Catholics for Choice – What’s New

CFC 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.

CFC 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.

CFC 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.

CFC in the Blogs

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.

CFC 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. 

CFC in the News

How Catholic people find faith in Ireland’s pro-choice movement

“I grew up in a country that didn’t respect women and I think that this is a chance for Ireland to show that it does respect and trust women,” says Jon O’Brien, an Irish Catholic who is the president of Catholics for Choice, an American-based advocacy group. Catholics for Choice has campaigned for the use of contraceptives and access to legal abortion services in countries around the world but have faced criticism for their views. “I really think that the teachings of the hierarchy are not just outdated but also dangerous for the welfare of citizens,” says O’Brien, who draws a distinction between what the bishops preach and his faith. “It is the golden rule of Catholicism that you should follow your conscience even if it brings you into conflict with the hierarchy of the church.”

This article was originally published by Dazed and Confused Magazine.

CFC in the News

Catholic voters, evangelicals or bishops: Who’s leading the anti-abortion movement today?

The Catholics for Choice (CFC) advocacy group presents itself as a counterbalance to the Vatican and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on matters concerning sexuality and reproductive health. CFC makes the case for abortion access within the context of Catholic faith.

CFC vice president Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe said the formal hierarchy thinks of itself as the sole arbiter on moral decisions for its community but that the faith’s teachings on conscience mean individuals must be free to follow their own and allow others to do the same.

This article was originally published by Yahoo News.

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.

Letters & Op-Eds

Abortion in El Salvador

As a Catholic committed to social justice and women’s autonomy, I am brokenhearted to see time and again the Catholic hierarchy playing politics with women’s lives. In El Salvador, a potent power punch of religious conservatives, business interests, and political and social elites continue to uphold this cruel law, which has hurt and killed so many poor women and girls.

Catholics revere the primacy of individual conscience, including the sacred right of each and every individual to make her own ethical decisions over her body. From Chile to Ireland, citizens in traditionally Catholic countries have been given the chance to debate the morality of draconian abortion laws that punish women, especially poor women.

This letter was originally published in The New York Times.

Letters & Op-Eds

Some religious folks in America see religious freedom as privileging only one set beliefs

The religious right lobby sees religious freedom not as tolerance for all, but about privileging one set beliefs over all others. This could not be clearer than in their latest attempt to introduce the First Amendment Defense Act in the U.S. Senate, which brazenly prioritizes the protection of religious beliefs regarding sex and same-sex marriages over all other religious beliefs.

We must eschew this exclusionary vision of religious freedom. That is why we have joined up with interfaith and secular allies to create the Coalition for Liberty and Justice. Together we seek to tell the stories that are not being heard of Americans who get hurt when we privilege one set of beliefs over all others.

Read the full text of this piece in The Hill.

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.


Catholics For Choice