Washington State Hospitals Must Provide EC to Rape Survivors
Emergency rooms in Washington state hospitals will now be required to provide emergency contraception (EC) to victims of rape. The bill, which was signed into law last week by Washington governor Gary Locke (D), establishes a statewide protocol for treating rape survivors in hospital emergency rooms. At issue, however, are the state’s Catholic hospitals and their willingness to comply with the law. Two Catholic hospitals in Spokane announced that it had been their policy to administer EC in emergency situations to rape survivors, but victim advocates assert that few patients actually receive EC at these Catholic hospitals. Advocates claim that women may not be informed that EC is an option and that those who inquire about EC have sometimes been ignored.
Women’s rights advocates are hoping that the new law will increase access to EC. Already in Washington, women can obtain the pills from pharmacists without a physician’s prescription. Only two other states have similar policies: California and Alaska.
EC can prevent unintended pregnancy if taken within 72-hours of intercourse. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, there are 3 million unintended pregnancies in the US each year. EC has the potential to cut the number of unintended pregnancies in half and prevent as many as 800,000 abortions each year. The Feminist Majority Foundation has launched a nationwide campaign to make EC available over-the-counter throughout the U.S. and to mainstream access to the pills on college campuses. To learn more, visit www.PrescribeChoice.org.
Media Resources: Spokane Spokesman-Review, 4/1/02; 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. . . .