In a victory for Nepalese women, the Lower House of Parliament amended the Nepalese Civil Code to legalize abortion in the first trimester, in cases of rape or incest, or to protect a womanís health. Nepalís king must now sign the legislation for the new laws to take affect.
Nepal has the fourth highest maternal death rate in the world. In the U.S., only 7 women out of 100,000 die as a result of pregnancy or childbirth. In Nepal, however, 539 women of reproductive age out of 100,000 die each year from pregnancy-related complications, and the United Nations estimates that 50 percent of these women die from illegal abortions. Desperate women have submitted to abortions performed using sticks or shards of glass, among other horrific methods. Up to 60 percent of women admitted to OB/GYN wards in a Kathmandu hospital suffer from post-botched abortion complications, including hemorrhaging, gangrene, and sepsis. Six women die every day in Nepal from illegal abortions.
The global gag rule, however, may hinder the provision of much-needed safe abortion services in Nepal. Many organizations serving poor and rural women will face a tough decision between accepting U.S. funds and meeting this particular health need. President Bush re-instated the gag rule, a U.S. policy that prevents family planning programs receiving U.S. funds from providing, counseling, or promoting abortion even if these activities are funded with separate monies, in January 2001.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .