Kentucky Supreme Court Rules Fetus Cannot Be Considered Separate Person
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a fetus cannot be legally separated from the pregnant woman carrying it, and thus cannot be treated as a separate legal person.
In the case, Ina Cochran v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (PDF), Cochran was indicted for first-degree wanton endangerment after both she and her newborn child tested positive for cocaine in December 2005. The Kentucky Supreme Court found her charge to be in contradiction to the Maternal Health Act of 1992 and dismissed her indictment.
According to the opinion of the court, the Maternal Health Act of 1992 explicitly reads, "punitive actions taken against pregnant alcohol or substance abusers would create additional problems, including discouraging these individuals from seeking the essential prenatal care and substance abuse treatment necessary to deliver a healthy newborn." Therefore, pregnant women who abuse substances should not face punishment outside of that which a non-pregnant person would sustain.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the organization largely responsible for advancing the defendant's case, called the court's opinion a reinforcement of "the importance of Kentucky's public health approach to the issue of drug use and pregnancy." According to the group, the decision "protects the civil and reproductive rights and health of all women in Kentucky."
Although Cochranís wanton endangerment charge was dropped, her indictment for "being a second-degree persistent felony offender" withstands.
Media Resources: Kentucky Supreme Court 6/17/10; National Advocates for Pregnant Women 6/17/10
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. . . .