Letters & Op-Eds

Abortion ban: There’s nothing sweet about Alabama

Alabama’s HB 314 is an immoral, extremist action by anti-abortion zealot’s hell bent on taking America backwards and is a slap in the face to core American values of freedom and liberty. Having failed time and time again to persuade the majority of Americans to embrace their anti-freedom agenda, abortion opponents are using the legislative process to put safe medical care out of reach.

The grotesque irony is that the 25 men who voted for this despicable measure will never have to face the realities of unsafe abortion. Insulated by privilege and power, the rich can circumvent any restriction with their pocket books — it is the poor who suffer when choice is denied.

Of course, these legislators freely admit that their extremist bill is just a play to trigger a Supreme Court battle over Roe v Wade. Drunk on the reckless rhetoric of a president beholden to them, these anti-abortion fundamentalists are spoiling for a fight. They want to play their political game and if that means sacrificing the health, safety and freedom of women and girls in Alabama, so be it.

It is a dark day for freedom in America.

Click here to read the rest. 

Conscience Magazine

Future Church

In church pews across the United States and around the world, we look furtively around as yet another priest tells us, as he has countless times, how sorry he is for the appalling mess the Catholic hierarchy has gotten us into. Abuse scandals and related cover-ups are just the tip of a very large iceberg. Sadly, for many Catholics, that scandal is one of many as we have watched the dereliction of leadership and the sin of clericalism strike blow after blow to the battered body of the church. In this issue of Conscience, we look beyond this discouraging state of affairs to ask what a future church should look like. We begin to map out a route that will get us there, finding hope in the shantytowns of South Africa — where a real church leader shares his vision of a church built on service to the poor — and in interviews with strong role models for women’s leadership in the future church.

In the News

Kirsten Gillibrand Claims Anti-Abortion Laws Are Not Christian

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is arguing that recent Republicans attempts to curtail abortion access around the country actually contradict key tenets of Christianity.

The presidential candidate’s comments at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday challenged the moral monopoly that conservative religious voices have long claimed to have on the abortion debate. Gillibrand, who identifies as Catholic, said that laws restricting abortion are “against Christian faith,” according to CBS.

Gillibrand’s reference to “free will” as a central tenet of Christianity is reflected in Catholic teachings that emphasize the importance of an individual’s conscience in making moral decisions.

Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, vice president of the reproductive rights group Catholics for Choice, said Catholic teaching is “crystal clear on the reverence for individual conscience as the first and final arbiter for any moral decision.”

This piece was originally published at The Huffington Post. 

In the News

LGBTQ Equality Act passes House, pushing back on Trump’s religious freedom policies

Growing tensions over the Trump administration’s policies that aim to strengthen religious freedom protections for health care workers have led to a partisan tug-of-war playing out in the House.

The Trump administration has tried to strengthen religious liberty protections through numerous policies over the past several months. Those include providing federal funds to religiously affiliated foster agencies who don’t allow LGBT people to adopt children and broadening religious and moral exemptions for employers who do not want to cover birth control.

This piece was originally published at Roll Call. 

In the News

‘Fetal heartbeat’ laws divide America as fears grow that Roe v. Wade could be challenged in the Supreme Court

The year 2019 saw women’s rights take quite the beating across the US.

Besides Alabama’s Republican-controlled state senate passing what is undoubtedly the most restrictive abortion law in the US earlier this week, four other states — Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio — have passed bills making abortions illegal after a certain timeframe.

These bills have been widely termed as “fetal heartbeat” bills and make abortions illegal as soon as the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected. The legislation is based on the conclusion that a human heartbeat is an indicator of a living person.

Unsurprisingly, they have proven to be as divisive as they are contentious, even amongst the religious, where one would expect unequivocal support to any legislation which upholds so-called sanctity of life.

The legislation has already been slammed by Catholics for Choice, a pro-choice dissenting Catholic advocacy group who state their mission is to “serve as a voice for Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health.”

This article was originally published by MEA Worldwide. 

In the News

25 men voted to ban abortion in Alabama. Do they reflect the rest of America?

On Tuesday, 25 white male Republicans in Alabama voted to ban abortion in the state at every stage of pregnancy, unless the mother’s physical or mental health is in jeopardy. Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill Wednesday, putting in place one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws.

A dozen states in 2019 have either passed or attempted to pass stricter abortion legislation. With the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists and conservative lawmakers are betting the bans will lead to lawsuits that could push the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade, which recognizes a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.

But polling shows the recent abortion bans are out of line with the beliefs of most Americans.

This article was originally published by USA Today. 

