Australia Moves Closer to Allowing Mifepristone Access
The Australian Senate passed a measure this week that will increase women’s access to mifepristone. The bill takes the regulation of mifepristone (also known as RU-486) away from the Minister of Health, giving regulatory power to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, a non-elected government agency. While under the oversight of the Minister of Health, currently abortion-opponent Tony Abbott, the drug was effectively banned.
The Australian Medical Association recommended allowing mifepristone prescriptions, and placing decisions about the drug in the hands of the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Senator Lyn Allison, leader of the Australian Democrats party, said, "It is galling listening to the men, and it is mostly men, who have such contempt for women who terminate unwanted pregnancies,” reports Reuters. In the course of debate, Allison challenged that attitude by telling parliament about her own experience, saying “an estimated one in three women have had an abortion and I am one of those.”
Feminist Majority Foundation Medical Director Beth Jordan, MD, testified before Community Affairs Committee of the Australian Senate in support of the legalization of mifepristone in Australia. “Decades of research and long-term surveillance data worldwide on mifepristone document that it is an effective medication that has been safely used by millions of women,” said Dr. Jordan. “Medication abortion should be made widely and easily available to the women and men of Australia for safe, effective and early abortion as well as for compassionate use purposes for patients with health-threatening conditions.”
The House of Representatives has not yet voted on the measure, though it is expected to vote next week, and the measure is considered likely to pass, reports AFP.
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. . . .