Defense Bill Amendment Would Authorize Abortions at Military Hospitals
Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16 to 10 to add an amendment to the defense spending bill last week that would expand abortion access to women seeking care at US military hospitals. The amendment, sponsored by Senator Roland Burris (D-IL), would overturn a ban on abortion access at military medical facilities that was instituted in the mid-1990s. According to the Post-Dispatch, two senators voted across party lines: Ben Nelson (D-NE) voted against the amendment and Susan Collins (R-ME) voted for the amendment.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a press release, "The vote repealing this discriminatory and dangerous ban is the first step to ensuring that servicewomen can use their own private money for abortion care when they are serving overseas."
Until recently, emergency contraception (EC) was also not available at US military base health facilities worldwide. The Pentagon authorized providing EC at these facilities in February 2010. This change is a result of a recommendation from the Pentagon's Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, which voted in November 2009 that both Plan B and generic Next Choice should be included on the basic core formulary, a list of medications that are required to be stocked at all military health facilities. EC is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or rape, but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours. Because of the time-sensitive nature of EC, over-the-counter access is crucial to its effective use. EC does not terminate an existing pregnancy.
Media Resources: Post Dispatch 5/28/10; Planned Parenthood Press Release 5/28/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/5/10
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. . . .