For the first time in South Dakota’s history, the state’s voters are sending a woman to Congress. Tuesday, pro-choice candidate Stephanie Herseth, a Democrat, won by a slim margin with 132,377 votes to 129,396 for her Republican opponent Larry Diedrich.

Endorsed by groups such as EMILY’s List, a political action committee that supports pro-choice, Democratic women, Herseth, 33, comes from a long line of South Dakota legislators. Her grandfather served as governor, her grandmother was secretary of state and her father served in the state legislature for 20 years. She is a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center.

“We congratulate Stephanie Herseth on her historic victory,” said Ellen R. Malcolm, president of EMILY’s List in a press release. “With the critical issues facing South Dakota and the nation, the voters have wisely chosen a representative with the talent, strength and experience to stand up to the special interests and get right to work creating jobs, expanding access to health care and improving education.”

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Women’s eNews–
“Five Women Sue Mass. Diocese for Priest’s Abuse”:


The Vatican announced a new, prestigious post to the Boston cleric who was forced to resign after a long series of sex abuse scandals involving Boston’s Catholic clergy.

Last week, Bernard F. Law, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, was chosen by Pope John Paul II to head a basilica in Rome. The job, as the archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, pays $12,000 a month and is under the direct jurisdiction of the Pope.

A Vatican official told the Times that “now he will be responsible for one of the four most important basilicas” in Rome.

Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of Cardinal Law Dec. 13, 2002, after nearly a year of investigations found that the cardinal (and archdiocesan officials that he supervised) had repeatedly allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to remain in the ministry.

In a July 2002 interview with Women’s eNews, David G. Clohessy, the national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a nonprofit support group based in Chicago, said that victims of abuse in the Catholic Church were not only men. Contrary to popular belief, half of the abuse survivors in his network are women. This week he chided church leaders in Rome for what he called insensitivity to abuse victims.

“Why can’t the Vatican officials see that any position of honor afforded to Law will inevitably and needlessly cause more pain to hundreds who have been abused and have already suffered enough?” Clohessy told The New York Times.

— Shaya Tayefe Mohajer.