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.

CFC in the News

Trump Administration’s Global Gag Rule Review ‘Ignoring the Evidence’ on Policy’s Danger

Catholics for Choice President Jon O’Brien was also concerned about potential replacements for trusted providers.

“This rule diminishes America’s moral leadership. It decimates local partners. And it rewards faith-based special interests at the expense of compassionate and comprehensive care for the most vulnerable people worldwide,” O’Brien said in a statement.

This article was originally published by Rewire.

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.

CFC in the News

Trump, who once called himself ‘pro-choice,’ steps to forefront of anti-abortion movement

On Thursday, the administration announced the creation of a new office to protect the religious rights of medical providers, including those who oppose abortion. Supporters of abortion rights say it adds up to a president doing administratively what he’s often failed to accomplish through Congress.

“Time and again, we have seen this administration radically redefine religious freedom to impose one set of ultraconservative beliefs on all Americans,” said Sarah Hutchinson Ratcliffe, vice president of Catholics for Choice.

This article was published in The Chicago Sun Times.


CFC in the News

Kansas archbishop to take lead role in Catholic fight against abortion

Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, vice president of Catholics for Choice, said the bishops’ vote for Naumann shows they are not reflecting the interests of everyday Catholics. It also shows they aren’t interested in following Pope Francis’ “directive to broaden the scope of these issues,” she said.

“They don’t represent what Catholic voters want, they don’t represent how Catholic voters feel about most issues,” she said. “The change in tone that the Pope has been trying to do over the course of the last three years, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is really lagging behind that.”

The article was originally published in The Wichita Eagle.


CFC in the News

Trump Carves Health-Care Discrimination Wing Into Civil Rights Office

“This decision—not so coincidentally timed around the March for Life—is a cheap attempt by President Trump to pander to ultraconservative special interests that got him into power,” Catholics for Choice Vice President Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe said in a statement. “Time and time again, we have seen this administration radically redefine religious freedom to impose one set of ultraconservative beliefs on all Americans.”

This article was originally published by Rewire.


CFC in the News

New HHS civil rights division charged with protecting health-care workers with moral objections

“I am disappointed that this ruling puts women last again. This decision — not so coincidentally timed around the March for Life — is a cheap attempt by President Trump to pander to ultraconservative special interests that got him into power. Time and time again, we have seen this administration radically redefine religious freedom to impose one set of ultraconservative beliefs on all Americans,”  Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, vice president of Catholics for Choice, said in a statement.

This article was originally published in the Washington Post.


Press Releases

Trump Administration Panders to Religious Right at Expense of Everyday Americans

Washington, DC—Today the Trump administration is opening a “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” within the HHS Office of Civil Rights to support healthcare providers with moral objections to abortion care and care for LGBT individuals. Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, Vice President of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement in response:


Read the full press release 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.

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.


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. 

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.

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.