Iraqi Women Face Reproductive Health Care Shortage During Crisis
The United Nations warned this week that due to the escalating crisis in the northern and western parts of the country, about 250,000 Iraqi women and girls - including almost 60,000 pregnant women - need urgent health care as soon as possible.
Recent violence in Iraq has displaced approximately one million people, overwhelming health facilities in parts of the country. The problem is especially acute for women in need of maternity care. The United National Assistance Mission for Iraq reports, for example, that the Erbil Maternity Hospital has had an influx of women seeking services and has had to discharge women from the hospital as little as three hours after delivery. Although the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) provided the hospital with reproductive health and delivery kits for emergency obstetric care, the kits only contain supplies for up to 1,200 deliveries, meaning that the supplies will run out in a few weeks.
UNFPA estimates that 1,000 pregnant women in Iraq will face life-threatening complications each month. The organization is calling for immediate action to help those in Iraq who are suffering as a result of the current crisis, including an estimated 20,000 women and girls who are at increased risk of sexual violence during this period.
Media Resources: UNFPA 6/30/14; Relief Web 6/24/14
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. . . .