Ohio Senate Not to Consider "Heartbeat" Bill or Defunding Planned Parenthood
Ohio Senate President, Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond), announced Tuesday that he will not bring the two separate measures designed to attack abortion and family planning rights to the floor before the end of this legislative term.
The "Heartbeat Bill," House Bill 125, passed the House in 2011 and was awaiting the Senate. This bill would have prohibited an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Such a measure could potentially criminalize abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy - before many women know they are pregnant.
House Bill 298 would have prevented Planned Parenthood clinics in Ohio from receiving federal funding and redirected $1.7 million away from Planned Parenthood to other clinics in Ohio. This bill had yet to be voted on by the full house. If these measures were passed in both the House and the Senate, it would be the most restrictive ban on abortion in the country and made Ohio the tenth stated to defund Planned Parenthood.
According to the Washington Post, Niehaus considered a variety of reasons before deciding not to bring either piece of legislation before the Senate. "I want to continue our focus on jobs and the economy," Niehaus told the press in regards to the heartbeat bill. "That's what people are concerned about... Ultimately it's my decision not to move this bill in lame duck." He was also worried about the constitutionality of the bill if it were to face a court challenge. When Niehaus talked with reporters about the possibility of defunding Planned Parenthood, he said "I think you have to look at the entirety of the work that's done by Planned Parenthood, and I believe they offer much-needed services that are not available other places."
Because the two bills will not be voted on by the Senate before the end of the year, they must begin the legislative process over at the beginning of next year.
Media Resources: Toledo Blade 11/28/12; Washington Post 11/27/12; Feminist Newswire 11/15/12
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. . . .