A group of US Catholic nuns will embark on a multi-state bus tour starting next Monday, following a week in which the Catholic Church hierarchy received public attention for reprimanding nuns for focusing on issues of poverty, was forced to defend its fight against birth control, and has been embattled with state legislatures over sex abuse scandals. The Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness tour will visit nine states between June 18 and July 20 to speak out against the House budget proposed by Paul Ryan (R-WI) because of the budget's massive cuts for many social services.
On their website, the nuns wrote, "As Catholic Sisters, we are missioned to stand with people in need and to be witnesses for economic justice." They continued, "We cannot stand by silently when the U.S. Congress considers further enriching the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families."
The bus tour is especially notable because the Bishops recently called the nuns "radical feminists" for focusing too much on issues of poverty and social justice and not speaking out enough against homosexuality and abortion. On Tuesday, two leaders of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious met with Vatican officials and the Seattle archbishop to discuss the accusations. A petition signed by over 57,000 people condemning the inquiry was delivered to the Bishops and protestors rallied outside the Roman Catholic Bishops' annual meeting, held yesterday.
The Bishops have been trying to manage other scandals as well this week. During yesterday's meeting, the Bishops devoted a large portion of the time to defending their "religious freedom" campaigns, criticized as partisan efforts, which were launched in opposition to the Obama Administration's rule that all employers' insurance plans cover birth control. The hierarchy has also launched attacks in state legislatures against proposals to loosen statutes of limitations that dictate deadlines for victims to report sexual abuse. The Bishops are already fighting sex abuse scandals in court, as a groundbreaking trial against the Bishops concluded earlier this month in Philadelphia.
Media Resources: New York Times 6/14/12, 6/13/12, 6/5/12; The Diane Rehm Show 6/14/12; AP 6/13/12; Los Angeles Times 6/13/12; NunsontheBus.org
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. . . .