A judge has ordered the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph into arbitration to determine if the diocese violated a 2008 settlement with victims who were sexually abused by priests. In the 2008 settlement, 47 plaintiffs settled their claims with the diocese for $10 million and an agreement that the diocese would make 19 specific changes, including taking steps to meet state child abuse reporting requirements and implementing sexual misconduct policies. Last year, 42 of the plaintiffs demanded arbitration, alleging these requirements had not been met.
In a press release, Barbara Dorris, Saint Louis outreach director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) wrote, "We are grateful for this ruling. We're confident it will mean that dozens and dozens of KC area victims are a step closer toward healing and closure. We hope it will mean that Bishop Finn and other Catholic officials really will start implementing the 19 prevention steps they promised victims they'd take four years ago."
The 2008 settlement alleged abuse by two priests, Rev. Shawn Ratigan and Rev. Michael Tierney. Ratigan faces a trial this August on federal pornography charges and Tierney has been sued in civil court over the allegations of abuse.
Media Resources: SNAP Statement 6/13/15; Local Fox Affiliate 6/13/12; Kansas City Star 6/12/12
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. . . .