Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Jun. 24, 2019 (The Guardian): Appeal court overturns forced abortion ruling, by Harriet Sherwood:
An appeals court in the UK overturned a recent decision by the court of protection in London, which had ordered a young pregnant woman to have an abortion against her wishes.
The pregnant woman is in her twenties and suffers from learning and mood disorders, such that her mental capacity is akin to that of a "six to nine-year-old child."
There is no public information as to how the woman got pregnant and a police investigation is ongoing. In the meantime, the woman--now 22-weeks pregnant--and her mother both wish for the pregnancy to continue and her mother intends to care for the child once born. A social worker agrees that the pregnancy should be allowed to continue.
Three medical professionals, including one obstetrician and two psychiatrists, with England's National Health Service initiated the legal challenges when they sought permission from the court to terminate the pregnancy.
The court that ordered the termination originally stated that its decision was in the best interests of the woman. The woman's mother, a former midwife, appealed the decision. The appeals court is expected to provide their rationale at a later date.
Abortions may be performed up to 24 weeks in a pregnancy under Britain’s 1967 Abortion Act.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
June 21, 2019 (Rewire News): Here's What You Need to Know abut the Hyde Amendment and Efforts to End It, by Ally Boguhn:
As the Hyde Amendment re-emerges as a political issue, Rewire News provides a helpful information about the rider that is attached to federal appropriations each year that prevents the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion care. The article notes that similar restrictions have been applied to other forms of government health insurance including the Indian Health Services, Medicare, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and health care for people in the military, federal prisons, and the Peace Corp and federal government employees. Similar restrictions were also imposed on plans available on the Affordable Care Act's Health Exchanges.
Since the Amendment became law in the 1970s, some states have used their own funds to provide abortion coverage for individuals on Medicaid as a result of court decisions requiring coverage under their state constitutions or legislative action. In 2017, Illinois became the first state in decades to pass legislation authorizing the use of state Medicaid funds for abortion. And earlier this month, New York City allocated $250,000 to fund abortions for women who are not covered by Medicaid or insurance and cannot afford the procedure.
In recent years there has been new momentum at the federal level to eliminate the Hyde Amendment. In 2015, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, which would ensure that individuals who received health insurance through the federal government were covered for abortion care. In 2016, the Democratic Party included repeal of Hyde on its platform. However, House Democrats have not pushed the issue.
Despite their stated opposition to the Hyde amendment, House Democrats included it in their 2019 budget. In early June, Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jane Schakowsky (D-IL), and [Pramila] Jayapal introduced an amendment to strike Hyde and instead expand access to abortion coverage. Their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
The Hyde Amendment is poised to be a critical topic in the 2020 presidential election. Many contenders for the Democratic nomination have come out against the policy, and former Vice President Joe Biden recently twice switched his position on the matter (ultimately being against it). Meanwhile, President Trump supports codifying Hyde into law.
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Jun. 10, 2019 (Politico): Judge says Missouri’s lone abortion clinic must remain open for now, by Rachana Pradhan:
On Monday, a judge blocked Missouri's attempts to close its last remaining abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood, which operates the clinic, has struggled against state officials' attempts to shutter the clinic based on claims of violations, which jeopardize its licensing.
Judge Michael Stelzer had previously granted the Planned Parenthood clinic reprieve from the states' attempts to deny license renewal upon the clinic's license lapse in May, and Stelzer has now directed Missouri health officials to make a decision as to whether to renew the clinic's license by June 21.
Planned Parenthood officials attest that the licensing conditions were essentially pretextual and "accused state officials of orchestrating a politically motivated probe to stamp out abortion." Last month, Missouri lawmakers banned almost all abortions beyond week eight of a pregnancy.
Missouri is just one of six U.S. states that have only one clinic providing abortions.
June 13, 2019 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, In the Media, Politics, Pro-Choice Movement, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Jun. 11, 2019 (The New York Times): Botswana's High Court Decriminalizes Gay Sex, by Kimon de Greef:
A three-judge panel in the capital of Botswana voted unanimously to overturn a colonial-era law banning gay sex in the country.
"'Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalized,' Judge Michael Leburu said as he delivered the judgment, adding that laws that banned gay sex were 'discriminatory.'"
"Homosexuality has been illegal in Botswana since the late 1800s, when the territory, then known as Bechuanaland, was under British rule." The penal code outlawed “unnatural offenses,” defined as “carnal knowledge against the order of nature.” Violations of this law could result in seven years in prison; a five-year sentence could be imposed just for attempting to have gay sex or engage in any other "homosexual acts."
