President Bush on Monday nominated Republican Mike Leavitt to replace Tommy Thompson as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Leavitt is a former Governor of Utah and currently the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Over the course of his tenure as Governor of Utah, Leavitt signed several pieces of legislation restricting women’s right to choose a safe, legal, and accessible abortion. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, Leavitt signed bills into law that imposed a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortion, required women to seek counseling before obtaining an abortion that included biased materials, and included “unborn child[ren]” as included under the state’s homicide statute. Leavitt’s administration also defended in court a 1991 law that prohibited abortion except in cases of rape, incest, life endangerment, grave danger to the woman’s health, or serious fetal defects, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. This law was later struck down by federal courts.
“I am strongly pro-life and anti-abortion,” Leavitt said in 1993, according to NARAL. “I believe in the sanctity of life at whatever stage of development that life is in.” In 1997, Leavitt said he wanted Utah to have the “toughest abortion law” in the nation, NARAL reports. In 1982 and 1988, Leavitt served as Senator Orrin Hatch’s campaign manager and chair of his campaign respectively. Hatch, a Republican, is a longtime opponent of abortion rights.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .