CFC in the Blogs

Religious Freedom is not a License to Discriminate

On the heels of President Trump’s proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a controversial rule on January 19 that allows healthcare providers to deny care to patients for religious, moral or any other reasons. The department also created a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office of Civil Rights. These efforts are at the heart of a carefully crafted strategy by religious conservatives to radically redefine religious freedom and roll back progress on basic civil liberties— most notably a woman’s constitutional right to abortion and the rights of LGBT people.

Read the full text of this piece on The American Constitution Society Blog.

Letters & Op-Eds

Ireland’s Historic Chance to Trust Women

In a moment when women globally are reclaiming their voice and power, Ireland faces a historic chance to overturn a law that hurts so many women. On May 25, the Irish people will decide whether to repeal the 8th amendment, which equates the life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or fetus and criminalizes abortion except if continuing a pregnancy would result in certain death.

Read the full text of this piece in The Hill.

Catholics for Choice Submits Comments to the Department of Health and Human Services

On behalf of the majority of the more than 70 million Catholics in the United States, who as a matter of conscience, disagree with the Catholic hierarchy on issues related to reproductive health and rights, we submit this public comment to express our deep concern regarding the new regulation that the Department of Health & Human Services (“HHS” or “the Department”) has proposed, which expands the scope and reach of religious exemptions in HHS programs and activities under the auspices of the new Division of the Office of Civil Rights.

Catholics from across the United States  shared their views as part of the more than 200,000 comments submitted to oppose the Department’s new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.

Read the letter here.

Coalition for Liberty & Justice

Coalition for Liberty and Justice Releases New Video on Religious Refusals

Across America, religious freedom is being used as a guise to discriminate against people and deny them care. Now ultraconservative religious activists inside Trump’s health department are elevating one set of beliefs at the expense of care for millions of Americans. Our new video tells the story of three women—Debbie, Colleen and Dian—whose lives were changed by religious refusals and their struggle to reclaim religious freedom as tolerance for people of all walks of life. To watch the video and learn more about our Coalition for Liberty and Justice visit:

Letters & Op-Eds

Catholics for choice: South Carolina personhood bill impedes on a woman’s choice

Under the Trump administration, religious ultra-conservatives are pushing more than ever before to chip away at a women’s right to make her own decisions over her body—and they are expanding their fight in the states.

South Carolina legislators are considering a bill, the “Personhood Act,” which would effectively ban all abortions in the state and limit access to birth control and in-vitro fertilization.

Personhood laws fly in the face of Catholic values, preventing women from following their God-given consciences when making critical moral decisions about pregnancy and family planning.

Read the full text of this piece in The Hill.

Letters & Op-Eds

Religious Freedom

As a Catholic committed to religious freedom for all, I share your concern that religious ultraconservatives, including the Catholic hierarchy, are using religion as a license to discriminate.

As your editorial highlights, when religious freedom is misused to give power to one group of religious special interests, everyday Americans get hurt: a woman refused birth control by her employer; a same-sex couple denied the right to adopt; and countless others.

That is why 85 percent of American Catholics believe that individuals should not use religious beliefs to deny services to others who hold views they may disagree with. Religious freedom in America is about tolerance and unity in diversity, not about imposing one narrow set of religious beliefs on everyone else.

This letter was originally published in The New York Times.

Catholics have evolved in their thinking about abortion

Ireland is undertaking a historic debate on abortion and the Eighth Amendment. A prominent voice in this debate will be the Catholic hierarchy. Just last week the Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin argued that even in instances of rape the Catholic position would be to deny a woman her right to end the pregnancy. He also called for the voices of Catholics to be heard.

On that I agree with him – Catholics must be respected, and their views on the Eighth Amendment should be heard. Where we disagree is on what Catholics might have to say.

This op-ed was originally published in The Irish Times.

CFC in the News

Health And Holy Services?

Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe discusses the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the Dept of Health and Human Services on NPR’s A1 podcast.

Listen to the full 1A podcast here.

Conscience Magazine

African Insights

As the US Supreme Court weighs several First Amendment cases that fiercely challenge interpretations of religious freedom, it can seem that the question of how separate church and state should be is a uniquely American debate. But the concept of secularism has shaped political cultures around the world. In Africa, it has pre-colonial roots: many societies on the continent had forms of government that separated shrine from state, the political from the sacred. On the heels of Religious Freedom Day, this latest issue of Conscience presents distinct perspectives on the relationship between religion and politics on the continent and across the world.

Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Reader Abortion in Good Faith ads

As a continuation of Catholics for Choice’s Abortion in Good Faith campaign the following ads ran in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader. These ads coincide with Catholics for Choice’s effort to get Governor Rauner to sign HB 40 into law, which would revoke the ban on coverage for abortion under state Medicaid and the state employee insurance program. More broadly, the Abortion in Good Faith campaign aims to reinforce that Catholics believe in equal access to abortion, regardless of how much money one has.

For more information, read our press release, visit the Abortion in Good Faith website, or thank Governor Rauner for signing HB 40.

Press Releases

Catholics for Choice launches Second Phase of Abortion in Good Faith ad campaign

This week, Catholics for Choice released the second phase of its multi-year campaign Abortion in Good Faith that lifts up the voices of everyday Catholics nationwide who believe that all women deserve the right to equitable reproductive healthcare, including abortion access —no matter how much money they have, where they live or what they believe. Ads appeared in the Washington Post’s The Express, as well as in several papers across Illinois, including The Chicago Sun Times, The Chicago Reader, The Marion Republican, The Carbondale Times, Benton News, Du Quoin Call, Eldorado Journal and Harrisburg Register.

Read the press release.

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?


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.


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.