North Carolina Passes Harsh Last Minute Anti-Abortion Amendment
On Wednesday morning, during the last minute discussion of an anti-Sharia bill, the North Carolina state Senate gave final approval to an amendment restricting abortion access in a vote of 29 to 12.
Tuesday evening, North Carolina state Senators covertly added an amendment that would severely limit women's access to abortion services to a bill originally intended to outlaw Islamic Sharia Law throughout the family court system. Committee discussion of this bill (HB 695) was scheduled for 10:00 am on July 2. However, that discussion was delayed without public notice until 5:30 pm that evening causing voiced outrage from those opposing the newly added, abortion-related amendment. Referring to the similarly duplicitous actions of Republicans in the Texas state legislature, Suzanne Buckley, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina remarked, "They're trying to pull a Texas."
The bill, named the "Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act of 2013" [PDF] was almost doubled in length by the added amendment with several provisions covering a wide breadth of abortion related services. The amendment will now require the following of all patients, doctors, and hospitals that perform or seek out abortion related services:
Institute "Conscious Protection" - The amendment allows for any health care provider to 'opt-out' of providing abortion-related services, including referrals.
Limitation of Abortion Funding - Health plans created under the new state insurance exchange as mandated by the Affordable Care Act will not include abortion coverage. In addition, any city or county health plan in North Carolina may not extend more abortion coverage than received by state employees.
Sex Selective Abortions - Abortions believed to be sought out on the basis of the sex of the fetus will be outlawed.
Transfer Agreements - All clinics offering abortion services must enter into "transfer agreements" with a local hospital, though they are not necessary in cases of emergency.
Licensing - A new licensing process, similar to that of outpatient surgical clinics, will be required of all clinics offering abortion services.
Mandate "Informed Consent" - Requires that all scheduled patients are provided the name of the doctor performing the abortion 24 hours prior to their appointment, potentially putting the doctor in danger (anti-choice extremists have scheduled "fake" appointments just to get information about clinic employees, including doctors).
There is only one clinic in North Carolina out of the state's 36 that currently meets all of the amendment's new requirements if the bill is signed into law by the governor. North Carolina Governor Pat McCroy (R) has not said whether or not he will veto the bill, but chided the Senate Republicans for their efforts to rush the bill through the legislative process.
Media Resources: HB 695; Huffington Post 7/3/2013; News Observer 7/2/2013; WRAL 7/2/2013
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. . . .