Women on Waves will set sail for Portugal this afternoon to bring attention to the nation's restrictive abortion policies. According to Women on Waves, between 20,000– 40,000 illegal and unsafe abortions take place in Portugal each year. A Portuguese woman can only receive an abortion up to her 12th week of pregnancy in cases of rape, malformed fetus, or if the woman’s health is in serious danger.
Portugal is the only country in the European Union that actively prosecutes women and their doctors for illegal abortion, reports Women on Waves. Women who are found guilty of undergoing an abortion face up to three years in prison, and a person found guilty of performing the operation faces up to eight years. In July, three Portuguese women stood trial for allegedly undergoing illegal abortions. Earlier this year, 17 people, including seven women, were accused of undergoing illegal abortions and were later acquitted of breaking Portugal's strict abortion laws.
Women on Waves is a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands whose mission is to prevent unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortions throughout the world. The Dutch organization provides abortion and reproductive health services to women on a specially equipped ship. Dr. Rebecca Gomperts commissioned the construction of a mobile clinic suitable for placement on a ship that sails to countries where abortion is illegal. By sailing out to international waters, she is able to provide essential reproductive services to women legally, including non-surgical abortions, contraception, and counseling. Women on Waves sailed to Ireland in 2001 and Poland in 2003.
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. . . .