Yesterday the Virginia Senate voted 21 to 19 to pass a bill requiring women seeking abortions to have an ultrasound. All but one Republican and two Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Because the Senate approved an amendment that was not in the original House bill, which would create an exception for women who had been raped, the bill must now return to the state House of Delegates for a vote.
Delegate Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) stated, "Tens of thousands of Virginians have made their voices heard on this intrusive government mandate that forces a woman to have a medical procedure without her consent. Playing politics with women's health and women's rights is abhorrent."
Last week, the Virginia House of Delegates voted in favor of the measure after Republican Governor Bob McDonnell submitted an amendment to the bill requiring that women undergo an external, transabdominal ultrasound, as opposed to a transvaginal ultrasound, as originally stated in the bill.
Although McDonnell initially pledged his unconditional support of the transvaginal ultrasound bill, he revised his position earlier this week, saying that he would need to review the bill before signing it. The Governor claimed that he only recently learned about the invasiveness of a transvaginal ultrasound, which requires a probe being inserted into the vagina.
Tarina Keene, president and CEO of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, stated, "Women will hold them accountable for this government overreach into their private decisions and their constitutional rights. Women should have the option of having an ultrasound, not forced to undergo a completely unnecessary procedure prescribed by politicians."
Media Resources: Richmond Times Dispatch 2/28/12; Statement of Barbara Favola 2/28/12
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. . . .