In a huge step forward for women’s rights in Nepal, the King of Nepal recently signed a bill that officially legalizes abortion, makes sexual abuse against children a crime and allows women to inherit property from their parents. Under the provisions of the 11th Amendment Bill, abortion in Nepal is now legal during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and up to 18 weeks in cases of rape, incest, fetal impairment or to protect a woman’s health.
The passage of this new law was due to the efforts of Nepalese women’s advocacy organizations that worked to raise public awareness about women’s roles in society, according to the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. Before now, abortion was illegal in Nepal – women were sent to prison for the crime of abortion. While the new law is a victory for Nepalese women, it does not help the women who are currently in prison for having abortions.
Nepal has the fourth highest maternal death rate in the world - 539 out of 100,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications. The United Nations estimates that 50 percent of these women die from illegal abortions. The global gag rule - reinstated by President Bush in January 2001 to prohibit non-governmental organizations funded by the US from performing abortions - may hinder the provision of much-needed safe abortion services in Nepal. Many of the organizations serving poor and rural women will face a tough decision between accepting US funds and meeting this particular health need.
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. . . .