Mississippi Clinic Wins - Judge Overturns Restrictive Law
Today, US District Judge Tom Lee threw out a Mississippi law that banned early second trimester abortions at clinics, declaring it unconstitutional. The law would have required women to go to hospitals or surgical facilities to obtain an abortion at any point after 13 weeks. Governor Haley Barbour had pushed the law through the state legislature, and vowed to drive the Jackson Women's Health Clinic, last abortion clinic in the state, out of business. That clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, challenged the law with the help of the Center for Reproductive Rights. Lee, a Republican, overturned the law because of the burden it placed on women exercising their right to choice. Last year, he also blocked enforcement of this law, which would otherwise have gone into effect on July 1, 2004.
Susan Hill, the president of the Women's Health Organization, which owns the clinic, told the Feminist Majority Foundation "we’re thrilled with the ruling – it's a lonely victory for women in Mississippi. We're surprised and happy that a federal judge in Mississippi saw the burden to women in this statute." In the ruling, Judge Lee writes that the measure "had the effect of unduly burdening a woman's right to choose an abortion, and was thus constitutionally infirm."
Mississippi has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, as well as one of the highest infant-mortality rate and the highest teen birthrate. Women need access to reproductive services, and this ruling ensures that their access will continue. The Jackson Women's Health Organization has faced many challenges, from threats by anti-abortion protestors to punitive restrictions imposed by state lawmakers. The Feminist Majority Foundation is proud to have helped it through these trials, and congratulates the clinic and its advocates on this victory.
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. . . .