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Gates: Women need birth control on global health agenda

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In an address with potentially far-reaching health care consequences, Melinda Gates today called upon governments to set as goals universal access to birth control for women who want it. She said the measure could save hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

A Catholic, Gates is a co-chair and trustee of the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, which distributes billions of dollars annually in the developing world to raise agricultural productivity, health care and education levels while it works to eradicate global diseases.

Ladies in White arrested before pope's Havana Mass

HAVANA -- A few hours before they planned to attend an outdoor Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, members of a Catholic dissident group were reportedly arrested by Cuban police.

Alejandrina Garcia de la Rivas and Laura Maria Labrada Pollan, members of the Ladies in White -- "Damas de Blanco" -- were arrested before 6 a.m. Wednesday, said Blanca Reyes, a member of the organization who now lives Madrid, Spain.

International Women's Day sees protests in the Philippines

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MANILA, Philippines -- A September report in Newsweek declared, "In Asia, the Philippines is the best place to be a woman" to numerous publications in the country as well as to online news and social media sites.

And yet on Thursday, International Women's Day, Manila's streets filled up with thousands of women marching and rallying in protest alongside members of partner activist groups.

Catholics doubt study that says no mental health-abortion link

MANCHESTER, England -- Catholic medical professionals have questioned the reliability of a British review concluding that women who have abortions have no increased risk of developing mental health problems.

The British government-funded "Systematic Review of Induced Abortion and Women's Mental Health" found that though an unwanted pregnancy may cause mental health problems, it made no difference to the mother's mental well-being if she continued with the pregnancy or had an abortion.

The review was carried out by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatry and published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in early December.

Dr. Roch Cantwell, a consultant perinatal psychiatrist who led the review, said the work showed "that abortion is not associated with an increase in mental health problems."

"Women who are carrying an unwanted pregnancy should be reassured that current evidence shows they are no more likely to experience mental health problems if they decide to have an abortion than if they decide to give birth," Cantwell said in a Dec. 9 statement.

HHS secretary says girls under 17 must consult doctors to get Plan B

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops' pro-life spokeswoman said she was relieved that the Obama administration has decided not to allow the Plan B One-Step "morning-after pill" to be sold without a prescription to those under 17.

"Luckily, things did not go from bad to even worse," Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications at the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, told Catholic News Service Dec. 8. "We're pleased that they did not expand access to this very powerful drug."

Catholics protest altar server policy

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ARLINGTON, VA. -- A few dozen people walked along North Glebe Road in front of the Arlington diocesan headquarters Nov. 20, holding bright signs that called for justice and change.

“Pray for our diocese,” read one sign, handwritten on fluorescent pink cardboard. “Dignity for our girls,” said another. And another: “We support female altar servers.” And another: “Bishop we need your leadership.”

Author finds out just how much is expected of 'biblical' women

Living like a biblical woman, as Christian author Rachel Held Evans discovered, can be a real pain in thy rump.

That's especially the case during a woman's "unclean" time of the month, when sitting on any surface renders it unclean, and why Evans carried around a stadium seat cushion on those days as she attempted to live out a year as a true "biblical" woman.

Franciscan ready to accept consequences for joining woman-led liturgy

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Despite rumors that Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada would be excommunicated and expelled from his order for his participation in a liturgy led by a female priest, Zawada and the leadership of his order say that has yet to be discussed.

Zawada participated in the Nov. 19 liturgy while attending the School of Americas Watch in Fort Benning, Ga.

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August 1-14, 2014

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