Senate Passes Defense Budget Including Abortion Access
Last night the Senate voted to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which details the military's budget and spending for 2013 and expands servicewomen's right to abortion access.
The NDAA would extend insurance coverage for abortion to military women who were raped. Currently, federal law prohibits servicewomen from using their insurance to cover an abortion for a pregnancy resulting from rape, forcing them to pay for the procedure out of pocket. The NDAA was approved with 98 votes in favor of its passage and zero against. Two senators, Kirk (R-IL) and Rockefeller (D-WV), did not participate in the vote.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the sponsor of the bill, told the Huffington Post, "It's simply unfair that we've singled out the women who are putting their lives on the line in the military. We have young women who are starting out making $18,000 a year, and they just are not able to deal with this situation on the private side when it happens to them." She hopes to convince House Republicans that the provision isn't about abortion, but fair treatment of servicewomen.
In addition, the version passed in the Senate did not include a discriminatory provision that would have allowed discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, and race if the medical provider had a moral or religious justification. This provision, added by Representative Todd Akin (known for his infamous "legitimate rape" comments), was part of the version of the bill approved by the House in May.
Media Resources: Huffington Post 12/5/12; Queerty 12/5/12; U.S. Senate 12/4/12; Feminist Newswire 8/20/12
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. . . .