion. It directs agencies to work with medical providers and insurers to protect the privacy of women who seek or utilise abortion services, asks the Federal Trade Commission to protect the privacy of those seeking online information about abortion, and establishes an inter-agency task force to coordinate federal efforts to safeguard access to abortion. It also plans to convene volunteer lawyers to provide pro bono assistance to women to help them navigate new state restrictions. Critics see this action as limited. 
  • Liberal prosecutors in the US, even in conservative states, have signalled their intention to avoid bringing charges against abortion providers.
  • A drug company has applied to regulators in the US for permission to sell birth control pills over the counter for the first time, testing whether they could become more readily available rather than by prescription-only.
  • In Iran on National Day of Hijab and Chastity, women without head coverings posted videos and images on social media, risking arrest for defying the country’s Islamic dress code. Some met with violence, abuse, and arrest. 
  • The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has ruled that the law in Antigua and Barbados that criminalises gay sex is unconstitutional.
  • In mid-July, the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong overturned the conviction of a protester for carrying plastic cable ties. A magistrate in a lower court had ruled that the defendant intended to use the ties to illegally bind railings together to build a barricade, but the senior judges warned the authorities that their expanded interpretation of the law risked creating a ‘thought crime’.
  • The Pope has made what he calls a ‘pilgrimage of penance’ to apologise to and ask for forgiveness from indigenous people. Between 1881 and 1996, Roman Catholic priests and nuns ran residential schools linked to the deaths of thousands of children and the mistreatment, oppression and abuse, including sexual, of an estimated 150,000 children taken from their families. He did not, however, offer to facilitate what the indigenous groups are seeking: access to church archives for information on the ‘disappeared’, the punishment of abusers, financial reparation and the return of cultural artefacts from the Vatican Museums.
  • The International Court of Justice rejected Myanmar’s objections that it had no jurisdiction to hear a genocide case over its treatment of the Rohingya and the case will now be heard.  

Bad News World

  • 49 million people around the world are at risk of famine.
  • The military junta in Myanmar has executed four human rights activists, the first executions there in 30 years.
  • The US House of Representatives voted in mid-July to restore abortion rights nationwide in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the decision in Roe v Wade. However, the Bill has little chance of becoming law as the necessary support in the Senate is lacking.
  • Women with autoimmune diseases in the US have reported being refused pain-reducing drugs over fears the medicine could be used to induce abortions.
  • Mike Pence, former US vice president, has called for a national ban on abortion.
  • The US State Department said that Israeli gunfire was ‘likely responsible’ for the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American journalist who worked for Al Jazeera, but that forensic analysis ‘could not reach a definitive conclusion regarding the origin of the bullet’. It also said that the bullet was badly damaged which prevented a clear conclusion. Her family, however, have said that ‘the focus on the bullet was always misplaced and was an attempt by the Israeli side to spin the narrative in their favour.’
  • The Taliban has told female government employees in Afghanistan to send male relatives to do their jobs instead.

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