Press Releases

Catholics for Choice Statement on Religious Freedom Day

Washington DC—Today on Religious Freedom Day, the Trump administration issued a proclamation once again pandering to the ultraconservative religious right and heralding religious exemptions that allow institutions to discriminate against individuals and deny people care. Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement:

Read the full press release here.

Letters & Op-Eds

On this Religious Freedom Day, remember that religion is not a license to discriminate

If an atheist and a Catholic walked into a bar, how do you think their conversation would go? It is safe to assume that after a few pints they would turn to issues that spark spirited disagreement. The existence of God in the Holy Eucharist as eternal truth or manmade fiction. The veneration of the Virgin Mary, the list goes on. Nevertheless, this atheist and Catholic do agree on one thing — the right to religious freedom.

Content originally appeared in The Hill.


Letters & Op-Eds

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 letter was originally published in The Irish Times.


Letters & Op-Eds

The bishops are right about free speech – this time

Regarding the Dec. 21 Metro article “Metro’s Christmas bus-ad ban is upheld,” about the Archdiocese of Washington’s failed court appeal to stop the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from blocking Christmas ads:

I found the bishops’ newfound defense of free speech fascinating, considering that 16 years ago the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops tried to censor our organization, Catholics for Choice, from running WMATA ads against the bishops’ ban on condoms.

This letter was originally published in The Washington Post.


Conscience Magazine

The Democratic Party and Abortion

Are political parties driven by values or votes? Indeed, if you have sound values, do you not enjoy popular support? This latest issue of Conscience examines the push and pull within the Democratic Party in the United States on whether a prochoice stance is an essential plank of the party or a political weight costing the party popular support. In the aftermath of the unprecedented election of 2016, some have found this the perfect opening to cast doubt on the party’s prochoice position. But how is it that, in 2017, women’s reproductive freedoms are still seen as negotiable?

CFC in the News

Podcast: Jon O’Brien with spiked: Why Catholics are Standing Up for Abortion Rights

Jon O’Brien speaks with Ella Whelan of spiked about why Catholics are standing up for abortion rights. Listen here. 

The full podcast episode can be found here. 

Letters & Op-Eds

Commentary: Helping immigrants should not mean denying them care

The immigrant community is deeply committed to the values that this country works to uphold — values that brought many of us to this nation. The idea of the United States as a beacon for those fleeing persecution is deeply held by many communities, including many of those who come to the United States seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

The original article, written by Karla Gonzales Garcia and Jon O’Brien, was published in the Austin American-Statesman. 

Press Releases

Catholics for Choice Hosts Religious Freedom Event at the Newseum

At a time when religious freedom debates are front and center in Washington, Catholics for Choice will host a major public event on the issue on October 16 at the Newseum.

Read the full press release here. 

Press Releases

Trump Administration Hands Win to Bishops at the Expense of Women’s Healthcare

Today the Trump Administration dealt a blow to women’s healthcare when they carved out sweeping exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control requirement. This decision allows any organization or corporation to deny birth control insurance coverage for religious objections or “moral reasons.” Despite public opinion being overwhelmingly in favor of contraceptive coverage, the Trump administration chose to hand a political win to Catholic bishops and religious ultraconservatives, once again throwing women under the bus.

Read Catholics for Choice’s full press release here.

Letters & Op-Eds

The Hill: Abortion access shouldn’t just be for the rich — every woman deserves the choice

Jon O’Brien

Tough choices. Most of us have had to make tough choices at some point in our lives. That moment when you look at your paycheck and count down the next week, two weeks, three weeks of bills that are due, wondering how you might stretch each dollar to make it through the month.

Read the full text in The Hill here.

Press Releases

Illinois Leads the Way for Women’s Abortion Access

“We commend Governor Rauner for trusting women and supporting equal access to abortion so that all women can be empowered to make their own moral decisions about their bodies in good conscience. We applaud him for listening to the majority of Catholics who support equal access to abortion and for not bending a knee to ultraconservative bishops who try to dictate public policy for everyone else.”

Read the full press release.

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.

Washington Post Express – Abortion in Good Faith ads

25 September 2017 – 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. Today, an ad appeared in the Washington Post’s The Express and our Catholics in Public Life members Elizabeth Hernandez and Kathy Ryg published an editorial in the Chicago Sun Times in support of House Bill 40 in Illinois, which would expand access to abortion in the state.

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?


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.


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.

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.

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.