State Medicaid in New Mexico to Cover Abortion Pill
In August, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson rewrote state Medicaid rules to include coverage of abortion pills in cases that are deemed medically necessary. The Albuquerque Tribune reported that Gov. Richardson made changes to the rules because their vague wording precluded doctors from getting reimbursement for disbursing drugs, only pharmacists could be reimbursed for drug distribution. Because doctors must distribute the abortion pill mifepristone, commonly referred to as RU-486, the rule in effect barred Medicaid patients from receiving a medically necessary procedure. The new language was written broadly to cover all oral medications that are used for terminating a pregnancy to cover any pills that come into the market in addition to mifepristone.
The Associated Press reports that most private health insurance plans have covered mifepristone since 2000 when it went on the market. "For low-income women to not have this kind of insurance was a real slap in the face," Dr. Bruce Ferguson, an Albuquerque physician told the Albuquerque Tribune. "This is a big step forward. It gives the poor the same options as women who have jobs and insurance."
The Feminist Majority Foundation has been leading a campaign to increase clinical trials and research into the potential uses of mifepristone to treat fibroids, endometriosis, breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and other serious illnesses. However, efforts by anti-abortion extremists, including a petition to the Food and Drug Administration asking for a review of FDA approval for the drug, have severely limited access for women in the US to a potentially lifesaving drug.
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. . . .