Last week, a Texas court of appeals ruled that denying Medicaid funding to poor women seeking abortion violates their equal rights. Federal law prohibits the use of Medicaid funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. In a 2-to-1 decision, the appeals court ruled that using those guidelines violates women’s equal rights by restricting their access to medically necessary procedures, while men face no such restrictions. Judge Bea Ann Smith wrote the ruling, arguing that the decision applied to medically necessary abortion procedures only. Anti-choice advocates are protesting the decision, saying it will greatly increase the number of abortions among poor women. Pro-choice activists note that improving access to abortion could curb unsafe, illegal abortions among poor women. In 1977, Rosie Jimenez became the first victim of the Hyde Amendment that bans the use of federal money for abortions except to save a woman’s life. Jimenez was a poor, single mother saving money for college who decided to have a back alley abortion instead of using her tuition money so that she could some day make it off welfare and support herself and her daughter on her own.
Media Resources: Associated Press – December 8, 2000 and Feminist Majority Foundation
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. . . .