Despite the legalization of abortion in Nepal last September fifty women remain imprisoned on abortion and related offenses. Sapana Pradhan Malla, Chief of Forum for Women, Law and Development told Spotlight, "As the new legislation does not have the provision for retrospective affect, it will apply only to the new cases." The women—most of who are illiterate, poor, and have suffered miscarriage or stillborn births—continue to serve harsh sentences under charges of "infanticide."
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 in part 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. . . .