Irish Government Announces Change in Abortion Laws
On Tuesday, the Irish government announced that it will draft new legislation to clarify the country's restrictive abortion ban. The news comes after international pressure and two on-going inquiries following the death of Savita Halappanavar after she was denied an abortion while miscarrying.
In a statement released by the Irish health department, the government affirmed that it will draft legislation that "should provide the clarity and certainty in relation to the process of deciding when a termination of pregnancy is permissible, that is where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as opposed to the health, of the woman and this risk can only be averted by the termination of her pregnancy." Health Minister Dr. James Reilly spoke with reporters on the government's decision to draft new legislation. "I know that most people have personal views on this matter," he said. "However, the Government is committed to ensuring that the safety of pregnant women in Ireland is maintained and strengthened. We must fulfill our duty of care towards them."
Though there is little talk of expanding exceptions to the ban, this move on behalf of the Irish government seemed impossible to many pro-choice activists. James Burke, a member of the Termination for Medical Reasons Ireland campaign, told the LA Times, "We can see our government will be taking this issue seriously. It's definitely a step forward." He continued that in light of Halappanavar's death many people are becoming aware of what issues there are with vague legislation. "We hope it opens the door to more discussion in the future," he said.
Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she arrived at University Hospital Galway complaining of severe back pain. Hospital staff determined she was miscarrying, however doctors refused to remove the pregnancy until three days later. After the pregnancy was removed, Savita was transferred to intensive care where she died three days later of what was determined to be septicaemia (similar to blood poisoning).
Media Resources: An Roinn Sláinte Health Department Press Release 12/18/12; LA Times 12/18/12; Feminist Newswire 11/14/12
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. . . .