The Catholic diocese in Spokane, Washington will become the third in the nation to file for bankruptcy in the face of lawsuits brought by people who were sexually abused by priests. Spokane Bishop William Skylstad plans to file for bankruptcy protection by November 29, which will stall 19 lawsuits brought by 58 plaintiffs, according to the Associated Press . Skylstad is expected to succeed Bishop Wilton Gregory as president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on Monday, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
“The tragedy behind the bankruptcy filing is that at the last minute – three weeks from trial – Spokane files and delays those victims’ right to the courthouse,” said attorney Mike Pfau, who is representing two dozen men who were allegedly abused by Spokane priest Patrick O’Donnell, according to the Post-Intelligencer. Some 125 people have claimed they were sexually abused by priests in the Spokane diocese.
Spokane follows the dioceses in Portland, Oregon and Tucson, Arizona in filing for bankruptcy. “The common denominator in these bankruptcies is that they are filed when the bishop is on the verge of a potentially embarrassing court case packed with potentially damaging documents that could be made public,” David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) told USA Today. “This is not about being fair. This is about protecting their secrets and assets.”
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. . . .