Conscience Magazine

Fighting Fake News

In this era, where truth is purposefully and cynically muddied and our shared reality is called into question, the antichoice lobby’s spread of misinformation is even more dangerous. Perhaps the cruelest part of these propaganda campaigns is that they weaponize false narratives to blame women for not being “moral enough,” “committed enough” or “unselfish enough.” They are used to argue that women cannot be trusted to judge what is best for them. This latest issue curates a few examples of myth-peddling by the antichoice lobby to curb abortion access and to propagate stigma and shame on women and their right to choose, and offers some guidance as to how we might counter this “fake news” going forward.

Catholics for Choice – What’s New

Letters & Op-Eds

The arc of moral progress may be long, but Argentina’s women will prevail

Last week’s vote in Argentina’s Senate — which struck down the chance to legalize abortion — was a disappointment for millions of Argentinians and reproductive rights advocates around the world.

But it was also an outcome that is not easily explained away. As we saw in Chile, my native Ireland and Argentina, many Catholic majority countries are opening up about their faith, the ethics of choice and what it means to trust women like never before. Argentina’s unprecedented debate has emboldened a movement for women’s equality and dignity in the country, and the hemisphere, that is unstoppable.

This piece was originally published in The Hill.

In the News

Humanae Vitae and a Half-Century of Harm to Women Around the World

Next week, the Vatican will open the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland—just one month after the ominous anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the Vatican policy banning birth control. While the hierarchy “celebrates” 50 years of Humanae Vitae, a ban that has caused half a century of harm to the world’s poorest communities, and as we continue to see a wave of attacks against women’s reproductive rights at home and abroad, it is important to understand the role the doctrine has in shaping policy.

This article originally appeared on the Ms. Magazine Blog.

In the News

Fifty years on, and Catholics are still in turmoil over contraception

Launching a report, Humanae Vitae and the Damage Done, Jon O’Brien of the US-based Catholics for Choice said: “Many Catholics choose to ignore the Vatican’s ban on birth control, but the world’s poorest people do not have that luxury. For half a century, the Catholic hierarchy has blocked funding and access to contraception for family planning and HIV/Aids prevention, with deadly impacts for the most vulnerable globally.”

This article was originally published in The Guardian.

Press Releases

Global poll and report shows poorest communties are hurt by Vatican ban on birth control

Washington, DC – Today Catholics for Choice launched a new report and global poll—in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican’s ban on contraception on July 25—detailing half a century of hurt this policy has caused for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.

While Humanae Vitae, the Vatican’s ban on contraception, has shaped policy on birth control and HIV/AIDS prevention globally, many people are not aware of this policy, know its influence or the damage it has caused.

Read our full statement here.

Letters & Op-Eds

Faith and reproductive choice don’t have to be enemies

David Von Drehle, in his July 8 op-ed, “The Democrats’ abortion war in the Midwest,” set up a false polemic: To be pure is to be popular. When the Republican Party has handed over the keys to a reckless president who has little regard for human dignity, the lesson for Democrats should not be to become moral cowards. Voters want moral clarity and clear positions. And you can respect the faithful while respecting choice.

Read the full text in of this piece in The Washington Post.

In the News

With Brett Kavanaugh’s Nomination, Trump Again Privileges Conservative Christians

Jon O’Brien, the president of the abortion-rights group Catholics for Choice, said that Trump has chosen a nominee who was “hand-selected” by the religious right and by “ultraconservative Catholics” like Leo.

“From day one, President Trump has rewarded ultraconservative Catholic special interests for helping him win the election at the expense of the vast majority of the faithful who believe in social justice and a woman’s right to choose,” O’Brien wrote in an email. “Judge Kavanaugh, and his Federalist Society backers, may have power, money and the ear of the President, but their ultraconservative views do not represent the majority of ordinary Catholics.”

This article was originally published by Huffington Post.

