House Committee Reinstates Overseas Military Abortion Ban
Last week, the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel amended the Defense Department Reauthorization Act to improve the reproductive health services available to military personnel and spouses stationed overseas by granting federally-funded abortions to women whose pregnancies are the result or incest or rape, or are life-threatening.
Yesterday, the full Armed Services Committee rejected the Subcommittee's amendments and voted to prohibit publicly-funded abortions for rape who have been raped unless their rape was "forcible" (excluding statutory rape) and had been reported to law enforcement officials. The Committee also reinstated the ban on privately-funded abortions for military service members and their dependents.
Current law prohibits abortions at military hospitals except in cases of rape or incest, or when an abortion is needed save a pregnant woman's life. Federal funds pay only for life-saving abortions only when the procedure is needed to save the woman's life.
The Defense Department Reauthorization Act will next go to the full House. A Senate version of the same legislation does not include the new abortion restrictions passed by the Armed Service Committee.
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. . . .