California to Challenge "Back-Door" Anti-Abortion Provision
Attorney General Bill Lockyer of California announced yesterday that he will go to court to challenge the constitutionality of an anti-abortion provision signed into law this week by President Bush as part of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for 2005. The amendment, misleadingly titled the “Abortion Non-Discrimination Act” and also known as the Federal Refusal Clause, will not only allow health care professionals, hospitals, and health insurance providers to refuse to comply with state laws protecting a woman’s right to an abortion while still accepting state funding, but it will also disallow states from enforcing these laws due to the threat of loss of a wide range of federal funding, even those unrelated to reproductive health, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“This is an unacceptable attack on women’s rights and state sovereignty, and a back-door attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Lockyer said. “With this provision, what the federal government says to California is this: If you want back your own taxpayer dollars for important programs that serve all the people of your state, you first have to refuse to protect the constitutional rights of the women who live in your state. That is wrong, it is unlawful, and I will fight to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
The anti-abortion provision will affect several California state laws, including the state constitutional right to privacy which requires California to remain neutral on the subject of abortion; a law requiring public hospitals and clinics to offer abortions if they also provide prenatal care; Medi-Cal regulations that provide payment for poor women’s abortion services; a law that allows California to withhold state funding from institutions that discourage women from having an abortion; and a law requiring school health clinics to offer abortion counseling and referrals, among others, reports San Francisco Chronicle.
Lockyer’s announcement was endorsed by California Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Lockyer is thought to be a likely Democratic candidate for California’s 2006 gubernatorial race against current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, reports Reuters.
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. . . .