On the tenth anniversary of Canada's Supreme Court ruling that decriminalized abortion, pro-choice activists worry that violent attacks on abortion providers and political pressure are making it harder for women to gain access to the procedure.
Before the January 1988 ruling, women could obtain abortions only in a hospital setting with the approval of a three-doctor committee. The Supreme Court declared the abortion law unconstitutional, saying it "clearly interferes with a woman's physical and bodily integrity."
Access to abortion is decreasing in Canada. Many provinces refuse to cover all or any of the costs of the abortion within the Canadian universal health-care system and anti-abortion groups, such as the Campaign Life Coalition, are intensifying efforts to prohibit public funding of the procedure.
Abortion providers throughout Canada face a daily risk of violence from anti-abortion extremists. Three shootings of doctors who perform abortions occurred in November of 1994, 1995 and 1997. The doctors were each wounded by shots fired through the windows of their homes. Today, doctors who provide abortions are taking precautions, some even wear bullet-proof vests.
Abortion supporters worry that the risk involved has resulted in the shrinking numbers of abortion providers. "I feel that police are not giving enough attention and priority to finding the perpetrator of these attacks," said Dr. Henry Morgentaler, the abortion-provider who fought for the 1988 Supreme Court decision. Morgentaler, 74, still performs abortions after repeated trials, 10 months in prison and a 1992 bombing of his Toronto clinic. Morgentaler believes that legalizing abortion has lowered the infant mortality rate, reduced the number of unwanted children in Canada and virtually eliminated unsafe, illegal abortions.
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. . . .