Support for Family Planning Services Strong with American Public and Congress
On the 42nd anniversary of Griswold v Connecticut, the Supreme Court case that established the right to birth control, new poll results showed yesterday that an overwhelming majority of Americans support access to birth control and other family planning services. The results of a survey conducted by Celinda Lake and released this week by the Women Donors Network and Communications Consortium Media Center indicate that regardless of their age, gender, race, or political party, Americans believe that birth control should be available without discrimination and that schools should provide comprehensive sex education.
As Americans express strong support for contraception and family planning, Congress is moving to strengthen access to these services. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), chair of the House Committee on Rules, are sponsoring the Prevention First Act that would, in part, increase funding for Title X, which provides family planning services to low-income women, to $700 million, making it comparable to 1980 spending in constant dollars (but the population of the US has gone up significantly since then). Title X funding has decreased consistently over the past two decades; in real constant dollars, Title X receives only 40.5 percent of what it received in 1980. The Prevention First Act would also require private health plans to cover birth control at the same level of other prescription drugs and allocate $10 million to education about emergency contraception. Hospitals would be required to provide rape victims with accurate information about and access to emergency contraception.
Another bill that augments Title X funding by a mere $27.8 million moved through a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee yesterday. This bill is attached to an equal appropriation to fund abstinence-only sex education.
Media Resources: Lake Research Partners release 6/5/07; National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association release 6/7/07; NARAL 6/7/07; CCMC 6/7/07
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. . . .