Conscience Magazine

Separate and Unequal

Woman as mother, helper, caretaker. Is this the divine nature of all women? And their only vocation in their church, their families, their communities? Are women meant to be “separate but equal” (or rather unequal)—caretakers of a church that denies them a place within its leadership? At a time when women’s rights are at an inflection point globally, this newest issue of Conscience explores the Catholic theology of complementarity, the idea that women “complement” men as nature’s nurturers, and the conscribed vision of women as biologically distinct and suited to serve, but never to lead.

What Secularism Means to Africa: What it has been, what it hasn’t been and what it could mean for human rights

2017, 44 pp

For What Secularism Means to Africa, Catholics for Choice brought together a diverse group of scholars, professionals and activists from across Africa to engage the idea of secularism: to define it, to identify its history and to discuss its relevance to good governance and human rights across Africa.

Our report of the forum features four conference papers from colleagues addressing:

  • What is the relationship between secularism and colonialism in Africa?
  • What does secularism mean for African women’s rights?
  • What is the relationship between healthcare and religion in Africa?
  • What role might secularism play in the future for African governments?


Letters & Op-Eds

The Hill: Foes of birth control mandate deny Americans care

Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe and Marcela Howell

On May 4, President Trump stood in the Rose Garden with a select group of ultraconservative religious figures who have entered into a marriage of convenience with his administration to carve out religious exemptions in federal law so that they can discriminate against and deny people care.

Read the full text in The Hill here.

Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ploumen visits Catholics for Choice to discuss #SheDecides

Catholics for Choice President Jon O’Brien met with Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, women’s rights advocate, and fellow Catholic Lilianne Ploumen today at the Catholics for Choice office. During the meeting, opportunities for further cooperation regarding access to safe abortion, contraceptives, and other women’s health priorities were discussed, as well as Minister Ploumen’s initiative “She Decides.” The Minister also convened with the Catholics for Choice staff, who thanked her for standing with the majority of Catholics who are prochoice and for her commitment to promoting women’s moral agency.


She Decides” is an initiative Minister Ploumen helped launch in January 2017 in response to President Trump’s reinstatement and expansion of the “global gag rule,” which denies US foreign assistance to organizations in developing countries if they discuss abortion. To date, it has raised over €182 million euros toward providing contraceptives and safe abortion access in countries affected by the gag rule.


For more information, read our statement about the “She Decides” initiative.


Can faith and freedom co-exist? When faith-based health providers and women’s needs clash

2017, 14 pp.
Faith-based health providers are a major component of health services delivery in many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. They receive millions of dollars annually from unilateral and bilateral aid agencies to deliver care. At the same time, they often use conservative interpretations of religious teachings to deny access to essential health care, including reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS prevention services. How can we balance the presence of faith-based providers against the rights and needs of women and other vulnerable populations to receive the care they need?

Read the whole article from Jon O’Brien here, or check out Oxfam’s entire Gender and Development journal.


Conscience Clauses and Reproductive Rights in Europe—Who Decides?

This publication provides an overview of conscience clauses and reproductive rights in Europe, along with a progressive Catholic perspective on conscience, conscience clauses and the provision of reproductive healthcare services.



Press Releases

Over a dozen progressive Catholic organizations express disappointment over Bishop Paprocki’s decree

27 June 2017 – Over a dozen progressive Catholic organizations representing diversity within the Church signed a joint letter to Bishop Thomas Paprocki expressing disappointment over a decree he issued denying communion and funeral rites for same sex spouses. The groups—representing a broad coalition of feminist, LGBTQI and prochoice Catholic voices– called upon the bishop to unite fellow Catholics during a time of divisive rhetoric and polarization in our country.

Read the full letter and press release.

Catholic Bishops’ Agenda Hurts Families

21 June 2017 – Catholics for Choice was featured in an ad in the Washington Post Express highlighting how the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ campaign to misuse the concept of “religious freedom” hurts families by discriminating against people and denying them basic care. The ad comes on the heels of the USCCB’s fifth annual Fortnight for Freedom, launched today in Baltimore. CFC was also featured in an editorial in the Baltimore Sun.

