On Tuesday, the Arizona law banning abortion after 20 weeks in a pregnancy was ruled unconstitutional and permanently struck down.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 20 week ban in Arizona violated a woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability (around 24 weeks) as determined by Roe v. Wade. In the unanimous decision, Judge Marsha Berzon wrote "A woman has a constitutional right to choose to terminate her pregnancy before the fetus is viable without undue interference by the state." She continued, "While the state may regulate the model and manner of abortion prior to fetal viability, it may not proscribe a woman from electing abortion, nor may it impose an undue burden on her choice through regulation." Even the staunch anti-abortion Judge Andrew Kleinfeld agreed that while he may disagree with the practice of abortion, he was bound to uphold the Supreme Court's authority.
The judges rejected the claim that the law was not a ban on abortion, merely a regulation since doctors were allowed to perform abortions after 20 weeks for medical emergencies. In the opinion, Berzon wrote, "Allowing a physician to decide if abortion is medically necessary is not the same as allowing a woman to decide whether to carry her own pregnancy to term."
Nancy Northrup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that the ruling "should send a clear message to anti-choice politicians that their attempts to deprive pregnant women of critical health care are clearly unconstitutional."
Media Resources: Associated Press 5/21/2013; New York Times 5/21/2013; San Francisco Chronicle 5/21/2013
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. . . .