DC Leaders Reject Deal with Congress Over Abortion Funding
Leaders of the District of Columbia rejected a legislative deal with Congress this morning that would have given DC autonomy over the city budget in exchange for a permanent measure that would ban the District from using its own funds for abortion services. The District is currently restricted by a congressionally imposed ban on DC funding of abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman or girl.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC Mayor Vince Gray, and City Council Chair Kwame Brown released a joint statement rejecting the proposal. In part, they said, "Particularly considering the many good provisions in Chairman Issa's bill, we regret that we cannot accept it, and would have to strongly oppose it if it were introduced. We recognize that the abortion provision is what Chairman Issa believed would be necessary to get the bill passed in the House. But the views of others should not prevail over the views of our own residents. Our opposition to the provision to permanently prohibit the District from spending its local funds on abortion services for low-income women is as strong as the views of those outside our city who support it... We hope the Issa proposal represents a continuation of a conversation he started at the hearing in May, not an end, and will serve as a model for how Congress can work collaboratively with the city."
Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released a draft of the bill earlier this week. In addition to granting budgetary autonomy, the bill would have also allowed the District to shift its fiscal year and to avoid District government shut downs caused by funding fights on the federal level. On Monday, Issa spokesperson Frederick Hill said that the bill's "design reflects a desire to work with District leaders on legislation that can achieve passage in both the House and Senate," according to the Washington Post.
Media Resources: Washington Post 11/14/2011; DCist 11/16/2011
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. . . .