Rape victims in Mexico face hostile officials who actively prevent women from accessing legal abortion services, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). The report, “The Second Assault: Obstructing Access to Legal Abortion after Rape in Mexico,” details the aggressive ways in which state agencies discourage and delay women’s abortions. Abortion is criminalized in Mexico except in cases of rape, but many women are not aware of the laws and are lied to about what they must do to access an abortion, according to HRW. Some women are threatened, others are told they can only have an abortion if they arrange for a coffin and hearse for the fetus, and others face interminable delays. As a result of the heavy-handed intimidation tactics, many women risk their lives and health by turning to back-alley abortions. "Pregnant rape victims are essentially assaulted twice," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "First by the perpetrators who raped them, and then by officials who ignore them, insult them and deny them a legal abortion."
Furthermore, rapes are believed to be widely underreported. While, according to HRW, the government figure is 120,000 rapes per year, HRW estimates that there may be nearly 1 million rapes in Mexico each year. Mexican law offers insufficient protections for victims of rape and incest, as marital rape was tolerated until recently, and incest is understood as “consensual,” resulting in equal punishments for both parties. Nonconsensual incest is supposed to be prosecuted as rape, but HRW found evidence that prosecutors frequently do not do so, even when victims are obviously underage (the age of consent in most of Mexico is 12). The combination of lax sexual assault laws and government pressure not to abort amounts to a human rights violation, said Roth, adding, "The Mexican government needs to ensure that rape victims do not have to endure dangerous back-alley abortions or imposed pregnancies."
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .