Poland's Restrictive Abortion Laws Criticized by UN Committee
The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently criticized Poland's strict abortion laws. According to Kaisernetwork, Poland’s laws “puts women’s lives at risk by encouraging them to seek illegal abortions, sometimes from untrained practitioners.” Women on Waves, the Dutch organization that traveled to Portugal last year to bring attention to the nation's punitive abortion policies, estimates that 200,000 illegal abortions are conducted in Poland every year.
Abortion restrictions were reinstituted in Poland in the early 1990s after decades during which abortion on demand was the policy in the country. Currently, abortion is illegal in Poland except in cases of rape, incest, when the fetus is deformed, or when the woman’s life is in danger and doctors face up to three years in jail for performing illegal abortions. Poland’s Democratic Left Alliance is sponsoring a bill that will allow women to have abortions up to their 12th week of pregnancy, however no date has been set for the parliament to discuss the bill, reports Reuters. Some conservative groups in Poland such as the Polish League of Families, a Catholic opposition party, are working to completely outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape, reports Reuters.
Meanwhile, several European women’s organizations are calling for a major mobilization to protect women’s sexual and reproductive rights in Europe. The Women’s World March will held in Marseille, France, in May 2005 to bring attention to the increasing threats made by anti-abortion lobbies in Europe, including the influence of the Catholic Church and conservative parties in European parliaments, to restrict abortion rights.
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. . . .