Law Allowing Limited Abortion Passes First Vote in Ireland
The Irish Parliament voted to support a bill that would allow a pregnancy to be terminated if the woman's life is at risk. After a vote of 138 to 24 it now faces a second reading and possible amendments. The final vote on the legislation will take place next week.
Ireland has had a constitutional ban on abortion since 1986, meaning that the lives of the woman and the unborn fetus are defined equally under the law. This new bill would allow abortions for women who are suicidal and at risk of ending their lives because of the continuation of the pregnancy. The consent of three doctors would be required prior to the abortion. The Catholic Church is criticizing the bill because they believe that the suicide-threat rule is too vague and therefore at risk of being abused.
Ireland's absolute abortion ban came under international scrutiny last year when a woman died after being denied an abortion. Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she arrived at University Hospital Galway complaining of severe back pain in October 2012. Hospital staff determined she was miscarrying, however doctors refused to remove the pregnancy until three days later. After the pregnancy was removed, Savita was transferred to intensive care where she died three days later of what was determined to be septicaemia (similar to blood poisoning).
Media Resources: Boston Globe, 7/3/2013; BBC News, 7/2/2013; Telegraph, 7/2/2013; Feminist Newswire 11/14/2012
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. . . .