Executive Action Expected This Week on Women's Rights Issues
The incoming Obama/Biden administration is expected to address several key women's rights issues within the next week. Women's rights advocates are hopeful that President Obama will issue executive orders that rescind the global gag rule and release United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) funding that was authorized by Congress and held up by the Bush administration for years.
The Global Gag Rule prohibits family planning programs receiving US federal funds from speaking about or counseling on abortion. The rule was instituted by President Reagan in 1984, was rescinded by President Clinton, and was reinstituted by President Bush. Government relations vice president at Population Action International Tod Preston told the Los Angeles Times that if the global gag rule is rescinded, it will be a "big victory for women overseasÖ.we know their health has been severely impacted by the cutoff. If you want to reduce unintended pregnancies, abortion and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they donít have access to family planning, you donít do it by cutting off US assistance."
The UNFPA is a United Nations program that deals specifically with population and family planning and has been denied federal funds from the Bush administration for seven consecutive years. The Bush White House falsely cited involvement in sterilization coercion in China as the reason for this decision, despite repeated investigations determining the accusations to be false.
Also, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act were the first bills to pass the House of Representatives this Congress. The Senate is expected to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act shortly and it is expected that President Obama will sign it. The Ledbetter act corrects the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Rubber Co., Inc. Supreme Court decision (see PDF) that gutted the ability of women workers to sue for wage discrimination.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 1/9/09, 7/18/09; Los Angeles Times 1/20/09
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. . . .