Early Friday morning, Irish lawmakers passed a bill allowing abortions if the mother's life is in danger. For the first time the Roman Catholic country approved a bill in the lower house of the parliament (Dail) in a 127 to 31 vote. The controversial bill will allow a woman to terminate her pregnancy if two physicians can verify that there is a "real and substantial" risk to the mother's health in continuing with the pregnancy. Only one physician's verification is necessary if the health risks to the mother are immediate. One of the more controversial aspects of the bill is the provision that allows three physicians to approve a termination if the woman is in danger of committing suicide due to the pregnancy.
This legislation was prompted by the preventable death of Savita Halappanavar in November 2012. Halappanavar was 17-weeks pregnant when she arrived at University Hospital Galway complaining of severe back pain. Doctors determined that she was miscarrying, and despite serious threats to her health, the physicians refused to remove the fetus because there was a heartbeat. After the heartbeat stopped, she was transferred to intensive care where she died three days later of a condition similar to blood poisoning.
Many countries in the world are now facing debates on abortion laws. Most recently, an 11-year-old Chilean girl who was raped and faces serious health risks if she chooses to continue the pregnancy has sparked serious debate in her country. And a woman from El Salvador was forced to challenge the country's Supreme Court in order to receive an abortion that would save her life, in which the court rejected.
Media Resources: BBC 7/12/13; LA Times 7/11/13; New York Times 6/4/13; Feminist Newswire 7/8/13, 4/25/13, 11/14/12
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. . . .