The US Senate voted yesterday against preserving around $4.5 million in food stamp, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), funding. The amendment to preserve the funding, part of a large farm bill, needed 60 votes to pass but was voted down in a 33 to 66 vote. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) offered the amendment to prevent cuts in food aid by reducing the guaranteed profit for crop insurance companies and lowering the payments they receive. The cuts to SNAP aid will target the "Heat and Eat" initiative, in which families who are receiving even $1 of utility assistance are eligible for SNAP benefits.
Senator Gillibrand urged the Senate to pass the amendment, saying "half of the food stamp beneficiaries are children, 17 percent are seniors, and unfortunately now 1.5 million households are veterans that are receiving food stamps." She continued, "We all here in this chamber take the ability to feed our children for granted. That is not the case for too many families in America."
According to the Los Angeles Times, 1 in 7 Americans now receive SNAP benefits. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cuts will result in families seeing a cut of $90 a month, or approximately a quarter of a family's food budget.
Media Resources: LA Times 6/20/12; Huffington Post 6/19/12; Politico 6/19/12
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. . . .