Press Releases 2006

From Rhetoric to Reason: Ending the Abortion Wars

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Catholics for a Free Choice Launches National Campaign Aimed at
Preventing, Not Prohibiting, Abortions

Washington, DC– While abortion remains a divisive political issue, polls show that most Americans support legal abortion. Many also want to see the abortion rate reduced through preventing the need for abortion, not prohibiting it entirely. Prochoice groups have long led the efforts at prevention through contraception. A new Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) public education campaign makes those prevention efforts a centerpiece of prochoice advocacy.

Prevention Not Prohibition aims to reframe the abortion debate by focusing on building a national consensus to prevent, not prohibit, abortion.

CFFC is running the attached ads in media outlets in South Dakota, where residents will vote to either discard or uphold a ban on all abortions except those deemed necessary to save women’s lives. The ads will also run in heavily Catholic Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington state, and nationally in Roll Call and the National Catholic Reporter. In 2007, a further $200,000 will be dedicated to public interest advertising.

While prochoice groups have stressed the right to choose abortion, many Americans are tired of the polarization between the two camps and are seeking ways to reduce the need for abortion. The emphasis on prevention by CFFC mirrors the real desires of women and couples who are facing tough choices about whether to start or expand their families.  The main concern of policymakers must be the health and well-being of these constituents, and they should implement health care and child care policies that offer real choices to people considering whether or not to have abortions.

In publicly outlining “How to end the abortion wars” and stating “Nobody wants to need an abortion, Catholics for a Free Choice seeks to articulate the views of the majority of Americans who do not want to see abortion needlessly and heartlessly criminalized, but want to see it taken seriously.

Recognizing that abortion is morally complex frees individuals and policymakers from polarizing rhetoric and clears the way for practical policies that protect women’s freedom and moral agency while aiming to lower abortion rates.

Preventing unwanted pregnancies is not simply a question of personal responsibility, as some antichoice groups argue, but a matter of national priority.  In aiming for a world where nobody needs an abortion, the ads identify a number of opportunities for advocacy and legislation:

  • Ensuring the availability and promoting the use of safe, reliable and affordable birth control
  • Securing health care for all, whether they are employed or not
  • Guaranteeing that parents have easy access to child care

Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, says, “Abortion is morally complex, but that shouldn’t scare us.  Encountering moral complexity is part of being human. Truly respecting life requires us to recognize women’s moral agency and their personal goals. No woman sets out to become pregnant so she can have an abortion. Our campaign recognizes that and calls on government, social service agencies and individuals to work diligently to see that fewer women face the choices imposed by unsupportable pregnancies.”

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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.