Conservative lawmakers in Ohio reintroduced a bill to ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy by a transvaginal ultrasound, last week.
The bill, dubbed the "heartbeat bill," passed the Ohio state House in 2011, but was not brought before the state Senate for a vote in 2012. Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) told reporters that he wanted to focus on jobs and the economy instead of abortion. Niehaus has retired this year due to term limits, and conservative lawmakers believe that this a prime opportunity to resurrect the bill. State Representative Lynn Wachtmann (R) told reporters, "I wouldn't introduce a bill if I didn't think it could be done."
Similar bills in North Dakota and Arkansas have been blocked by federal judges pending legal challenges. In March, the Arkansas state legislature overrode the governor's veto of a bill that bans abortion once a heartbeat can be detected using an abdominal ultrasound, typically at 12 weeks gestation. That same month, the North Dakota governor signed a bill into law that outlaws abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically at six weeks gestation if a transvaginal ultrasound is used.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told reporters, "Here we go again. A month after Gov. Kasich signed one of the worst anti-choice bills in the nation that is already closing abortion facilities, you've got this group coming back and saying, 'No, no, no, that's not good enough. You have to outlaw abortion before women even know they're pregnant.'"
Media Resources: CityBeat 8/15/2013; Huffington Post 8/15/2013; Feminist Newswire 7/23/2013, 5/21/2013, 11/29/2012, 3/26/2012, 3/7/2013
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. . . .