Senate Votes to Lift Ban on Overseas Abortions for Military Personnel
Legislation that could repeal a federal ban on abortions overseas for women serving in the military passed today in the US Senate by a vote of 52-40. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced an amendment to a $393 billion defense-spending bill that would lift a ban on obtaining abortions at military facilities for US servicewomen and military dependents - even if they pay for the procedure with their own funds. In a statement on the Senate floor yesterday, Murray pointed out that 100,000 service women and dependents stationed overseas are denied a basic constitutional right enjoyed by women at home. Currently, these women must obtain approval from their commanding officers to travel back to the United States in order to undergo the procedure. While this ban was lifted by the Senate, the Republican-controlled House rejected a similar amendment in a 215-202 vote last month. The amendment will also have to go before President Bush as part of the defense-spending bill.
Congress voted to ban abortions at military facilities in 1988. President Clinton then lifted the ban in 1993, however, three years later, Congress acted again to overturn that decision in the 1996 defense appropriations bill. Exceptions to the ban include situations when the life of the woman is endangered – in which case the government will foot the bill for the procedure. The ban is also lifted in cases of rape or incest; however, the woman is required to pay herself.
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. . . .