In the News

Abortion could be illegal in large parts of US within 18 months after Supreme Court justice resignation, say activists

Cynthia Romero, communications director of Catholics For Choice, a Washington DC-based pro-choice group, told The Independent some states were making it “almost impossible to get an abortion”. She said six or seven states had just a single clinic that provided abortions, making it incredibly difficult for women without means. “There are plenty of places where women are having a really difficult time.”

This article was originally published by The Independent.

Press Releases

It’s morally bankrupt to deceive poor women – NIFLA v. Becerra ruling

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5 to 4 vote striking down California’s law requiring health centers to provide comprehensive healthcare information to their patients. Catholics for Choice’s Domestic Program Director, Glenn Northern, issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed with today’s ruling. At the heart of our Catholic faith is the belief that every individual is endowed with the inherent dignity to make their own moral decisions and not be coerced into a predetermined path.”

Read our full statement here.

Letters & Op-Eds

Women need compassionate, comprehensive health care — not lies

As health-care providers who work day in and day out with women, we are deeply worried about the unregulated growth of fake health centers that seek to actively deceive women facing unplanned pregnancies.

These so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” often advertise free pregnancy testing and pregnancy-options education. But once a woman steps into the facility she is presented with factually inaccurate and misleading information, often by untrained staff pretending to be medical personnel, to dissuade her from pursuing an abortion.

Read the full text of this piece in The Hill.

Letters & Op-Eds

The bishops want more control over your health care?

As the Trump administration continues to attack women’s reproductive rights, an important, but little understood trend is already reshaping health care options for women. Catholic-run or -affiliated health care institutions are taking up a growing share of the U.S. health care sector.

Why should this matter? Although Catholic facilities are in some ways comparable to their secular counterparts, there is one major exception. They are governed by a set of 72 Directives set by popes, bishops and Vatican councils that restrict women’s reproductive care and other services. And this week, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) annual Spring General Assembly seems primed to discuss how to tighten implementation of these Directives.

This article was originally published in the Sun Sentinel.

In the News

Argentina’s lower house of Congress approves abortion bill

“As Ireland, and Chile before it, have demonstrated, Catholics can be and often are pro-choice,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “And indeed Catholic-majority countries can and often do support legislation for safe and legal abortion. Catholics revere individual conscience and support policies that allow all women — especially those without power and privilege — to make their own moral decisions about their bodies safely and freely.”

Read the full text of this article in The Financial Times.

In the News

Argentina congress takes historic step towards legalising abortion

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said: “We congratulate the Argentinian chamber of deputies and the Argentinian people for taking a historic first step towards justice for women. For too long, Argentina’s strict abortion law has unfairly punished women, especially poor women.

“As Ireland, and Chile before it, have demonstrated, Catholics can be and often are pro-choice. And indeed Catholic-majority countries can and often do support legislation for safe and legal abortion. Catholics revere individual conscience and support policies that allow all women – especially those without power and privilege – to make their own moral decisions about their bodies safely and freely.”

This article was originally published by The Guardian.

Press Releases

Argentina’s First Step Towards Justice for Women

Washington, DC – Last night, the Argentinian chamber of deputies voted to liberalize their abortion laws. Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said:

“We congratulate the Argentinian chamber of deputies and the Argentinian people for taking a historic first step towards justice for women.  For too long, Argentina’s strict abortion law has unfairly punished women, especially poor women.”

Read our full statement here.

In the News

A Big Win in Ireland

This past January I became a DC Abortion Fund case manager. I did this because I feel passionately about the right to choose, and being able to exercise this choice in your own community. These values overlap with my day job at Catholics for Choice where we advocate for a person’s moral and legal right to abortion access globally.

On May 25, Ireland took a historic step and overwhelmingly voted to repeal the 8th Amendment, which equated the life of a pregnant person with that of an embryo or fetus and criminalized abortion except if continuing a pregnancy would result in certain death.

