Sandra Fluke Testifies at House Democratic Steering Committee Hearing
Yesterday, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Steering Committee held a hearing concerning the religious exemption on contraception coverage and women's health, inviting Sandra Fluke, a student at Georgetown Law School as the sole witness. Leader Pelosi called the hearing in response to the refusal of Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to allow Fluke to testify at last week's hearing "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?"
In an unusual move, Chairman Issa did not allow the Democratic minority to have a single witness at last week's hearing, allowing testimony only from those opposed to the Obama Administration's decision on women's contraception to testify. The hearing's primary panel did not include a single woman, prompting Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) to ask "Where are the Women?"
At the hearing yesterday, Fluke spoke out for the importance of the Obama Administration's rule to ensure that Catholic students have access to contraceptive coverage under the preventive care package of the Affordable Care Act. The coverage would come from private insurance companies without any funding from religious institutions. In her testimony, Fluke stated, "I attend a Jesuit law school that does not provide contraception coverage in its student health plan. Just as we students have faced financial, emotional, and medical burdens as a result, employees at religiously affiliated hospitals and universities across the country have suffered similar burdens. We are all grateful for the new regulation that will meet the critical health care needs of so many women...We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health, and we resent that, in the 21st century, anyone thinks it's acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we are women."
Media Resources: Statement of Nancy Pelosi 2/23/12; Feminist Daily Newswire
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. . . .