After nine years of resistance, the Japanese Health Ministry has finally conceded that there is no reason to withhold approval for contraceptive pills.
After the male impotency drug Viagra was approved for use in only 6 months, Japanese feminists and members of the news media questioned the Health Ministry's decision. Dr. Kunio Kitamura, director of the Japan Family Planning Association in Tokyo, said, "If there's any drug that should be approved, no questions asked, it's the pill."
Health officials have made all sorts of excuses for the resistance, claiming that access to oral contraceptives will destroy Japan's morals. Others have cited fears that the Pill's hormones will cause environmental harm, or suggest that access to oral contraceptives will discourage couples from using condoms, encouraging the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Finally, a Health Ministry committee has announced that it expects to approve the Pill for use in Japan this June, after appropriate use guidelines have been drafted for patients and doctors. Even after the committee okays the drug, the Health Ministry must also grant its approval. This decision will likely be announced within a month of the committee's decision.
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. . . .