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Improvements and setbacks for women in America

While black pride took a giant step forward yesterday, women's rights came increasingly under threat.

Almost lost in the news of Obama's victory, there was both good and bad news for women in several states in the US.

The good news is that in Colorado and South Dakota, voters rejected ballot measures that would have restricted access to abortion. 

In Colorado, the ballot, which would have led to a recognition of fertilised eggs, even those outside a womb, as 'persons' - thus probably ending any possibility of in vitro fertilisation for infertile couples - was rejected by a whopping 74 per cent of voters.

In South Dakota, the ballot would have restricted abortion to victims of rape or incest, or women whose health was in danger, and any doctors performing abortions outside of those circumstances would have faced jail or fines. This too was rejected.

Sadly, rights for gay couples were lost in California, Arizona, Florida and Arkansas. 

California's Proposition 8, which sought to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, was passed by 52 per cent, thus invalidating all the recent gay marriages that have taken place - a huge blow for hundreds of people.

The Arizona measure, Proposition 102, redefined marriage as 'between one man and one woman', therefore denying gay marriage rights in that state (passed by 56 per cent), while a bigger victory for the right came in Florida, where Proposition 2, also redefining marriage as a union between one man and one women, passed by 63 per cent.

In Arkansas, came the worst results of all, as gay and lesbian couples, whose marriages cannot be legally recognised in that state, came under a blanket ban on 'unmarried couples' adopting or providing foster care for children. This passed with 57 percent voter approval, a sad defeat for many committed couples who want to raise children, and for the many children who need caring and stable home environments.

So, a grim day for gay rights in the US, but hopefully there will be a fight back and legal challenges to all the rulings will ensue.

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