Hawaii Governor Vetoes EC Bill; State Lawmakers Consider Override
Members of the Hawaii state legislature have vowed to fight back against Republican Governor Linda Lingle's veto of a bill that would have required hospitals to provide emergency contraception (EC) to sexual assault survivors. However, Hawaii Senate President Robert Bunda (D) said this week that an override of the governor's veto does not seem to have sufficient support in the state Senate, as reported by the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report. Members of Hawaii's House Democratic leadership are considering calling a special legislative session to override several of Lingle's vetoes - including the EC bill and $3.6 million in social service funding cuts that would affect Kahuku Hospital and the state's sex abuse treatment center.
If Lingle had signed the EC bill last month, it would have imposed a $5,000 fine for each time a hospital denied information about EC. The New York State Legislature recently passed a similar bill for hospitals in New York; New York Governor George Pataki has indicated that he will sign the bill, according to the Associated Press.
However, Hawaii recently became the fifth state to make emergency contraception available from pharmacists without a doctor's prescription. "This is far from a small regulatory change," writes Kirsten Moore, president of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, in The Nation. "It means the next time it's 2 o'clock on a Friday night and the condom breaks, a woman there won't have to wait until the following Monday to find a doctor to write a prescription and then wait to get the prescription filled. She can go directly to her neighborhood pharmacist." EC is most effective when taken within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, though it can be effective for up to five days.
The Feminist Majority Foundation and other women's health groups are working to make EC available over the counter so women can access this pill quickly and easily all over the United States. Women's Capitol Corporation, the makers of Plan B, the progestin-based form of EC, will be submitting paperwork in April to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting that Plan B be made available over the counter. The Feminist Majority Foundation is collecting petitions from all over the country advocating for EC over the counter.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .