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U.S. News Archive
September 13 - September 19, 1999





This page contains news for the period Monday, September 13, 1999 through Sunday, September 19, 1999.



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Thursday, September 16, 1999

New report finds more working-age women lack health insurance, with higher rates of uninsurance for unmarried women

A story released today by U.S. Newswire says that health care coverage for working women has declined in recent years, with more women left uninsured that a few years ago.

The new report, "Health Care Access and Coverage for Women: Changing Times, Changing Issues," contained findings from a study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund Commission on Women's Health. The report is based on the Fund's 1993 and 1998 surveys of women's health and other national data.

Declines in coverage for those ages 18 to 64 (84 million women) have been dramatic; in fact, uninsurance rates rose from 14 percent in 1993 to 18 percent in 1998. The problem is particularly widespread and persistent among women who are younger and unmarried, or have low incomes and are less educated than others.

According to the report, seven of 10 uninsured women work full time or have a husband with a full-time job. In the five-year span from 1993 to 1998, the percentage of women covered by private insurance fell from 77 percent to 72 percent.

The report found that women ages 25 to 34 are least likely to have health insurance. Unmarried women are also at a disadvantage: they are nearly twice as likely as married women to be uninsured or to become uninsured when changing jobs. In addition, about one of three single women lose their health insurance coverage when they stop working, twice the rate for married women or married men.

Connecticut agency to mediate complaints of discriminatory fee for use of town swimming pool

According to an Associated Press story published today in the Boston Globe, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities will mediate a complaint that a West Hartford's pool fee policy discriminates against nontraditional families.

Five families, including gay couples and an unmarried couple and their children, filed complaints in 1998 over the pool policy, which does not give a family discount to unmarried or same-sex couples.

The complaining families had to pay $375 per person, while the rate for an entire married-couple family was $325.

The Commission issued a "reasonable cause" finding on September 10. That means the state found enough evidence to suggest that the fee schedule may be illegal.

If mediation is not successful, the state could hold a public hearing. But lawyers say the case may not go that far.

''We're hopeful that West Hartford will be willing to settle this case now and change their policies,'' the lawyer for the unmarried families said.


Wednesday, September 15, 1999

Catholic Church won't apologize to abused Quebec orphans

According to a Reuters wire story published today by CNN, the Catholic Church In Quebec refused to give an apology or compensation to the aging orphans who claim to have suffered years of abuse decades ago while under the care of the church.

In a period from the 1930s to the 1950s, the church declared the children mentally ill as a way to get additional funding from the Canadian government, which paid more for the care of mentally handicapped children than for orphans. Many of the children were born to unmarried parents who abandoned them on the steps of Church-run orphanages out of fear of being ostracized by the highly religious society of Quebec of the time.

The orphans, numbering more than 3,000, have said many of them were abused, sodomized and forced to provide sexual favours as children.

Pierre Morissette, president of the Quebec Assembly of Archbishops, said the matter was delicate because of legal considerations. But he acknowledged that some orphans went through "difficult situations." He said that a full apology would not be forthcoming.

"Such excuses would betray the works of those who dedicated all their lives to the service of the most destitute," Morissette said at a news conference.

The orphans were outraged by the announcement. "This is total hypocrisy. This is a campaign of disinformation. It is horrible and contemptuous," said Bruno Roy, spokesman for the orphans.

Pennsylvania Catholic bishops urge: Live apart until wed

According to a story published today in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Pennsylvania's 10 Roman Catholic bishops issued a paper saying that couples cohabitating now should separate immediately.

Couples who do not comply, however, won't be denied the sacrament of marriage if they otherwise meet church criteria, said Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop of Philadelphia.

The action by Pennsylvania's bishops stems from a report on Marriage Preparation and Cohabiting Couples issued last week by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Just 25 years ago, only 11 percent of unmarried couples nationwide lived together. U.S. Census statistics show a 45 percent increase in cohabitation from 1970 to 1990.

The archdioce of Philadelphia does not keep precise statistics on the subject, but anecdotal experience there indicates that Philadelphia mirrors the rest of the nation, with about 50 percent of Roman Catholic engaged couples living together, archdiocese spokeswoman Cathy Rossi said.

Those couples are now urged to separate and live chastely until marriage "for the good of their relationship," Cardinal Bevilacqua said.

Judges in Ontario, Canada get domestic partner benefits

According to a story published today in the Toronto Sun, provincial court judges in Ontario will now receive benefits for their unmarried partners just as such benefits are given to spouses of judges. The plan was approved Aug. 18 by Management Board chairman Chris Hodgson.

The new benefit and salary schedules for Ontario's 260 provincial court judges, which boost their pay to $170,000 a year from about $130,000, guarantee spousal benefit coverage for judges who live with an unmarried partner.

"In this part, spouse means: Either of two persons of the opposite sex, or the same sex, who live in a conjugal relationship outside marriage," states the cabinet order, bearing Hodgson's signature.


Tuesday, September 14, 1999

California & Michigan win money for drop in single-parent birth rate

The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that California had the largest decline of all states in the rate of births to single parents. Michigan had the next largest decline of all the states.

These two states will share $100 in federal awards with the District of Columbia, Alabama, and Massachusetts, all of which were in the top five jurisdictions to reduce unmarried births.

The number of California children born to unmarried mothers dropped by 5.7 percent from the 1994-95 period to 1996 and 1997. The state's rate of unmarried births, which was near the national average at the beginning of the period, fell considerably below the national rate in the later years. California officials credit an increased access to birth control and "changing social mores'' for making single parenthood less acceptable.

According to the latest federal figures, unwed birth rates have not gone down in most of the country. In total, just 12 states reduced unwed births in the period measured. But in the rest of the nation, the ranks of unmarried parents swelled, sometimes substantially. In North Dakota, for instance, births to unwed mothers increased by 10 percent.

Nationally, about 1 in 3 babies is born to a single woman, a figure that has remained rather stable since it peaked in 1994. In 1985, by contrast, 22 percent of the nation's births were to unmarried parents.

The five jurisdictions that topped the list each will get $20 million prizes, which can be used for any purpose allowed under the broad federal definition of welfare. States could use the funds for family-planning or abstinence programs, child-care initiatives or any program designed to assist welfare recipients in finding, securing or holding jobs.

The article fails to mention the fact that, on a national average, the unmarried birthrate for the U.S. did not change. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 32.4% of all births are to unmarried mothers.

Click here to see the statistic on births to unmarried parents for 1994-1997

Miss America loosens rules to allow divorced women to contend

According to an Associated Press story that ran in today's Detroit News, the Miss America Pageant has lifted its ban on women who are divorced or have had an abortion.

The board of the Miss America Organization voted to make the changes because they feared the old rules may have violated New Jersey's discrimination laws. The pageant is held in Atlantic City.

Under the old rules, contestants had to swear they have never been married and never been pregnant. The new rules would require that contestants sign a document saying "I am unmarried" and "I am not pregnant and I am not the natural or adoptive parent of any child." The change opens the door to divorced women and women who have had abortions.

Teenage marriages may cause cervical cancer to women

According to a news story published in the Dawn Internet today, the national custom of Pakistani women marrying when they are teenagers may be causing a high rate of cervical cancer when the women are older.

The story is based on the results of a one-year study done by Dr Asma Tanvir Usmani, an Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Rawalpindi Medical College, and a visiting consultant to the Holy Family Hospital.

The study revealed that 50 percent of women patients with the cervix cancer were married before the age of 20 years. According to Dr. Usmani, an appropriate age for the girls to get married is 20 years and above.

She said there was a need to make the people aware of the effect of early marriages on human lives.


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