Press Releases 2009

Catholics for Choice Statement on the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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On the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States, Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement.

“This anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a timely reminder of how important access to legal abortion has been in dramatically improving women’s health and lives and allowing women to participate more fully and equally in economic and social life. Since 1973, we have seen a decrease in maternal and infant mortality rates and seen more and more women pursuing opportunities in higher education and the workplace that would not previously have been possible. Many factors have influenced these trends, but we cannot ignore the importance of access to abortion care as a factor.

“This year, as in previous years, a group of antichoice activists will march through the streets of Washington DC to oppose women’s right to access abortion care. For the first time in several years, they will not receive a phone call from the sitting president thanking them for their efforts to curtail women’s rights. The reality is that these efforts have failed miserably. Despite the fact that there have been antichoice presidents in the White House for 20 of the past 28 years, they have made little progress in curtailing access to abortion. It is, as president after president has tacitly acknowledged, a losing political strategy. While seeming to talk the talk, antichoice presidents have routinely called it in, rather than wasting any political capital on a serious attempt to ban abortion. With the vast majority of voters supporting access to abortion, any attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade reveals how out of touch and unrealistic the marchers are. Theirs is a failed agenda.

“Overturning Roe v. Wade would be an irresponsible and dangerous decision. Denying women access to safe and legal reproductive health services is an extreme and irrational measure. It would force women to give birth or resort to the often unsafe and sometimes deadly options we witnessed when abortion was illegal and that we sadly sometimes still witness when abortion is difficult to obtain.

“Tellingly, when one of the leading members of the antichoice lobby, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, did a poll on the matter, they sought to hide the results by releasing them on December 30th when few journalists were paying attention to such matters. The results, which the bishops have failed to make available in full, show that a mere 11 percent of the nation’s adults support the bishops’ position: a complete ban on abortion. While many seek to impose conditions on access to abortion care–some reasonable, others not–barely a tenth of the population is completely opposed to all abortions. This figure is one of the lowest found in a large-scale poll in recent years, certain to seriously concern the antiabortion lobby as they gear up for several battles with the new administration.

“Among Catholics, we continue to see strong support for access to safe and legal abortion services, family planning, stem-cell research and policies that prevent the need for, rather than criminalize, abortion. The extreme stance of the US bishops and the antiabortion lobby as a whole is out of touch with Catholics and the general population alike.

“Americans want to focus on how we can prevent the need for abortion and want to work collaboratively to allow women make real choices when facing an unplanned or problem pregnancy. Catholics for Choice supports policies that offer a full range of reproductive health options, including family planning services and access to abortion care when necessary as well as full pre-and post-natal care and childcare support for women who choose to continue their pregnancies to term. We will work hard throughout the next administration and beyond in support of these principles.”

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Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women's well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives.