The anti-choice campaign 40 Days for Life began its series of nationwide protests yesterday, with demonstrations scheduled to take place in more than 200 cities in 45 states and 5 Canadian provinces. While investigating the anti-choice movement in anticipation of this campaign, RH Reality Check reporter Hunter Stewart found that some protestors are expanding their demonstrations to include family planning clinics that provide only contraception, not abortion.
According to Stewart's report, for two years anti-choice protestors have picketed two family planning clinics in central Wisconsin that do not provide abortions, abortion referrals or abortion counseling. The protestors object to the clinics' distribution of contraception, including condoms, birth control pills and emergency contraception. While displaying slogans against both abortion and contraception, the protestors interviewed by Stewart said they believe birth control pills and emergency contraception are "forms of murder," while condoms "encourage women to be used" and men to have "sex without repercussions."
Lon Newman, executive director of Family Planning Health Services in Wisconsin, told Stewart he's puzzled by the protestors targeting his clinic, pointing out that contraceptive use actually correlates with lower abortion rates. "I'm very proud of the results we've had in preventing probably a hundred abortions a year, maybe more, and probably 200 unintended pregnancies a year. This is life-changing, this is why we're here," Newman said. He also expressed the view that family planning is a matter of women's rights, saying, "women can't fully participate as citizens if they are not able to determine for themselves whether and when to have children."
Anti-choice sentiment against contraception has been increasingly evident recently in the form of "personhood initiatives" that abortion opponents seek to pass into state law. These measures declare that a fertilized egg is a "person" who enjoys "inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of the law." They would threaten not only abortion itself, but IUDs, emergency contraception, in vitro fertilization clinics, and stem cell research. In the 2008 elections, Colorado's Amendment 48 failed by 73 to 27 percent. In addition to failing in Montana, petition drives for similar initiatives ultimately failed in Georgia, Oregon, and Mississippi for the 2008 elections. Currently, similar petition drives are underway in Florida, Colorado and Montana.
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 9/24/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 9/14/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .