Anti-Abortion Activist Hired for NC Health Policy Position
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently hired an anti-abortion activist as a senior policy advisor. The hiring comes at a time when the agency is rewriting state rules regarding access to abortion.
Margaret "Mardy" Peal, who has been away from the health policy field for more than a decade, previously served on the board of the anti-abortion Carolina Pregnancy Center, which emphasizes Christian scripture and abstinence. She was an early organizer for the conservative Eastern North Carolina Tea Party, and she contributed over $1,000 to current Republican Governor Pat McCrory's 2012 campaign. In the past, she has been highly critical of government spending on Medicaid, which is one of the programs that she will oversee.
This hire is the latest in a string of politically charged hiring decisions at the agency, reports the News Observer. Earlier this year, DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos hired a woman to be director of North Carolina's pre-kindergarten and child-care subsidy programs although she had previously led an organization that opposed formal pre-K programs. The woman eventually withdrew after public outcry.
On Wednesday, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory gave his full support to Wos and suggested that he would not intervene in the decision to hire Peal. "I'm not going to get distracted into the detailed operations which my secretaries are responsible for making those hires."
Media Resources: News Observer 9/18/2013; San Francisco Chronicle 9/18/2013
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. . . .