Maryland House Increases State-Funded Abortion Access
The Maryland House of Delegates voted to increase the number of poor teenage women who qualify for state-funded abortions yesterday. The new law will offer health and insurance benefits to 60,000 more children and pregnant women whose earnings are moderate, but not low enough to qualify for Medicaid.
Although federal law prohibits the use of government dollars for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or to protect the mother’s life, Maryland law allows state-funded abortions to protect the mental health of the mother and in cases of possible genetic defects of the fetus. State officials estimate that the new law will provide state-funded abortions for 60 additional teenage women a year.
Betsy Cavendish, legal director for the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, said “By and large Maryland is one of the leading states in beating back anti-choice legislation.”
This year, the Maryland Senate voted against a ban on D&X abortions, citing interpretations of such a law that might prohibit all abortions. The Virginia General Assembly and 22 other states have passed D&X bans.
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. . . .