Women Gain Last Minute Victory at Global Earth Summit
As the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit) in Johannesburg, South Africa drew to a close yesterday, delegates agreed to add language to the final plan that guarantees access to comprehensive
healthcare and reproductive services for women. The issue had become a roadblock during the last days of the international environmental meeting. While negotiations on the final plan were completed Monday, Canadian and
European delegates were able on Tuesday to add the 10 words, “and in conformity with all human rights and fundamental freedoms,” to a paragraph that promotes the strengthening of women’s healthcare.
Canada originally proposed the inclusion of a specific statement of human rights tied to women’s healthcare in an effort to prevent such atrocities as female genital mutilation and to safeguard abortion rights. Without
this language, countries would be permitted to hide behind traditional customs and laws to vindicate the denial of reproductive services and other healthcare to women – as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, where women were not allowed to go to the hospital, to be treated by male doctors or to work as doctors themselves. Although the wording matches other international declarations on the topic, the addition of the human rights language was opposed by a coalition that includes the United States, the
Vatican and conservative Islamic countries.
The United Nations Population Fund, which recently had $34 million in funding blocked by the Bush administration, notes that 70,000 women die every year from unsafe abortions, and 585,000 perish during pregnancy and
childbirth due to inadequate healthcare.
Executive Director of Women’s Environment and Development Organization June Zeitlin said that after hours of “intense negotiations,” summit delegates added the language in a slightly different place in the paragraph. “We won, we won,” Zeitlin exclaimed. “Never underestimate the women of the world.” (Source: LA Times)
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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. . . .