Brazilian Court Rules Against Aborting Fetuses Without Brains
Brazil's highest court has ruled against allowing abortions in cases where the fetus has developed without a brain. This disorder, which is always fatal, is called anencephaly and occurs approximately 650 times a year in Brazil. The ruling by Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal was prompted by a request from the National Confederation of Healthcare Workers that the court clarify whether abortion was legal in cases of anencephaly, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The decision throws out an earlier judge’s ruling, but does not settle the broader issue of whether abortion in cases of anencephaly is legal under Brazilian law Philadelphia Inquirer. The full high court is expected to rule on the issue shortly.
Currently Brazil only allows abortion in the cases of rape and severe danger to the women’s life. Several judges have allowed abortion in the case of anencephaly because they feel the disorder presents a risk to women’s health. While President Luiz Inacio da Silva’s Health Ministry favors limited abortion on demand, the government’s top attorney argues for the court to prohibit abortion.
The ruling disproportionately affects the health of poor women. While hundreds of thousands of women can afford to pay for abortions at private clinics, poor women must go through the public health system or turn to back alley abortions and homemade remedies, according to Knight Ridder News Service. In an amicus brief, the Brazilian Human Rights, Gender and Bioethics Institute argued that the ban on abortion for fetuses with anencephaly results in “physical and psychological torture” and “denies women their constitutional right to access health care,” according to Kaisernetwork.org.
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. . . .