Fetal Homicide Bill Passes Florida Legislature, Moves to Governor's Desk
The Florida Senate voted 25-14 last week to pass a bill making it a separate crime to kill or harm a fetus while committing a crime against a pregnant woman.
Under current Florida law, a person can already be charged with manslaughter or murder if he or she kills a viable fetus. But this new bill, HB 59, expands the penalties to include causing injury or death to a fetus at any stage of development, starting with conception.
States have used fetal homicide laws, like the one is Florida, to criminalize pregnant women or poor pregnancy outcomes. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has asserted that since 2005, there have been more than 200 arrests of women based on arguments that purport to treat fetuses separate from pregnant women. Consider Bei Bei Shuai, who in 2012 was charged with fetal murder after Shuai, who was 33 weeks pregnant, attempted suicide. More recently, Alicia Beltran was arrested after after she sought early prenatal care and told health care workers about her prior use of painkillers and her attempts to stop using on her own. Instead of receiving support, a court ordered Beltran to be detained at an inpatient drug treatment program two hours from her home. Despite her loss of liberty, Beltran did not have an attorney at her initial court appearance; but her fetus did.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is expected to sign HB 59.
Media Resources: Florida House of Representatives; RH Reality Check 4/24/14; Associated Press 4/23/14; Feminist Newswire 10/4/13, 4/11/14
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. . . .