Studies Released on EC, Controversy Continues in States
US minority women are less informed about emergency contraception (EC), also known as the "morning-after" pill, according to a new study by ACOG. In a survey of 330 black and Latina women 18 years and older, only eight percent had "some knowledge" of EC, 22 percent had "very little knowledge," and 70 percent had "no adequate knowledge," reported Reuters Health. However, most of those surveyed (94 percent) indicated interest in learning more about EC and family planning courses. Study author Dr. Danny W. Shaban, who attributed the disparity between minority and white women to varying media outreach, suggested that public health clinics and schools assume greater responsibility in disseminating EC information and that physicians also incorporate EC awareness into patient visits.
In a related study, also presented at the ACOG meeting, researchers found that women given a supply of EC versus just a prescription were more likely to use the medication to prevent pregnancy. Study author Dr. Eliza Ng told Reuters Health, EC should be a staple in any reproductive-age woman's medicine cabinet.
Last week Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) issued a memorandum to state colleges insisting that dispensation of EC at university clinics does not violate Virginia's informed consent abortion law, which requires women to receive select information and wait 24 hours before undergoing an abortion. His statement came after James Madison University (JMU) last month stopped providing EC at the student health center, because of a letter from anti-abortion Delegate Robert Marshall (R-Manassas), claiming the drug causes abortions. In fact, EC prevents pregnancies by interrupting fertilization or preventing implantation, and the pills do not terminate an existing pregnancy. Kilgore's memo said each college's board of visitors should be responsible for deciding EC dispensation in campus clinics.
Meanwhile, a bill approved this week by the Hawaii Legislature requiring hospitals to provide EC to rape victims has prompted threats of legal action from the state's sole Catholic hospital system, St. Francis Healthcare System, reported the Honolulu Advertiser. St. Francis, claiming religion grounds, does not provide birth control or abortion services. Gov. Linda Lingle has not issued a decision on the bill.
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. . . .