The court had the opportunity to strike down the law, because an anonymous gay plaintiff challenged the law's constitutionality. The court had previously upheld Botswana's discriminatory laws in the face of a prior 2003 challenge.
Last year, India similarly struck down its anti-gay statutory vestiges of colonialsm.
Unfortunately, other African countries like Kenya have decided the opposite way, upholding laws that criminalize sexuality.
Homophobia is widely entrenched on the continent, with gay sex outlawed in more than 30 countries. In several northern African nations, including Somalia and Sudan, homosexuality is punishable by death; offenders in Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda face life in prison.
Even in countries like South Africa with progressive gay rights legislation, the African continent continues to find "widespread rejection" of homosexuality.
Nonetheless, gay rights groups and LGBTQ activists in Botswana celebrate the historical moment this week that came with the High Court's decision.
Friday, June 7, 2019
Jun. 4, 2019 (Quartz): Canada will invest $1 billion globally in women's and girls' health every year, by Annabelle Timsit:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada's new commitment to invest over one billion dollars annually in women's and girls' health. The funding will in large part benefit sexual and reproductive health in the face of growing threats around the world to women's rights, including the right to abortion.
This funding is an increase from Canada's prior years' commitments and comes with increased focus on supporting "female entrepreneurs, indigenous women, and LGBTQ people."
Allocating funding, among other socio-political resources, to the protection of Indigenous women in particular is especially critical in light of the recent report of the Canadian national inquiry regarding mass killings and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls throughout Canada. (See The New York Times (Jun. 3, 2019), by Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky).
The three-year inquiry's final report labeled the systemic violence suffered by the Indigenous populations in Canada "a race-based genocide." It also included over 200 recommendations to implement systemic changes, like reforming police practices and the criminal justice system overall, as well as expansion of Indigenous women's shelters and empowering Indigenous persons to serve on civilian boards overseeing civil services. In addition, the report's authors call for the elevation of Indigenous languages to official languages of Canada, alongside English and French.
The inquiry, long overdue in the face of pervasive, violent colonialism, was prompted in 2014 when Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl from the Sagkeeng First Nation was found dead in the Manitoba Red River, wrapped in a plastic bag and weighed down with 25 pounds of rocks. The main suspect in her murder was acquitted.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Jun. 1, 2019 (Vox): Illinois affirms the "fundamental right" to abortion by passing a new bill, by Gabriela Resto-Montero:
Illinois, in a newly-passed bill called the Reproductive Health Act, states that a “fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights." The passing of this law thus grants pregnant people in Illinois the protected right to terminate their pregnancies. The Act was passed on Friday, May 31, 2019 and is expected to be signed by the governor.
State Senator Melinda Bush sponsored the bill and declared Illinois "a beacon for women's rights, for human rights." The legislation "repeals a 1975 state law that required spousal consent, waiting periods, placed restrictions on abortion facilities, and outlined procedures for pursuing criminal charges against abortion providers." It also "rolls back some state restrictions on late-term abortions by repealing Illinois’ Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act," a law that had not yet been enforced due to court injunctions.
While legislative threats to reproductive rights grow in numbers and severity throughout the country, Illinois is one of the first states to take concrete steps toward cementing the right to abortion--among other reproductive rights--within its borders. Other states (i.e. Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi) are vying for a slot on the SCOTUS docket and with it a chance at the overturning of Roe v. Wade and its Constitutional protections.
Recently, though, the Supreme Court signaled it is not quite ready to re-consider Roe. "In its decision regarding an abortion law passed by Illinois’ neighbor, Indiana, justices struck down one provision while affirming another part of the law, largely avoiding the question of whether abortion should be legal."
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are leading the way with lawsuits aimed at preventing the so-called "heartbeat laws," and comparable legislation threatening reproductive rights and the safety and dignity of pregnant persons, from going into effect within anti-abortion state legislatures. "The Planned Parenthood Action Fund reports that so far in 2019, there have been 300 anti-abortion bills introduced in 36 states."
Illinois is not the only state working to protect abortion rights, though. "Some 13 states including New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Nevada have proposed bills to include a right to abortion in their Constitutions. While many of those efforts are still in their early stages, Vermont passed a bill to include the protection in its Constitution last week."
June 4, 2019 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, Fetal Rights, Politics, Pro-Choice Movement, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0)