SD Abortion Ban Stayed; Referendum to Repeal Ban Qualifies
Activists in South Dakota have succeeded in gathering enough signatures to hold a referendum in November on the state's extreme abortion ban, South Dakota's secretary of state announced yesterday. Signed into law in March by Governor Mike Rounds (R), the ban has only an exception to save the life of a pregnant woman and does not provide exceptions in cases of incest or rape.
The success of the petition means the abortion ban will not go into effect on July 1 as previously scheduled but will be put on hold until the November referendum in order to give voters a chance to repeal the law. The South Dakota Campaign for Health Families, a coalition opposed to the ban, had to collect 16,728 verified signatures by June 19 – they filed a petition on May 30 with over 38,000 signatures.
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. . . .