Read Jon O’Brien’s op-ed in the Baltimore Sun and view the full-size advertisement in the Washington Post Express.

Press Releases

Warning: US Foreign Assistance Can Kill You

15 May 2017 – Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice issued a statement in response to the Trump administration’s directive to US agencies significantly expanding the Global Gag Rule on foreign assistance.

Read the statement here. 

Press Releases

Catastrophic, Callous and Cruel— GOP Bill Guts Social Justice

5 May 2017 – Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass a GOP bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act that guts coverage for millions of Americans, defunds Planned Parenthood and reverses Medicaid expansion.

Read the statement from Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice.

Press Releases

President Trump Takes Steps to Destroy the First Amendment

4 May 2017 – Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice issued a statement in response to the Trump administration’s release of an executive order to grant sweeping exemptions from federal regulations to religious individuals and organizations, including lifting restrictions that prevent tax-exempt houses of worship from engaging in partisan political activity.

Read more.

Press Releases

Catholics for Choice Condemns House Minority Leader Pelosi for Remarks on Abortion

3 May 2017 – Catholics for Choice issued a letter today to US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi condemning her remarks discarding the importance of prochoice principles to the Democratic Party.

Read Jon O’Brien’s statement here.

Conscience Magazine

The Road Ahead

Donald John Trump, 45th President of the United States of America. Regardless of whether you are Republican or Democrat, of whether you voted for or against him, the reality of the preceding statement is indisputable.  This issue of Conscience analyses what the Trump presidency is likely to mean for the world of reproductive rights—from foreign aid to healthcare—and what measures can be taken to ensure that women’s access to care is both safeguarded and expanded.


Press Releases

Religious Groups Announce Support for Planned Parenthood

26 April 2017 – Over 60 faith based organizations across the country signed a letter to Congress reaffirming their support for Planned Parenthood, which was featured in an ad that appeared today in The Washington Times and The Hill. The ad comes on the heels of renewed efforts by the far right to push for defunding Planned Parenthood as part of the federal spending bill that Congress must approve this week.

Read more.

Press Releases

On UNFPA Trump is Not Letting Facts Get in the Way of Political Pay Back

4 April 2017 –The Trump administration’s decision to deny funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will hurt millions of vulnerable women around the world.  The announcement of this decision on the same week as the 50th session of the Commission on Population and Development is a deliberate slap in the face of women as the UN considers the importance of family planning for sustainable development. Read more.

Press Releases

Catholic Leaders across the Nation Reaffirm Support for Planned Parenthood

29 March 2017 –Today, over 100 Catholic state leaders and legislators from 33 states joined together to reaffirm their support for Planned Parenthood in a two-page spread in Politico.  The House Freedom Caucus and other ultraconservatives in Congress are bent on using any legislation necessary to defund the organization, including possibly holding hostage the continuing resolution to keep the federal government open. Read more.

New Publication

Is Your Health Care Compromised?

Conscience2016-1-1_001 More than one in six hospital beds is Catholic-owned or –affiliated, and millions of people rely on Catholic healthcare each day in the U.S. Whether they are seeking routine or life-saving medical care, are their options more limited than would be offered at a secular facility? The newly released report, Is Your Health Care Compromised? from Catholics for Choice, answers that question.


ABC Radio – Sunday Nights with John Cleary

12 November 2016 – Catholics for Choice President Jon O’Brien recently toured New Zealand and Australia explaining the position of prochoice Catholicism as the keynote speaker at the Sexual and Reproductive Health conference in New Zealand, and the Family Planning conference in Australia.

Listen to his discussions with ABC Radio’s John Cleary, and Radio New Zealand’s Kim Hill.

The Secret History of Sex, Choice and Catholics

Want to understand how to be Catholic and prochoice? Watch this video to hear Catholic theologians tell you how.