Health Care Law Challenged in Virginia Appeals Court
The Obama administration defended the constitutionality of the 2010 health care act Tuesday before a panel of three federal appeals court judges in a Virginia courtroom. All three randomly selected judges, two of which were appointed by President Obama himself, indicated they are likely to uphold the healthcare law.
Supporters and opponents of the law gathered outside of the federal courthouse throughout the proceedings. The hearing centered on the question of Congress' constitutional authority in regulating interstate commerce in the health care law's mandate that individuals obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.
The lawsuits, brought separately by the state of Virginia and by Liberty University, a private religious school founded by Jerry Falwell, are just two of 30 filed across the country challenging the federal law. An Atlanta appeals court is set to hear oral arguments next month on a challenge filed jointly by 26 states. This particular provision has been previously challenged in Virginia, as well as in Florida and Michigan. This hearing, however, marked the first time any of the lawsuits filed against the law has reached the appellate level.
Currently under the health care act, certain preventive procedures, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, pap smears, tobacco cessation services, and obesity prevention services, no longer require a co-payment or other direct costs. President Obama signed the final version of the health care act in March. The final law will eventually add coverage for 32 million people, increasing access to family planning and preventive care.
Media Resources: National Public Radio 5/11/11; Los Angeles Times 5/11/11; New York Times 5/10/11; Washington Post 5/10/11; USA Today 5/10/11; Feminist Newswire 2/1/11
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. . . .