By Seltzer and Soguel
Saturday, September 29, 2007
A federal judge in Missouri suspended regulations that make it more difficult for clinics and doctors who perform more than five abortions a month to operate. The rules--dubbed TRAP laws by opponents--require extensive upgrades to facilities that provide surgical or medical abortion services and govern everything from hallway width to landscaping. Doctor's offices that only prescribe the abortion pill RU-486 are also required to conform and provide surgical suites even when surgeries are not performed. Similar regulations are in place in 28 states and typically receive little public attention, Stateline.org reported Sept. 24. Future rulings in the Missouri case could have national implications.
The European Court of Human Rights upheld court-ordered compensation for a Polish woman who went blind after she was denied a legal abortion, the Irish Times reported Sept. 25. Poland bans nearly all abortion but does allow them if a woman's health is at risk. Doctors who warned Alicia Tysiac that carrying her pregnancy to term would damage her eyesight nonetheless refused to authorize the procedure.
Latin American and Caribbean advocacy groups are rallying behind a regional campaign to decriminalize abortion, which celebrates its 17th anniversary on Sept. 28. Venezuela and Mexico organized civil disobedience marches, while groups in other countries called for legislative reform. The region has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, according to Human Rights Watch. Up to 31 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, and botched procedures account for 13 percent of maternal deaths, according to the Latin American Health and Woman Center in Mexico.
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Myanmar's military regime has cracked down on peaceful protesters and tightened security around the house of opposition leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi in Rangoon. Suu Kyi heads the National League of Democracy, which won elections in 1990. The Myanmar regime has prevented the party from taking power and Suu Kyi from assuming the office of prime minister.
Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, is one of 12 women to win the prize and the only laureate--male or female--currently imprisoned. On Sept. 27, the BBC reported that she greeted marching monks in front of her house and prayed with them, her first public appearance in four years.
The Nobel Women's Initiative--started by six female peace laureates to prevent violence by promoting women's rights--issued a special appeal for Suu Kyi's release from house arrest. The initiative urges the United Nations to enable reconciliation and democracy in Myanmar.
"Our sister laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and so many other women and men have risked their safety to return to the streets day after day, year after year, to demand the most basic rights and freedoms," reads a statement on the initiative's Web site. "For 17 years now Suu Kyi has paid the price, imprisoned in her home, while the regime pads its pockets and brutalizes its people."
Nudity is being tested as a new campaign strategy in Poland. Candidates of the Seven Women's Party posed naked on their campaign poster for the Oct. 21 parliamentary election, causing a stir. Their slogan? "Everything for the future . . . and nothing to hide." The party was founded by writer Manuela Gretkowska because the Polish government is considering tightening controls on abortion, the Telegraph reported Sept. 26.
Sarah Seltzer is a New York-based freelance writer and the editorial intern at Women's eNews. Dominique Soguel is Women's eNews Arabic site editor.
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