On Thursday, a panel of eight male members of the House of Representatives met to discuss a nationwide ban of abortion after 20 weeks gestation.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice began consideration of the DC Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Thursday. The bill, sponsored by Trent Franks (R-AZ), who is also the chair of the subcommittee, originally would have banned abortion at 20 weeks gestation only in the District of Columbia. However, Franks decided to expand the bill nationwide following the murder conviction of Kermit Gosnell, a rogue doctor who performed illegal abortions in Pennsylvania. Franks has introduced the bill in previous sessions of Congress, but it was defeated.
Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement, "It is no small irony that Rep. Franks is using the subcommittee on the Constitution to advance legislation attacking the firmly established constitutional rights of women. Everywhere that similarly unconstitutional laws have been challenged in the courts — including Rep. Franks's home state of Arizona just this week — they have been blocked before they could jeopardize women's health and lives."
In a scene familiar to women's rights activists, the entire panel considering the bill was made up of men. Laura Basset, a frequent writer for the Huffington Posttweeted at the hearing "Well this looks familiar: every lawmaker at the House hearing on the nationwide 20-week abortion ban is a man." The scene is reminiscent of last year's debate on contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act, when the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform did not have any witnesses from the Democrats and only consulted male witnesses. In response, Sandra Fluke testified as part of a House Democratic Steering Committee hearing led by Nancy Pelosi.
Media Resources: Politico 5/24/2013; MSNBC 5/23/2013; Feminist Newswire 5/20/2013, 2/24/2012
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. . . .