Utah Enacts 72-Hour Mandatory Waiting Period for Abortions
This week, Utah became the only state in the country to enact a law that requires a 72- hour waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion. The state measure, passed earlier this year and enacted on Tuesday, requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo a face-to-face consultation with a medical practitioner at a clinic, then wait 3 full days before the actual procedure. The effect of the law is compounded by the fact that there are only two clinics that provide abortions in the entire state of Utah, both located in Salt Lake City.
Planned Parenthood Director Karen Galloway said the way the law is written, no one is in charge of overseeing compliance. "We're left with a system that right now puts the burden - in fact a possible criminal burden - on the physician providing the procedure with no verifiable process for confirming the informed consent."
According to RH Reality Check, the law "sounds quite a bit like nearly every other piece of anti-choice legislation, determined to create a process so laden with potential legal pitfalls that no doctor will feel comfortable providing abortions." Opponents of the law have not ruled out the possibility of filing a lawsuit, though Galloway notes, "the reality of doing a legal challenge is daunting - the cost and time, all of that."
South Dakota passed a similar law last year, but it was challenged in court before it ever took effect. 26 other states require a waiting period of 24 hours.
Media Resources: Democracy Now 5/9/12; International Business Times 5/9/12; RH Reality Check 5/7/12; Salt Lake City Tribune 5/7/12
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. . . .