House Panel Votes to Expand and Codify the Global Gag Rule
The House Foreign Relations Committee voted Thursday to reinstate and expand a ban on funding for family planning programs in developing countries that counsel or provide information to women or advocate on a full range of options, including abortion. The ban would be an expansion of the policy, eliminating all funding for family planning programs that discuss abortion without making any exceptions for certain programs such as funds for HIV/AIDS.
Commonly referred to as the Global Gag Rule, President Ronald Reagan implemented it through an executive order; President Clinton rescinded the executive order; President George W. Bush reinstated the executive order; and President Obama rescinded it.
On the second day of a marathon session, Ranking Democrat Howard Berman (CA) proposed an amendment to the State Department and foreign operations authorization bill that would take out the restrictive language that bans such funding. Berman argued that the policy "prevents poor women and families around the world from gaining access to essential information and health care services." The Berman amendment failed by a 17 to 25 vote, which was mostly along party lines - all but one Democrat, Representative Ben Chandler (KY), voted for the Berman amendment.
Media Resources: Washington Post 7/21/11; The Cable 7/21/11
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. . . .