Oklahoma Tightens Laws to Deny Teenagers Abortion Rights
Starting today, girls in Oklahoma under the age of 18 will be forced to abide by stricter parental consent laws in order to obtain an abortion.
The Oklahoma Board of Health voted in early October to update the state's previous parental notification laws. The laws will now require girls seeking abortions to have their parents provide government-issued identification and written documentation that proves he or she is the parent, has been notified, and consents to the procedure. The board voted to require that in cases of emergency, a doctor can go ahead and perform an abortion, but the parents must be notified afterwards by mail.
Minors may receive a judicial waiver of the parental notification requirement only under three circumstances: if there is a medical emergency, if the minor is a victim of abuse or neglect, or if a judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that the minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed to decide whether to have an abortion. These circumstances are open to interpretation, and they can put vulnerable teens in danger.
Earlier this month, a 16-year-old girl in Nebraska's foster care system was denied an abortion when a lower court judge - who had previously been an attorney for anti-abortion extremist group Operation Rescue - found that the girl was not mature and informed enough to make the decision to have an abortion, despite strong evidence to the contrary. She will be forced to carry her pregnancy to term.
"Quite ironically, the legislature seems to be saying that an immature teen cannot have an abortion but can become a parent," Martha Skeeters, president of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, told RH Reality Check.
Media Resources: The Oklahoman 10/9/13; Open States; Feminist Newswire 10/7/13; RH Reality Check 10/18/13
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. . . .