Judiciary Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on DC Abortion Restrictions
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution is holding a hearing today on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in Washington, DC. The bill's sponsor, Republican Trent Franks (AZ-2), chairs the subcommittee. His home state, Arizona, enacted new abortion restrictions in April that prohibit abortion after 20 weeks, though the law essentially bans abortions after 18 weeks because gestational age of the fetus will be calculated based on the last menstrual period of the woman.
Outrageously, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton's (D-DC) request to testify at the hearing was denied. Congresswoman Norton is the District of Columbia's only elected representative and is not allowed to vote on the House floor because Washington, DC, is not a state. Denial of her testimony breaks Congressional tradition that allows members of Congress to testify on bills that affect their constituents. She told the Huffington Post yesterday that "Certainly, if the bill covers one district, you would expect the representative who can express the views of the constituents in that district would be heard."
The Congresswoman will speak at a press conference prior to the Congressional hearing with DC Mayor Vincent Grey and George Washington University Professor Christy Zink, who had an abortion after 20 weeks due to malformation of the fetus and will testify at the hearing.
In a statement released after her request to testify was formally denied, Congresswoman Norton said, "We will vigorously fight the bullying tactics of the Republican majority against the District's women, and in standing up for ourselves, we recognize that we are also in the larger fight to protect the reproductive rights of women everywhere." She also described the District of Columbia as an easy target for anti-abortion bills in Congress. "Why wouldn't they put this bill in for the entire country if they feel so deeply about it? The reason is that they're bullies, so they know that you pick on the district whose member cannot vote on the House floor, you pick on the member who does not have any Senators to protect her, and maybe you can get somewhere," she said.
Media Resources: Eleanor Holmes Norton Statement 3/15/2012; Huffington Post 5/16/2012; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/13/2012
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. . . .