Letters & Op-Eds - 2008

The New York Times The Catholic Conscience

To the Editor: Re “Protests Over a Bush Rule to Protect Health Providers” (news article, Nov. 18), about the rule that prohibits anyone receiving federal funds from discriminating against providers who refuse to perform abortions for religious or moral reasons: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association may be behind […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Post What Influences Catholic Voters

The headline “Among Catholics, Political Rifts Over Abortion Have Grown” bore little relationship to the story, which concentrated mostly on how unimportant abortion was to the vast majority of Catholics deciding how to vote. The reality is that church teachings on moral decision-making and abortion are far more complex than is acknowledged. In Catholic theology […]

Jon O'Brien

The Guardian (United Kingdom) Catholic church and the right to choose

The Catholic church is exhorting Catholics to oppose parliamentary reform of abortion law (Catholics must mobilise against abortion reforms, says archbishop, September 30) despite support for pragmatic modernisation from medical and nursing bodies and patient groups. The legal requirement for two doctors’ signatures can delay women from abortion care. Reforms would permit abortion under the […]

Jon O'Brien Catholics for Choice, Ann Furedi British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Julie Bentley Family Planning Association, Simon Blake Brook, John Bercow MP Con, Buckingham, Dr Evan Harris MP Lib Dem, Oxford West and Abingdon, Emily Thornberry MP Lab, Islington South & Finsbury, Dr Wendy Savage Doctors for a Woman's Choice on Abortion, Marge Behrer Voice for Choice, Lisa Hallgarten Education for Choice, Louise Hutchins Abortion Rights

RH Reality Check President’s Committee on Bioethics Debates Provider, Patient Conscience

As the deadline for public comment on the new Department of Health and Human Services refusal clause regulations nears, the President’s Committee on Bioethics discussed how conscience relates to health care at its meeting last week.   The 34th meeting of the Bioethics Committee took place September 11-12 in the Hotel Palomar in Arlington, VA. […]

David J. Nolan

San Francisco Chronicle Pelosi views on abortion in synch with most Catholics

In its response to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s comments last month about abortion, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops missed the mark on political discourse in the United States. The conference not only commented on its interpretation of what Speaker Pelosi said, not what she actually said, but also chose to place itself […]

Jon O'Brien

The Hill - Congress Blog Individual Conscience In Moral Decision Matters At Core of Catholic Tradition

Earlier this week, in their response to vice presidential nominee Senator Joseph Biden’s recent comments about abortion, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops missed the mark on political discourse in the United States.   On “Meet the Press” last weekend, Senator Biden stated that it is “inappropriate in a pluralistic society” to impose his […]

Jon O'Brien

RH Reality Check HHS Refusal Clause Threatens Patient Conscience

The proposed regulation released by the Department of Health and Human Services seems not to be at all about protecting religious freedom. Rather, it uses the guise of religious freedom to create unreasonable barriers for women and men to access sexual and reproductive health care. Women and men should be able to access safe and […]

Jen Heitel Yakush

The Hill - Congress Blog Catholic Bishops Not on the Same Page as Pelosi, American Catholics

In their responses to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl and the US bishops commented on their interpretation of what Speaker Pelosi said, not what she actually said. Speaker Pelosi was correct in noting that Catholic teaching has changed over the years, even on the issue of when life begins. […]

Jon O'Brien

Los Angeles Times Catholics in the voting booth

Re “Pulpit and ballot,” editorial, Aug. 21  Archbishop Raymond Burke may be focused on the relationship between religion, abortion and politics; however, Catholic voters are united in their aversion to mixing politics and religion.   In a recent poll by Catholics for Choice, 70% of those polled said that the views of Catholic bishops were […]

Jon O'Brien

The Times (UK) Love, life and the failure of Humanae Vitae

Background briefing:   In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae, a teaching document for Catholics subtitled “on the regulation of birth”. This re-affirmed the traditional ban of the Roman Catholic Church on the use of artificial contraception within marriage. It caused shock waves in the Catholic world and beyond. Calls for the Church to […]

Sara Morello

New York Times AIDS Plan Is Lacking

To the Editor: “House Passes Broader Plan to Fight AIDS” (news article, July 25) highlights many of the positive elements that are included in a recent financing increase to fight H.I.V. and AIDS around the world. But it doesn’t mention any of the negatives, which are considerable. American taxpayers need to know that as a […]

