Congress Upholds Abortion Ban for Servicewomen Overseas
Both the US House and the Senate rejected amendments to $400 billion defense spending bills that would have repealed a ban on abortions for women stationed overseas. The amendments, sponsored in the House by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and in the Senate by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) were rejected on votes of 227 to 201 and 51 to 48. "No woman should be forced to surrender her constitutional rights as they risk their lives to protect our freedom," Sen. Murray said as reported in the New York Times.
Currently, women stationed overseas and military dependents are not able to obtain abortions at military health facilities, even with private funds, except in cases of rape or incest - which must be paid for with private funds. This policy discriminates against US servicewomen or female military dependents just because they are stationed overseas, as noted by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). It also endangers the health of women overseas by forcing those who need an abortion to seek what could be unsafe or illegal services in the host country. In addition, the privacy of these women could be at stake if they are forced to tell a military superior that they need an abortion and therefore need a flight back to the United States, according to PPFA.
Abortion rights supporters in Congress have offered similar amendments on an annual basis since 1996. The ban, which was put into effect by Congress in 1988, was lifted for two years under the Clinton administration but reinstated by Congress in 1996.
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. . . .