Yes, unfortunately, the attacks continue. Didn’t we think that we had won most of these battles long ago or were those simply skirmishes in the larger battle for gender equality? I guess we just have to keep battling. I’m sure that Margaret Sanger was forced to learn the same lesson when she had opened her first birth control clinic in 1916 in New York City.
The liberal journalist, Naomi Wolf, in a Guardian article, [Here] wrote that the legislative attacks in states all across the country have been well-coordinated and well-funded. Wolf also pointed out that Planned Parenthood appears to be the primary target of these assaults. Eight states--Maine, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, North Carolina, and Kansas--have actually passed laws defunding Planned Parenthood or have had bills introduced in their legislatures which will begin the process.
The other target is abortion rights. In the last year and a half, 92 new anti-abortions laws have been passed in eleven states. Some laws shrink the time that abortions are allowed and legal, while others make women wait a number of days, the so-called “thinking it over” period, after a woman first seeks medical advice and before she undergoes the medical procedure.
These latter laws are particularly irksome to me because they treat women with disdain and assume that a woman who wishes to abort her fetus has not already agonized over the decision. This is a glittering example of the male establishment’s assumption that women are ninnies and must be told what to do, what to think, and how to think.
We see this dynamic written large in the current open conflict between the Vatican’s all-male hierarchy and the Roman Church’s nuns. Five weeks ago we wrote about this in detail [Here] and reported then that the Catholic Church’s highest doctrinal group, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), had issued an eight-page report directed against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which accused them, among other things, of harboring “certain radical feminist themes.” The Leadership Conference represents a majority of working Roman Catholic nuns in this country, the women who do the hands-on, gritty and often irksome charitable work of their church.
Last week the LCWR met in Washington to address the charges and released this courageous statement: [Here]
Board members concluded that the [Vatican’s] assessment was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency. Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission. The report has furthermore caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization.
In addition, the LCWR is sending two of its members--the President and the Executive Director--to Rome to discuss the findings of the CDF and to raise objections with its conclusions.
Amy Davidson in the New Yorker quotes an interview with Sister Christine Schenk, an executive of a “church reform group.” [Here] Sister Schenk sums up the problem:
Here you see women, very competent, highly educated, doctorates in theology, masters in ministry, C.E.O.’s of hospitals, heads of school systems, being treated as if they were children... That in itself goes to the issue of where are the women in the decision-making structures in Rome.
Where indeed are the women? We should ask this same question of our Congress, our White House, and our courts. In fact, we must ask this question of every power structure in this country and throughout the world.
In the meanwhile, we shall watch and listen as two brave and devout women confront a centuries-old, male-only religious power structure in Rome. This will indeed be the epitome of speaking truth to power.
God speed, good Sisters...