Pope John Paul last week apologized to those who were victims of sexual abuse and rape committed by clergy members, including priests. The Pope specifically made reference to the sexual abuse of nuns in developing nations. The apology was one paragraph in a 120-page document posted on the Internet regarding a synod of bishops from Oceania held in 1998.
In March 2001, the National Catholic Reporter exposed the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy throughout the world, citing cases of abuse and rape in 22 countries and the United States. In at least one case, the sexual abuse led to death, as one nun, at the urging of the priest who raped her, died after a botched abortion. In response to the article, the Vatican formed a working group to study the problem. An American coalition of over 140 religious, human rights, and women’s rights organizations, including the Feminist Majority Foundation, immediately called for an independent fact-finding mission and launched demonstrations in New York and Washington, DC. The Call to Accountability Campaign, led by Catholics for a Free Choice, also highlighted the connection between sexual abuse and the spread of AIDS among nuns. According to reports, sexual abuse is particularly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, where priests believe sexual intercourse with nuns is safer because nuns are presumed to be free of the HIV/AIDS virus. In one diocese alone, nine nuns who had been raped by clergy died of AIDS.
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. . . .