Australian Parliament Moves to Make RU-486 Available
An effective ban on RU-486 in Australia ended this week when the Australian House of Representatives passed a bill to remove Health Minister Tony Abbot's veto over the drug. The vote concurs with an earlier Senate decision. Decisions regarding mifepristone will now rest with the country’s main drug regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which is expected to make the drug available in Australia within the year.
Lawmakers voted independent of their parties in a rare “conscience vote,” spurred by a cross-party coalition of women MPs in support of RU-486. Only 27 conscience votes have been held in Australian history – the last was held four years ago.
The debate over RU-486 was deeply divisive, pitting Prime Minister John Howard, who favored RU-486’s distribution, against his chosen successor, Treasurer Peter Costello. 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 and said "Medical 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."
Media Resources: Feminist Daily News 2/10/06; Bloomberg 2/15/06; New Zealand Herald 2/16/06
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. . . .