Americans United for Separation of Church and State has come out against President Bush’s initiative to direct more federal funds to “faith-based” social service programs that would rally “armies of compassion,” and his plan to establish a White House Office of Faith-Based Action that will remove roadblocks religiously affiliated groups face when receiving federal money. Americans United challenges the constitutionality of Bush’s initiative and Rev. Barry Lynn, head of Americans United said, “The Constitution created a separation between religion and government. The very existence of a federal office whose principal purpose is to give tax dollars to religious groups is in an irreparable conflict with the First Amendment.”
In addition to being unconstitutional, the proposal opens the doors for employment discrimination based on religious preference or non-belief—a private religious group could receive federal funds, but could require all employees to follow the same religion as the organization. The foundation of Bush’s proposal is “charitable choice,” an idea initiated by former Sen. John Ashcroft in 1996.
Media Resources: Americans United for Separation of Church and State press release – January 25, 2001; Washington Post – January 26, 2001
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. . . .