A court hearing has not been scheduled yet in the case of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy (CRLP) v. George W. Bush, but Janet Benshoof, president of the CRLP says, "Oh, we’re gonna win." The CRLP filed suit against Bush on June 6, 2001, for censoring the speech of U.S. citizens with the Global Gag Rule. Many people know that this policy restricts the rights of foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. aid by forbidding them to use their own money to speak about abortion law reform. But what many people do not realize is that it also restricts the rights of U.S. organizations like the CRLP. Before the gag rule was put into effect, the CRLP was able to freely distribute and exchange information with foreign partners that supported abortion rights. But because of Bush’s policy, their partners who receive U.S. aid are gagged, and the work of the U.S.-based, nongovernment funded CRLP has effectively ended.
"Bush took away my right to speak because I support a position with which he disagrees: that access to safe and legal abortion is a human right of women worldwide," said Benshoof. "The Global Gag Rule is global censorship that violates fairness, freedom, and democracy."
The gag rule is not new news. President Ronald Reagan imposed the order in 1984, keeping people in countries like Mexico, Nepal, and Zimbabwe in their place by not allowing U.S. funded organizations to openly discuss or support abortion, even in countries where the procedure is legal. President Clinton’s 1999 version of the rule, which gagged both pro-choice and pro-life viewpoints, seems almost democratic in the face of Bush’s reincarnation of the Reagan original that just says no to choice.
The CRLP cannot organize conferences and rallies, disseminate factual information, or engage in public discussions about abortion in foreign countries, and that silence increases the risks to women’s health. About 78,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions, and without access to information, that number may never decrease. Gagged organizations often are not even comfortable providing services like life-saving abortions and post-abortion care (permitted under the terms of the gag rule) because of the fear of being associated with abortion and losing U.S. aid.
Unlike past cases, which have focused on the free speech claims of foreign organizations, the CRLP lawsuit has standing in the U.S. court system. The reproductive rights organization is currently in the briefing stage with the Southern District of New York in the U.S. District Court, and hopes to file the lawsuit soon.
Laura Katzive, staff attorney for CRLP argues, "With the Global Gag Rule, the U.S. Government is imposing laws on people who are not constituents and who cannot hold President Bush accountable politically. The Bush administration also assumes that American women and advocates will remain silent because they think the Global Gag Rule doesn’t affect them. They’re wrong."
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. . . .