Massachusetts Hospitals Hinder EC Access for Rape Survivors
Though Massachusetts state law mandates that hospitals offer emergency contraception (EC) to rape survivors, a recent survey reveals that it may not be readily accessible in all state emergency rooms. Fourteen percent of Massachusetts hospitals required women to consult a doctor or take a rape exam before receiving EC.
�These policies are problematic because they leave open the possibility that a rape survivor may not have access to EC at a particular hospital,� said Melissa Kogut, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. They also impede rape survivors� �access to time sensitive and critical pregnancy protection,� said Liza Sirota White of Jane Doe, Inc.: The Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which cosponsored the survey.
NARAL had rape counselors call each of the state�s 69 emergency departments in February and March 2006 and ask about the availability of EC. Seven percent of hospitals reported that they let physicians decide whether to distribute EC to the rape survivor, while another seven percent of the hospitals only offer EC to women who undergo a rape exam. Five of the nine Catholic hospitals in the state had at least one of these restrictions.
The state law that allows physicians to dispense EC to rape survivors of all ages without a prescription was approved in September 2005. This November, emergency contraception became available on a nonprescription basis nationwide for women over 18. However, the Massachusetts law still benefits rape victims who may not have known that EC was an option or who may not be able to obtain EC on their own � such as women who are under 18, without an ID, or need a prescription for insurance coverage.
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. . . .