What We're Reading -- June 13
Good morning everyone! Last night, was a big primary night as Planned Parenthood Action Fund-endorsed candidates won their respective races in the Arizona 8th District special election and in the Nevada State Senate District 1 primary. Meanwhile in North Dakota, voters decisively struck down the so-called “Religious Liberties Restoration Amendment” which could have had dangerous consequences for access to health care, including birth control.
Here’s what we’re reading this morning….
The fight for access for affordable birth control continues to be waged nationally. “Religious leaders ask for broader birth control exemption” — “A coalition of nearly 150 religious leaders, led by conservative Protestants, have petitioned the Obama administration to broaden the exemption that allows churches and some religious organizations to avoid a controversial new mandate that all health care insurers provide free contraception coverage. In a letter sent Monday (June 11) to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the 149 religious leaders note that they hold differing views on ‘the moral acceptability’ of birth control and on the viability of various administration proposals to allow faith-based groups to bypass the mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage. But they said they share a strong objection to the language that defines which ‘religious’ groups are eligible for an exemption, saying the definition creates a ‘two-class system’ of religious groups: churches, which qualify under the wording of the exemption, and ‘faith-based service organizations,’ which may or may not qualify…. A dozen Catholic groups and individuals — mainly conservative colleges and activists — signed the letter but no Catholic bishops joined in.”
The Catholic bishops are willing to isolate even their most dedicated supporters. “The Vatican vs. the Rebel Nuns: A Summit in the Holy See” — “For the Vatican, the rebel nuns present a delicate challenge. In the U.S., many nuns find themselves politically on the opposite side of the church hierarchy, for instance during the health care debate, when they lent support to President Obama’s policies. Though nuns don’t have a formal position within the Vatican’s ranks — unlike, say, priests, they are considered laypeople — they are nonetheless an important part of the church’s public and popular face. And since their orders are nearly always self-funded, the Vatican has little traction, outside of theological condemnation, in reining them in. At issue is not only the role that nuns should play within the greater dialogue of the Catholic faith, but what direction the church itself should be headed, with Pope Benedict XVI one of the primary advocates of rolling back reforms in favor of a return toward traditional Catholicism. ‘The critique of the LCWR is a microcosm of a larger phenomenon in the church, specifically over how deeply the Second Vatican Council represented a break with the past,’ says James Martin, a Jesuit priest and contributing editor at America, a Catholic magazine.”
A sea of pink swarmed the Michigan state house to protest a sweeping omnibus abortion bill. “Planned Parenthood protests abortion bills at Michigan Capitol” — “LANSING, MI — In a Michigan Legislature where nearly two-thirds of the lawmakers are endorsed by Right to Life, opponents of a sweeping package of bills aimed at restricting and regulating abortions worked to make their presence known Tuesday. Demonstrators connected with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and other groups rallied at the Capitol and some of them ringed the building’s rotunda. The pink-attired crowd clapped and shouted ’this is our house’ while waiting for House lawmakers to settle in for an afternoon session. At least twice, demonstrators were removed from the House balcony after shouting about provisions in the bill down toward the House floor. The recently introduced bills are expected to be voted on this week, but they were not voted on Tuesday. Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, said the opponents' ’voice was not heard’ when a House committee advanced the bills last week. Critics say lawmakers are rushing to approve the bills without enough debate. Estimates of the crowd size varied, starting at roughly a couple of hundred people in the early afternoon. Planned Parenthood said nearly 500 people participated.”