First-Ever Legal Challenge to Fetal Pain Law in ID
In Idaho, Jennie Linn McCormack filed the first-ever lawsuit in the country challenging the state's "fetal pain" law, which bans abortions in the state after 20 weeks gestation. McComark, noting the lack of accessible abortion providers for women in southeast Idaho, contends that Idaho's law unconstitutionally restricts women in the region from accessing abortion services. McCormack seeks class-action status for her case against Bannock County, Idaho's prosecuting attorney, Mark Hiedman.
In January, McCormack was charged with a felony for obtaining an illegal abortion after she used pills to terminate her pregnancy. The case was, however, dismissed due to a lack of evidence. Janet Crepps, director of the US legal program at the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated, "When you think about all the regulations that are piled onto abortion, it just clearly becomes impossible for doctors to provide them and women to receive them in a situation like McCormack's. It's a really sad situation."
The American College of Gynecology refutes assertions that fetuses can feel pain at 20 week, stating that there is "no legitimate evidence that fetuses can experience pain." Idaho is one of six states - Nebraska, Kansas, Alabama, Indiana, and Oklahoma - with "fetal pain" laws. The Idaho law is modeled on a Nebraska law, signed in April 2010, which outlaws abortion after 20 weeks. These laws directly challenge the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, which allows women to obtain abortion services until fetal viability at 22-24 weeks
Media Resources: Huffington Post 9/1/11; Idaho Statesman 8/31/11; Reuters 8/31/11
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. . . .