Reproductive Health Amendment Included in Defense Bill
An amendment offered by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that extends reproductive health services to servicewomen was approved yesterday by the Senate Armed Services Committee and will be included in the National Defense Authorization Act. Under the amendment, armed servicewomen will be granted the same rights as civilian women under federal policies that provide affordable abortion care to women who are the victims of rape or incest. Under the current policy, servicewomen are only eligible for abortion care if the woman's life is at risk.
Senator Shaheen said in a press release from Stand with Servicewomen, "This is about equity. Civilian women who depend on the federal government for health insurance - whether they are postal workers or Medicaid recipients - have the right to access affordable abortion care if they are sexually assaulted. It is only fair that the thousands of brave women in uniform fighting to protect our freedoms are treated the same."
The Armed Services Committee approved the amendment in a 16-10 vote. It will now go to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. According to the press release, there are almost 214,000 women serving in the military and servicewomen who are sexually assaulted are often forced to seek unsafe abortion care.
Media Resources: Stand with Servicewomen Press Release 5/24/12; Huffington Post 5/24/12; Air Force Times 5/24/12
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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. . . .