Senate Passes Spending Bill Without Abortion Restrictions
The Senate passed a $390 billion spending bill last night that lacked funding restrictions on abortion. The omnibus bill, made up of 11 spending bills left over from 2002, passed the Senate 69-29 after a series of debates and votes on a variety of last-minute amendments.
Not included in the bill, however, were two abortion-related provisions that have been in place for decades, according to the Washington Times. One provision restricts abortion coverage for the 8 million people in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program except in cases of rape, incest, of when the life of the woman is threatened, according to Kaisernetwork.org. The other prohibits abortions for women in the federal prison system, except in cases of rape and threats to the life of the woman. President Bush’s advisors have said they will recommend he veto the bill, which finances every federal agency, if the provisions are not included in the final version of the bill, according to the Los Angeles Times. The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference committee for negotiations. Congressional aides say that at this point in the process, the abortion provisions are likely to be reinserted, the LA Times reports.
Democrats argue that the Senate bill does not include enough funding for important domestic programs like healthcare, food safety inspection, and homeland security, among others, according to AP. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) explained that she was torn between her concerns about the Republican budget and that fact that “if we don’t fund the government, it shuts down,” according to the LA Times. She ended up voting against the final version of the bill, as did 26 fellow democrats, Jim Jeffords (I-VT), and Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL).
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times 1/18/03, 1/24/03; New York Times 1/24/03; Associated Press 1/24/03; Kaisernetwork.org 1/24/03; Washington Times 1/22/03
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. . . .