IL Gov. Signs Laws Clarifying Rape, Requiring Contraceptives Coverage
Late last month Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) signed a law clarifying rape as any situation where someone continues to have intercourse after the partner asks to stop. Introduced by state Sen. Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac), the law-prompted by a three-year California court case charging a 17-year-old boy with rape for continuing sex after the 17-year-old girl asked to stop-passed the state legislature last spring and is believed to be the first such law in the country, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault Executive Director Polly Poskin applauded the new law, telling the Sun-Times, "This will be very helpful in acquaintance rape cases... Just because it's he-said, she-said, just because they knew each other, just because she may have consented initially, if at any point she objects and he forcefully continues, it's now a crime in the state of Illinois."
Also last month, Gov. Blagojevich signed HB 211 into law, making Illinois the 21st state to require insurance coverage of prescription contraceptives. Though the new law-effective January 1-excludes abortions, sterilizations, and does not apply to employers philosophically opposed to birth control (e.g. Catholic Church), supporters including Rep. Ricca Slone (D-Peoria Heights) praised the move, insisting "... if we want to encourage women to take control of their reproductive lives and make responsible decisions about whether they're going to have children or not, this is something they need to have access to," reported the Peoria Journal Star.
With the price of birth control pills estimated at $30 a month plus doctor's fees, studies show that women of reproductive age spend about two-thirds more than men on out-of-pocket healthcare costs, according to an ABC News report. Meanwhile, more than half of Viagra prescriptions received health insurance coverage just weeks after the anti-impotence drug hit US markets, ABC News reports.
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. . . .