Letters & Op-Eds - 2020

Wall Street Journal WSJ–Catholic and Presidential Candidate

To the Editor: Of the more than 70 million Catholics in the U.S., a majority support abortion rights and the protection of those rights for all as a matter of conscience and social justice. As Catholics, we believe in the inherent dignity of each person, including those most marginalized and ignored by people in power. […]

The Hill Conservatives privilege ideology over expertise in this global health crisis

I was deeply troubled by Father Frank Pavone’s attack on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in The Hill. Pavone seeks to discredit ACOG’s medical expertise by suggesting that the body, along with its 60,000 board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists members, cannot simultaneously support abortion access, a key component of women’s reproductive health, and also be […]

KANSAS CITY STAR Not about care

The Kansas City Star’s editorial board is absolutely right to call out the Kansas Catholic Conference’s hypocrisy in blocking low-income Kansans’ access to affordable health care in the name of their anti-abortion obsession. (Nov. 22, “There is nothing pro-life about withholding health care coverage for poor Kansans”) The conference, speaking on behalf of the state’s […]

The Hill Abortion ban: There’s nothing sweet about Alabama

Alabama’s HB 341 an immoral, extremist action by anti-abortion zealots hell-bent on taking America backwards and is a slap in the face to core American values of freedom and liberty. Having failed time and time again to persuade the majority of Americans to embrace their anti-freedom agenda, abortion opponents are using the legislative process to […]

Jon O'Brien

The Hill Why America’s faithful must stand against the domestic gag rule

The religious right in America hitched its wagon to President Trump to impose their beliefs on others and limit the health care people can and cannot receive. It began with President Trump’s first stroke of the pen reinstating and callously expanding the global gag rule. His policy withholds $9 billion in U.S. foreign assistance including, […]

Cynthia Romero and Jack Teter

Albany Times Union Cuomo followed his conscience on the Reproductive Health Act

The article “Bishop sees shift in youths,” Jan. 18, provides an important opportunity to remind readers that the bishops of New York do not speak for all the more than 7 million Catholics across the Empire State. Like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, those faithful, everyday Catholics understand the sacred duty of each individual to listen to […]

Glenn Northern

The Hill We want our leaders to speak with moral clarity on abortion

When President Trump was elected, many women realized that something that seemed a far prospect could become reality — that Roe V. Wade could be overturned. In the face of this threat, we have also seen something inspiring. State legislators across the country — from Oregon to Illinois to New York — have passed a […]

Jon O'Brien

Ms. Blog Our Leaders Can—and Must—Ask Tough Questions About Religious Freedom

President Trump will undoubtedly use his State of the Union address tonight to appease religious arch-conservatives that helped elect him with stridently anti-abortion rhetoric that speaks to a narrow slice of the faithful electorate. But as we usher in a historic new Congress that embodies our religious plurality, we must also remember that our society […]

Cynthia Romero

DC Abortion Fund We must continue to fight together for equitable abortion access

I’ve spent a decades-long career protecting access to reproductive health—and I know firsthand that although abortion is a fundamental right, access to abortion care is far from equal. I recall my early days when I was a hotline operator at the National Abortion Federation (NAF) when they deployed only two operators for the whole country. […]

Glenn Northern

The New York Times Re: The War of Words on Abortion

To the Editor: Re “The War of Words on Abortion” (Op-Ed, Jan. 10): Charles C. Camosy is wrong in throwing up a smokescreen to pretend that the abortion debate is a struggle over language. Pro-choice victories in Ireland, Chile and likely soon in Argentina clearly demonstrate that increasingly, on a global scale, people in Catholic-majority countries are taking […]

Jon O'Brien

The Hill Our values are at stake with Kavanaugh’s nomination

Advocates in Washington, D.C. are no doubt watching every word from Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination proceedings to parse out what he says or doesn’t say about reproductive freedoms and other progressive causes. But ultimately we know that much of the posturing taking place during these proceedings is simply that — posturing and pageantry to appear as […]

Jon O'Brien

The Hill The arc of moral progress may be long, but Argentina’s women will prevail

