Massachusetts May Soon Have Pharmacy Access to Emergency Contraception
This week, the Massachusetts House and Senate both overwhelmingly approved legislation to make emergency contraception available from pharmacists without prescriptions and to require hospitals to offer it to rape victims. Following a final procedural vote in the Senate, expected next week, the bill will move to the desk of Governor Mitt Romney (R).
Although Romney indicated support for emergency contraception during his 2002 campaign, he has not taken a position on this legislation, prompting speculation that he is attempting to move right on choice issues in advance of a possible presidential campaign, reports the Associated Press. Nonetheless, the bill seems likely to become law for Massachusetts. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey (R) has expressed her support for the bill, and should it come up for approval during the Governor’s vacation would be able and willing to sign it into law, according to the MetroWest Daily News. Furthermore, the final version passed with the support of more than two-thirds of legislators, enough to override Romney’s possible veto.
A provision to allow individuals at religious hospitals to opt out of providing emergency contraception was removed from this final version. State Rep. Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham) said, “The geography of a sexual assault or a rape should not determine whether a woman has access to emergency contraception,” reports MetroWest Daily News.
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. . . .