The Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) has charged the Bush Administration with secretly undermining the effort to fight HIV/AIDS by subjecting US AIDS funding to the Global Gag Rule. Organizations applying for grant funding would be required to agree to the "Mexico City Policy," as the Global Gag Rule is also known, according to revisions to eligibility criteria. According to CHANGE, the restrictions were included in a request for applications for HIV/AIDS work in Kenya, a move meant to attract little attention.
President Bush was forced to exempt US global AIDS funding from the Global Gag Rule in 2003 in the face of public protest, reports CHANGE. In March of that year, over 145 US organizations that work on public health, AIDS, and reproductive health, as well as over 300 parliamentarians, public health workers, and religious leaders sent a letter to Bush, stating that "...we oppose the Mexico City Policy in its current form, and we oppose any expansion of this policy to HIV/AIDS..." An Executive Order was announced in August that excluded US AIDS funds from the gag rule.
The gag rule currently in place bars family planning programs in countries that receive US federal aid from using separate, private monies for abortion counseling, services, and referrals. The Reagan Administration first imposed the Global Gag Rule in 1984. Though President Clinton rescinded the policy for the eight years of his presidency, President Bush issued an executive order to reinstate the Global Gag rule during his first official day in office in January 2001.
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. . . .