The US House of Representatives voted 246-168 yesterday against the Pregnancy Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), a bill that sought to 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. The bill would have also prohibited federal funding for organizations that do not comply and medical professionals would have been required to report any suspicions of sex-selective abortions.
The bill was opposed by many women's advocacy groups and the White House because of the harsh restrictions it imposed and because it subjected women seeking abortions to greater scrutiny. Opponents argued that Asian-American women in particular would face discrimination because of the prevalence of sex-selective abortions in Asian countries. In response to the bill, a White House spokeswoman said, "The administration opposes gender discrimination in all forms, but the end result of this legislation would be to subject doctors to criminal prosecution if they fail to determine the motivations behind a very personal and private decision. The government should not intrude in medical decisions or private family matters in this way."
The bill was brought to the House floor under suspension of the rules, which means it required a two-thirds majority to pass. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) would have needed all of the Republican votes and fifty Democrat votes in order to pass. Twenty Democrats voted for the bill and seven Republicans opposed it.
Media Resources: AP 5/31/12; ABC News 5/31/12; RH Reality Check 5/31/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/30/12
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .