South Carolina Republicans Back Down From Abortion Restrictions to Pass Budget
The South Carolina legislature approved a nearly $5 billion state budget yesterday that includes a provision allowing the state health insurance plan to cover abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is in danger. The budget was held up in the state House, but passed on a 64 to 54 vote on the last day of the session after Republicans who had been blocking passage compromised on the abortion language. According to the Statehouse Watch, the Republicans agreed to vote for the budget because of promises that legislative priorities next year will include a bill instituting a 24 hour waiting period for abortions and legislation to end abortion coverage in instances of rape and incest in the state health insurance plan.
Once in the Senate, an initial Senate vote ended in a tie, but the budget was cleared on a 22 to 16 second vote as the legislature narrowly met a 5:00pm mandatory deadline to end their legislative session. Governor Mark Sanford (R) will now consider the budget and potentially issue vetoes
Currently a bill instituting a 24 hour waiting period has been stalled in committee due to disagreements between the House and Senate. While both chambers passed versions of the bill in March, the Associated Press reports that the two disagree on how to calculate the one day waiting period. The House bill begins counting the time when the patient receives an ultrasound, while the Senate proposal allows women to download information about the procedure online and time-stamp it 24 hours before their appointment.
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. . . .