Jon O'Brien

Irish Times To be truly pro-life, the Vatican should lift its contraception ban

RITE AND REASON: Pope Paul VI’s decision to uphold the ban continues to affect millions of families, writes Jon O’Brien SOME YEARS ago a mother of six wrote to this newspaper recounting the effects the Catholic Church ban on artificial contraceptives was having on her life. “You have a two-month-old on one side of the […]

Jon O'Brien

Religion News Service Humanae Vitae: Bad for the church, worse for the world

Forty years ago this week, the Vatican slammed the door on the hopes of the vast majority of Catholics and confirmed a complete prohibition on modern methods of contraception. Today, the rupture between the Vatican and lay Catholics remains unhealed. Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical that enshrined the teaching against contraception, radically altered my church. […]

Jon O'Brien

Detroit News Make contraceptive a norm

The state House is to be doubly applauded for passing the contraceptive rights bill. It did the right thing for women in an already difficult situation and faced down religious arguments that have no place deciding public policy. We should not need laws mandating hospitals to inform women who have been raped about emergency contraception. […]

Jon O'Brien

Orlando Sentinel Stem-cell research can promote life, dignity and discovery

The Catholic hierarchy’s long and public battle with science and scientists continued this week in Orlando as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement condemning embryonic stem-cell research. However, while the bishops are clearly in a minority in opposing stem-cell research, they are also going against a long Catholic tradition of supporting scientific […]

Jon O'Brien


There are many flaws in the arguments presented by Jakob Cornides (‘Human Rights Pitted against Man’, IJHR, February 2008). I shall restrict myself to responding to just one: his assertion regarding religious beliefs on abortion. Cornides asserts that ‘practically all of the world’s major religious traditions’ are opposed to abortion and that it would therefore […]

Jon O'Brien

HERALD (SCOTLAND) Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion and conscience remains

It IS hard to understand Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s position on conscience. He seeks to dictate to Catholic MPs and lords how they should vote, while simultaneously reminding them of the “inviolability of conscience” (“Cardinal appeals to MPs’ consciences over recent issues”, The Herald, June 5) Catholic MPs need no reminding that Catholic teaching on conscience holds […]

Jon O'Brien

DAGEN (SWEDEN) Fattigas behov måste gå före dogmer

To read this article in English, click here. Det finns normer, värderingar och traditioner som innebär att kvinnors sexualitet kontrolleras och de reproduktiva rättigheterna begränsas, samt möjliggör könsrelaterat våld. Vissa kristna biståndsorganisationer borde inte få statligt bidrag till hiv-aidsvården. Det finns ett starkt samband mellan religion och välgörenhet. Bland kristna predikas sedan lång tid tillbaka budskapet […]

Jon O'Brien

Forbes Praying For A Listening Pope

Catholics, progressives and conservatives alike are celebrating the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Washington, D.C., and New York. We are all waving flags of welcome; we see the pope’s visit as a celebration, not just of the man who is leader of the world’s 1 billion Catholics, but also a celebration of our faith. […]

Jon O'Brien

The Guardian (United Kingdom) Conscience should not make cowards of Catholic MPs

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor is right to remind us that “the truth will make you free” (Comment, March 24). In this spirit, it is worth remembering that the truth about Catholic teachings on conscience is more nuanced than is generally believed. Catholic teaching about the primacy of conscience holds that the individual must follow his or […]

Jon O'Brien

INTERNATIONAL HUMANIST NEWS Catholic hierarchy and the abortion debate

The Catholic hierarchy’s long and public battle with science and scientists over the centuries is well known and well documented. What’s perhaps less well known is the fact that despite these battles, various elements of the Catholic Church have a long and well respected reputation for supporting scientific endeavour. From the very earliest days of […]

Jon O'Brien

The Economist Church and state

SIR – The Economist is to be applauded for suggesting that religion should not receive preferential treatment when it seeks to influence public policy. Religion, in all its forms, is but another form of vested special interest, like labour unions or business associations, and should be treated as such. Competing interests do bring different perspectives to public policy, […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Post Catholic Tenets and the Vote

Joe Feuerherd is unlikely to go “straight to Hell” or even to experience any backlash from his bishop or parish priest for deciding to cast his vote one way or another. If the Catholic hierarchy were to start doling out punishments to every Catholic who strayed from church instructions, there would be little time for anything […]

Jon O'Brien

Wisconsin State Journal Whose rights have precedence?

You know you are having an impact when Catholic bishops break from their very busy schedules and write to legislators to decry your efforts. Recently, I wrote to Wisconsin legislators to explain the true Catholic position on so-called conscience clauses as they considered whether to include one in a bill mandating the provision of emergency […]

Jon O'Brien
Catholics for Choice