Idaho Planned Parenthood Pulls Out of Title X Funding for Family Planning
Planned Parenthood of Idaho recently announced that it would no longer take federal Title X funds, which provide a range of reproductive health services for women and men who are at or below the poverty level. The decision came after a bill passed the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee that would block $137,000 in the Title X funding from going to Planned Parenthood because of its support for the right to a safe, legal abortion, according to Kaisernetwork.org. Planned Parenthood of Idaho President Rebecca Poedy acknowledged the group was trying to avoid a legislative fight, telling the Idaho Statesman that "the odds of winning this battle in January are pretty slim." She also said that while demand for services for low-income men and women, particularly women of color, has increased in the past few years, federal funding has not risen to match the demand, the Statesman reports.
A similar situation occurred in Texas this summer, when a rider attached to the state budget prohibited the distribution of state funds to any organization that performs abortions or contracts with organizations that perform abortions, according to Kaisernetwork.org. Texas already prohibits state funds from being used to perform abortions, but Rider 8 goes a step further, also requiring that clinics submit pledges in writing that they will stop performing abortions or face the loss of all public funding. Six Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas sued the state, charging that Rider 8 illegally punishes clinics for providing abortions. In addition, Planned Parenthood said the funding cuts would prevent them from providing reproductive health services such as PAP tests, cancer screenings, and contraception to 115,000 low-income women. A US District Judge issued a preliminary injunction in August preventing enforcement of the rider, ruling that the state could not add requirements to federal funding.
Judge Sam Spark also ruled that Texas is "withholding funds from otherwise eligible providers ... solely because of activities the providers perform with private funds," according to the Star-Telegram. This description is similar to the Global Gag Rule, which withholds US family planning funds from organizations abroad that, with private funds, perform abortions, provide abortion referrals, or even discuss abortion with patients or in public discourse.
"Frustrated with their inability to overturn Roe v. Wade, right-wing legislators are working hard to restrict access to a safe abortion," said Beth Jordan, MD, medical director of the Feminist Majority. "Given that 33 percent of US women will have an abortion by the time they're 45 years old, the need for excellent abortion services is a reality in the US. The stealth attack on abortion rights as well as the chronic underfunding of Title X clinics only serves to ensure that unintended pregnancy rates escalate as well as the rate of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Aren't these the very things anti-choice activists claim they seek to prevent?"
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. . . .