Report Shows Dire State of Family Planning Funding
A report released last week by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) brought to light the dire state of family planning funding in the United States, made worse in recent years by anti-choice legislation and restrictive budget proposals. According to the report, publicly funded family planning services have declined in 27 states and the District of Columbia over the past decade, forcing clinics to turn away four in 10 women in need of subsidized contraception.
As a result of the efforts of anti-choice legislators to weaken Title X of the Public Health Service Act, which provides a range of reproductive health services for women and men who are at or below the poverty level, many of the unmet family planning needs of low-income women have fallen upon Medicaid. The report states that Medicaid currently accounts for nearly two-thirds of all family planning funding on the federal and state levels nationwide. However, the budget presented by President Bush last month proposes a drastic cut to Medicaid, further endangering the access of millions of Americans to women’s health services, according to AGI.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) recently sponsored the Prevention First bill to increase funding for multiple family planning services in an effort to reduce unintended pregnancies in the United States. The bill would more than double federal funding for family planning services, require private health plans to cover prescription contraceptive, promote the use of emergency contraception in hospitals for the treatment of rape victims, and require abstinence-only education to provide accurate information about contraceptives. However, the bill has “been met with deafening silence” by anti-choice by Republican leaders, a spokesperson for Reid told the Associated Press.
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. . . .