Kansas Attorney General Seeks Women's Abortion Records
Two clinics in Kansas are fighting attempts by Attorney General Phill Kline to subpoena unedited medical records of 90 women and girls who sought late-term abortions in 2003. Kline’s attempt to force the release of private medical files began in secret last fall, according to the Kansas City Star. “I find the potential to reveal very personal health histories of women and girls extremely troubling,” said Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D), according to the Knight Ridder. Although Kline claims that he needs these records in order to prosecute child rape, in a brief filed with the state Supreme Court the clinics called Kline’s action a “fishing expedition,” the New York Times reports. The age of legal consent in Kansas is 16, but Kline has also subpoenaed the records of women over the age of 16.
“Why focus on the records of patients who had late-term abortions, after 22 weeks – even though many underage teens presumably obtain abortions sooner – if the intention is to punish sexual predators, not late-term abortion providers?” asks an editorial by the Wichita Eagle critical of Kline’s action. In their brief, the clinics challenging the subpoena point out that not only does Kline want the names to remain on the medical records, but also personal details such as sexual history, marital status, and employment history. “How can a woman’s method of birth control or prior history of abortions or use of drugs and medication be relevant?” the clinics ask, according to the Times.
Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita is one of the two clinics targeted by Kline. Lawyers representing the clinic, run by Dr. George Tiller, called Kline’s action “a direct and potent threat to the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights,” the LA Times reports. The clinic is also the target of an ongoing campaign by Operation Rescue West, which has been constantly picketing the clinic, the homes of clinic workers, and businesses that supply goods and services to the clinic. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project has worked closely with Dr. Tiller’s clinic over the years to counter violent attacks and threats by anti-abortion extremists. Dr. Tiller himself has courageously withstood repeated attacks by anti-abortion extremists, including an attempted assassination in 1994 by an Army of God adherent in which he was shot five times.
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. . . .