Anti-abortion extremist Paul Hill, who in 1994 killed a Pensacola, Florida doctor and his volunteer escort, is scheduled to die tonight by lethal injection. Hill, an early proponent of "justifiable homicide" of abortion providers, shot and killed Dr. John Britton, 69, and volunteer escort James Barrett, 74, outside the Pensacola clinic that had previously been the site of Michael Griffin's murder of Dr. David Gunn. Hill also wounded volunteer escort June Barrett in the attack. In an interview yesterday, Hill said, "I don't feel any remorse because I think it was a good thing, and instead of being shocked, more people should do what I did. I think more people should act as I acted," according to the Associated Press.
Abortion rights advocates fear that Hill's death could make him a martyr and trigger more violence against abortion clinics. Abortion clinics in Florida and across the country are taking extra precautions. "Security's at a very, very high level," Carole Ann Steiger, of Planned Parenthood's Beach Boulevard clinic in Florida, told First Coast News. "It is so important that women have access to reproductive health care, ... that they can come to [a] place that is safe and secure."
Although severe clinic violence is down from its peak in 1994, "our national clinic violence survey reveals that violence is still threatening our nation's clinics at an intolerable level," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. The most recent survey found that levels of severe violence have slightly increased in the past two years, from 20 percent of clinics experiencing severe violence in 2000 to 23 percent in 2002. FMF's National Clinic Access Project is the largest of its kind in the US, leading efforts to keep women's health clinics open in the face of a war of attrition waged by abortion opponents.
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. . . .