Following in the steps of South Dakota, the Louisiana State Senate is considering a near-total ban on abortions in the state, which would allow abortions only to save the life of a pregnant woman. The bill does not include exceptions for a woman’s health, or cases of rape or incest. Senator Ben Nevers (D), sponsor of the bill, told the Associated Press that he sympathizes with rape and incest victims, but “abortion is just another crime.” The bill does not punish women directly, but would fine anyone who performs an abortion between $10,000 and $100,000, a jail term of one to ten years, or a combination of a fine and jail time.
Yesterday, after two hours of testimony from doctors and women on both sides of the measure, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed the bill without objection after Nevers agreed the measure would only go into effect following an overturn of Roe v. Wade. Senator Lydia Jackson (D) called the bill "feel-good legislation," that would have little effect, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune, but she also told the Associated Press that it made clear “how little control women have over their lives” in Louisiana.
The bill now moves to the Senate floor, where many Senators have said they do not have a sense of what the likely outcome will be, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Pro-choice advocates have pledged to challenge the constitutionality of the law if it is passed.
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. . . .