Anniversary of Roe Met, Once Again, with Rallies of Support and Protest
Supporters and opponents of reproductive freedom participated in events across the country yesterday, marking the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade that legalized abortion for women in the US. Across the country - from Washington, DC to Wichita, KS and San Francisco, CA - events marked the political climate around abortion rights in the US.
The Annual March for Life in Washington, DC, which was heavily supported by the Knights of Columbus, Catholic dioceses, and parochial school children, garnered small press coverage. While the organizers are claiming that tens of thousands attended, eyewitnesses report that the numbers seemed more like thousands than tens of thousands. As usual, President Bush addressed the anti-abortion crowd by a telephone call from Camp David. An additional anti-abortion protest outside of the Metro Washington Planned Parenthood clinic was also extremely small. Just one busload of demonstrators stayed some 15 minutes.
Roe events in Washington, DC closed yesterday with a vigil organized by the National Organization for Women on the steps of the Supreme Court. The speaker line-up ended with DC Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) who spoke of the inability for women in the military to get an abortion, and the heightened hurdles to reproductive freedom that lower-income women face.
In Wichita, anti-abortion group Operation Rescue demonstrated for four days outside of the clinic where Dr. Tiller, one of the few late-term abortion providers in the US, works. On Friday, January 19, their opening day of protests, some 23 anti-abortion activists were outnumbered by twice as many supporters of the clinic. Despite calls from Operation Rescue's leader Troy Newman, who estimated at least a hundred in attendance, and FOX News host Bill O'Reilly, who said that "there should be thousands of people demonstrating outside Tiller�s abortion clinic," a member of the Feminist Majority Foundation�s field team reported that the largest attendance for any single event was between 50 and 60 anti-abortion protestors.
Finally, in San Francisco, several thousand anti-abortion activists marched while supporters staged a solid counter-protest.
"The relatively low turnout of anti-abortion activists on the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade plus the overwhelming wins in the ballot box of pro-choice candidates and the defeat of three initiatives shows that the anti-abortion movement is waning," said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal of the events yesterday. "The debate over abortion bans, stem cell research, and the decision in the Terri Schiavo case has weakened the political clout of the anti-abortion movement."
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. . . .