Press Releases

Trump Administration Again Puts Special Interests Above Public Good

Washington, DC— Yesterday, the Trump administration issued a final regulation under the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights regarding interpretation and enforcement of the federal conscience protections.  Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement in response:

“With this rule, the Trump administration tips the scales of justice in favor of those who wish to impose their religious beliefs on others rather than truly protect conscience rights.  Time and again, this administration has bent over backwards to accommodate an influential minority that wants the right to refuse care and access to services based on one narrow set of beliefs.

Catholics for Choice represents the vast majority of Catholics in the United States in rejecting those who distort the true meaning of religious freedom as a cynical pretext to impose their beliefs on others. As Catholics, we revere individual conscience and therefore support policies that respect one’s choice without violating another’s conscience—whether doctor or patient.

As we wrote in our public comment when this rule was proposed, ‘The personal beliefs of any provider should never impede the care the patient is able to receive or the services the beneficiary may access. This view is shared by the seven in 10 Catholics in the United States who believe that companies and other institutions should not be allowed to use religious beliefs as a reason to deny services to employees, customers or patients.’

This rule helps only those interested in ending access to abortion, contraception and other services to which they object. When this administration chooses to protect its powerful political allies—namely the Catholic bishops and other religious ultraconservatives—it is the most vulnerable in our communities who suffer first and worst: women and men of low-income, rural residents and people of color. It is these neighbors who lose when further obstacles and impositions block their access to critical healthcare services at the whim of an administration seeking to protect its political interests.”


In the News

Politico: Illinois Playbook

CHICAGO – Catholics for Choice opposes any city plan to subsidize Presence Health downtown headquarters given the hospital rejects abortion and contraception. In a letter to aldermen and obtained by POLITICO, Catholics for Choice says Catholic bishops are allowing women “to be treated as second-class citizens in facilities supported by public dollars.”

This piece was originally published by Politico.

Letters & Op-Eds

Cuomo followed his conscience on the Reproductive Health Act

The article “Bishop sees shift in youths,” Jan. 18, provides an important opportunity to remind readers that the bishops of New York do not speak for all the more than 7 million Catholics across the Empire State. Like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, those faithful, everyday Catholics understand the sacred duty of each individual to listen to their conscience and our duty to protect others’ right to do the same. The governor’s support of the Reproductive Health Act is an act for the common good, and he does so in good conscience.

Catholics for Choice lifts up the voices of the millions of faithful Catholics around the globe. We know Catholics do not want their representatives blindly following the church hierarchy’s opinion on public policy in place of their own. As a statesman who is also Catholic, Cuomo faithfully follows his conscience in upholding the rights of New York’s women to follow their consciences regarding pregnancy and abortion. He is, after all, the governor of all of New York, not a marionette of the bishops.

This article was originally published at the Albany Times-Union.

Letters & Op-Eds

We want our leaders to speak with moral clarity on abortion

When President Trump was elected, many women realized that something that seemed a far prospect could become reality — that Roe V. Wade could be overturned. In the face of this threat, we have also seen something inspiring. State legislators across the country — from Oregon to Illinois to New York — have passed a wave of progressive laws to protect access to abortion and safeguard a woman’s autonomy to make her own moral choices over deeply consequential, deeply complex decisions around when and whether to continue a pregnancy.

This piece was originally published by The Hill. 

Letters & Op-Eds

Re: The War of Words on Abortion

Re “The War of Words on Abortion” (Op-Ed, Jan. 10):

Charles C. Camosy is wrong in throwing up a smokescreen to pretend that the abortion debate is a struggle over language.

Pro-choice victories in Ireland, Chile and likely soon in Argentina clearly demonstrate that increasingly, on a global scale, people in Catholic-majority countries are taking a stand for the values, morals and ethics of defending a woman’s right to choose.

Those who favor women’s rights are not running away from fundamental principles like conscience; they are embracing the reality that women’s rights are human rights. They understand the challenges to women’s health and well-being when we deny their right to make free choices over their bodies.

This letter was originally published in the New York Times. 

In the News

91 Percent of Irish Catholics Disagree With Contraceptives Ban on 50th Anniversary

As the Roman Catholic Church marked the 50th anniversary of the major Humanae Vitae encyclical, which prohibited the use of condoms and contraceptives, a worldwide survey from a Catholic pro-choice group found that large majorities of Catholics disagree with the ban.

Catholics for Choice revealed last week statistics from a survey it carried out on people who identify as Catholic, asking them whether they agree or disagree with Pope Paul VI’s document that said using such birth control methods is morally wrong.

This piece was originally published by the Christian Post. 

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.

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