This article was originally published by The DC Abortion Fund.

Press Releases

We will stand with all Janes until they have moral agency over their lives.

Today the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out a lower court ruling that allowed a young migrant detained by officials in Texas to seek an abortion, declaring it moot since the young woman already had an abortion. Catholics for Choice director of communications Cynthia Romero issued the following statement:

“While Jane Doe’s case may be moot, she is not alone in her ordeal—before Jane there was ‘Rosa’ who was denied housing by a Catholic-affiliated shelter because she sought an abortion after being raped on her journey to the United States. Religious archconservatives in President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services have routinely interfered with other ‘Janes’ who seek emergency contraception or abortions.”

Read our full statement here.

Press Releases

Apoyamos a todas las inmigrantes como Jane hasta que se les garantice la autonomía moral sobre sus vidas

Hoy, la Corte Suprema de EEUU descartó la decisión de un tribunal inferior que le permitió a una joven inmigrante, detenida por oficiales en Texas, de proceder con un aborto, declarando el caso sin resolución dado a que ya la joven ha procedido con el aborto. La directora de comunicaciones de Catholics for Choice, Cynthia Romero, emitió la siguiente declaración:

“Jane Doe no está sola en su experiencia terrible: antes de Jane, fue ‘Rosa’ a la que le negaron asistencia de vivienda en un refugio Católico porque quería proceder con un aborto  después de ser violada cruzando la frontera a los Estados Unidos. Los oficiales conservadores religiosos de la administración del Presidente Trump en el  Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos han interferido constantemente para negarle servicios de anticonceptivos de emergencia o abortos a otras inmigrantes como Jane.”

Lea nuestra declaración aquí.

In the News

Jon O’Brien appears on Canal de la Ciudad

Jon O’Brien appears on Canal de la Ciudad to discuss being Catholic and prochoice, and the #AbortoLegalYa movement in Argentina.

Watch the full interview here.

Letters & Op-Eds

Catholic Ireland says, ‘Yes, we trust women’

Today I could not be prouder of my home country of Ireland and its momentous vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution banning abortion. This is a historic step for the rights and dignity of Irish women. And a historic step for Catholic Ireland.

Read the full text of this piece in The Boston Globe.

Press Releases

Catholic Ireland votes yes to abortion

The citizens of Ireland voted to Repeal the 8th Amendment and loosen the country’s draconian abortion law. Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice and Dublin native, said:

“The yes vote to repeal the 8th was a historic step for Ireland and women’s rights and dignity. As a Dubliner from Drimnagh, I came of age in an Ireland where the heavy hand of the Catholic hierarchy kept women from taking control over their bodies and their lives. This victory shows the Irish nation is at peace with its Catholic identity and its prochoice position.”

Read our full statement here. 

Conscience Magazine

Look Back in Anger: The Birth Control Ban at 50

In the midst of renewed fervor around Vatican II reforms, clergy and lay people alike were shocked when in 1968 Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae, reaffirming the Catholic hierarchy’s ban on contraception. What began as a theological debate, Humanae Vitae has gone on to shape policy decisions for over half a century on issues ranging from birth control to HIV/AIDS relief—decisions that impact everyday people at home and abroad. Its most damning legacy has been on the world’s most vulnerable. In the poorest communities where Catholic relief groups may be the only game in town, women can find themselves unable to access the birth control. And global progress on HIV/AIDs has been stunted by persistent rates of infection among young women in southern Africa—begging the question, how can we in good conscience continue to leave women and girls underserved and unprotected? This latest issue takes an in-depth look at 50 years of Humanae Vitae and the damage done.

2018 National Survey of Catholics in the United States

Belden Russonello Strategists commissioned a national survey of Catholics in the United States for Catholics for Choice in 2018. The polling data relates to the Vatican’s ban on birth control, Humanae Vitae, and it’s public perception.

View the polling data here.

Catholics for Choice