Members of Congress Urge Inclusion of EC in Federal Sexual Assault Guidelines
Ninety-seven US Lawmakers, led by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), sent a letter Tuesday to the Department of Justice, in which they "strongly urged" the revision of its new guidelines for the treatment of sexual assault survivors to include information about emergency contraception (EC). The letter, to Diane Stuart, Director of DOJís Office on Violence Against Women, says that "by failing to even mention ... [emergency contraception] as a potential option for sexual assault victims, the department ignores a crucial opportunity to provide vital and time-sensitive health care to victims of rape and sexual assault." Maloney said, "It is clear that the administration's ideological opposition to choice now even extends to rape victims. Women who are sexually violated at the very least deserve the right to prevent unwanted pregnancies."
EC is exceedingly safe and effective if taken within 5 days but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours after any unprotected sexual intercourse, when a condom breaks, or after a sexual assault. EC has the potential to cut in half the 3 million unintended pregnancies in the United States each year and prevent as many as 800,000 abortions a year. In some states, such as New York, hospitals are bound by law to offer emergency contraception to rape victims. The Justice Department's recently released guidelines don't mention offering EC to rape victims - an omission that has spurred criticism from many womenís, civil liberties, and health groups across the country.
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. . . .