A vote in the Oklahoma state Senate on a bill that would allow employers to deny contraception and abortion coverage for women in insurance plans passed the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. Senate Bill 452, introduced by Senator Clark Jolley (R) and Senator Pam Peterson (R), passed on a vote of nine to zero last Thursday.
The language of the bill states, "Notwithstanding any other provision of state or federal law, no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees."
Jolley has said that the bill is the result of lobbying by Dr. Dominic Pedulla, a constituent who calls himself a natural family planning medical consultant and women's health researcher. His concern over contraceptive coverage stems from his belief that women are worse off with contraception because it suppresses and disables who they are, Pedulla told the Tulsa World. "Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother. They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn't bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies."
Despite Pedulla's concern that contraception is poisonous, oral birth control was first FDA approved in 1960 and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advocate that birth control be available without a prescription.
Media Resources: Think Progress (2/22/13); Tulsa World (2/22/13); Oklahoma State Legislature
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. . . .