Progressive Groups Release Rights-Tracking Map of United States
Three progressive organizations held a press conference yesterday to announce the launch of a new website that tracks reproductive and sexual rights by state. Ipas, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective collaborated to create a database that evaluates states based on access to abortion and contraception; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues; and other concerns, such as abstinence-only education policies.
The website has a color-coded map and each state is given a profile that explains how it was ranked. Aside from providing statistics and links to relevant articles and studies, the website also links to the section of each state government’s website that addresses reproductive and sexual rights. The map reveals that Ohio and South Dakota place the most restrictions on reproductive and sexual rights, while New Mexico and New York receive the highest rankings for their state laws. The site also demonstrates a correlation between abstinence-only education and high teen fertility rates.
Speakers at the press conference, including Leila Hessini, senior policy advisor for Ipas; Jason Cianciotto, Research Director at NGLTF; and Loretta Ross, National Coordinator for SisterSong, hope it will serve as a one-stop source of information for activists, journalists, students, and anyone else interested in monitoring reproductive and sexual rights. The map is unique in that it addresses a breadth of issues, emphasizing the connectedness of many progressive concerns.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .