In the U.S., George W. Bush's presidency has brought a fresh wind to anti-choicers' sails: they're stepping up their campaign to prevent access to abortion, using every tactic from Internet hijacking to murder. What's worse, their methods seems to be spreading around the world.
Death Down Under Australia had its first-ever abortion-related murder in July when a man shot and killed a security guard at a clinic in Melbourne. The man, who has refused to give his name to officials, was arrested, and is awaiting trial. Margaret Tighe, chair of Right to Life Australia, came close to applauding the act and warned of more violence to come when she told the Associated Press, "Given the nature of what occurs in these places, it is a wonder there have not been any more of these incidents." —Ann Marie Dobosz
Most Wanted Now that James Charles Kopp, alleged murderer of abortion doctor Barnett Slepian, has been arrested in France (and at press time, was about to be extradited), a new violent anti-choice extremist is on the loose. Convicted felon Clayton Waagner escaped from DeWitt County Jail in Clinton, Ill., in February, and is now in hiding. He has pledged "to kill as many [abortion doctors] as I can." Waagner is reportedly compiling lists of clinic workers to target and is stockpiling weapons. He has also been posting messages to the Army of God Web site in an attempt to intimidate pro-choice advocates. At his trial for federal weapons charges last year, he testified that he had staked out more than 100 clinics in 19 states because God ordered him to hunt down and kill abortion providers. Waagner is on the U.S. Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted List, and abortion clinics are on alert. —A.M.D.
Double Jeopardy In July, Congress voted once again to ban federal funding for abortions for prisoners, except in cases of rape or life endangerment. All others must pay for an abortion, which costs on average $400. Since prisoners make 12 to 40 cents an hour for their labor, a woman who starts saving at conception will be able to afford an abortion by about the 25th week—just in time for one of those late-term abortions Congress loves so much. —A.M.D.
Hijack This On the good news front: this summer Planned Parenthood (PP) and the ProChoice Resource Center (PCRC) each won major victories against abortionis murder.org, which had been cyber-squatting their respective Web sites. Surfers who misspelled either groups' name or entered ".com" instead of ".org" were hijacked to the antiabortion site, where they were assaulted with photos of mutilated fetuses. PP and PCRC both met this latest in a series of anti-choice stealth attacks head on, with the former seeking arbitration and the latter filing suit in federal court. Bowed by the costs of litigation, Thomas Fitch, the site's originator, was forced to back down and surrender all the related domain names. Now it's safe for even bad spellers to check out planned parenthood.org and prochoice resource.org. —Lisa Amato
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. . . .