The US House of Representatives is set to begin debate today on a bill that seeks to ban abortions that are based on the sex of the fetus. The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) has been extremely controversial and many groups are calling it an attempt to limit abortions. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), would impose criminal penalties on doctors who perform an abortion for a woman who seeks the procedure on the basis of the gender of the fetus. It also prohibits federal funding for organizations that do not comply and medical professionals will be required to report any suspicions of sex-selective abortions.
President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Vicki Saporta, told reporters that "by putting abortion providers at risk for criminal prosecution and incarceration, this bill attempts to intimidate medical professionals from providing care and from having the vitally important open and honest conversations they must have with their patients." In a joint blog post on the Huffington Post, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and the Black Women's Health Imperative wrote that the law targets women of color because "this bill means that all women - and to be clear, particularly Asian American women - who seek an abortion could face new, intense scrutiny. In particular, given the issue of sex selection in Asian countries, any woman who appears to be Asian American risks intense questioning about the decision she has made to seek an abortion."
The bill is said to come to a vote tomorrow, being brought to the floor under suspension of House rules. As a result, two thirds of the House will have to vote in favor of the bill for it to pass. The Hill says this is unlikely to occur because it would require 50 Democrats to vote in favor of the bill.
Media Resources: The Hill 5/29/12; Washington Post 5/29/12; Think Progress 5/29/12; Huffington Post 5/29/12
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. . . .