Last week’s vote in Argentina’s Senate — which struck down the chance to legalize abortion — was a disappointment for millions of Argentinians and reproductive rights advocates around the world. But it was also an outcome that is not easily explained away. As we saw in Chile, my native Ireland and Argentina, many Catholic majority […]

Jon O'Brien

Ms. Blog Humanae Vitae and a Half-Century of Harm to Women Around the World

Next week, the Vatican will open the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland—just one month after the ominous anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the Vatican policy banning birth control. While the hierarchy “celebrates” 50 years of Humanae Vitae, a ban that has caused half a century of harm to the world’s poorest communities, and as we continue to see […]

Cynthia Romero

THE WASHINGTON POST Faith and reproductive choice don’t have to be enemies

David Von Drehle, in his July 8 op-ed, “The Democrats’ abortion war in the Midwest,” set up a false polemic: To be pure is to be popular. When the Republican Party has handed over the keys to a reckless president who has little regard for human dignity, the lesson for Democrats should not be to become moral […]

Cynthia Romero

The Hill Women need compassionate, comprehensive health care — not lies

As health-care providers who work day in and day out with women, we are deeply worried about the unregulated growth of fake health centers that seek to actively deceive women facing unplanned pregnancies. These so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” often advertise free pregnancy testing and pregnancy-options education. But once a woman steps into the facility she […]

Albert G. Thomas and Jamie Beers

Sun Sentinel The bishops want more control over your health care?

As the Trump administration continues to attack women’s reproductive rights, an important, but little understood trend is already reshaping health care options for women. Catholic-run or -affiliated health care institutions are taking up a growing share of the U.S. health care sector. Why should this matter? Although Catholic facilities are in some ways comparable to […]

Cynthia Romero

Boston Globe Catholic Ireland says, ‘Yes, we trust women’

Today I could not be prouder of my home country of Ireland and its momentous vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution banning abortion. This is a historic step for the rights and dignity of Irish women. And a historic step for Catholic Ireland. Read the full text of this piece in The […]

Jon O’Brien

New York Times Abortion in El Salvador

To the Editor: I applaud your April 26 online editorial for laying out the case for reforming El Salvador’s extreme abortion law, but was deeply disappointed to see El Salvador’s leadership miss a historic opportunity to do right by its citizens (news article, April 27). As a Catholic committed to social justice and women’s autonomy, […]

Jon O'Brien

The Hill Some religious folks in America see religious freedom as privileging only one set beliefs

The religious right lobby sees religious freedom not as tolerance for all, but about privileging one set beliefs over all others. This could not be clearer than in their latest attempt to introduce the First Amendment Defense Act in the U.S. Senate, which brazenly prioritizes the protection of religious beliefs regarding sex and same-sex marriages […]

Cynthia Romero

American Constitution Society Religious Freedom is not a License to Discriminate

On the heels of President Trump’s proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a controversial rule on January 19 that allows healthcare providers to deny care to patients for religious, moral or any other reasons. The department also created a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the […]

Cynthia Romero

The Hill Ireland’s Historic Chance to Trust Women

In a moment when women globally are reclaiming their voice and power, Ireland faces a historic chance to overturn a law that hurts so many women. On May 25, the Irish people will decide whether to repeal the 8th amendment, which equates the life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or fetus […]

Cynthia Romero

The Hill 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 […]

Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe

The New York Times Religious Freedom

To the Editor: Re “White House Puts a Bible in Doctors’ Offices” (editorial, Jan. 29): 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 […]

The Hill 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 […]

Jon O'Brien and Larry Decker

Irish 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 […]

Jon O'Brien

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 […]

Jon O'Brien

Austin American-Statesman 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 […]

Chicago Sun-Times LETTERS: As Catholics and mothers, we support abortion rights bill

As mothers and grandmothers, we care deeply about the future of Illinois, which is what first drove us into public office. We are committed to the women and children of our state — because we know they often bear the heaviest burden when bad policies hurt working families. As Catholics, we share an abiding commitment […]

The Hill The Hill: Foes of birth control mandate deny Americans care

On May 4, President Trump stood in the Rose Garden with a select group of ultraconservative religious figures who have entered into a marriage of convenience with his administration to carve out religious exemptions in federal law so that they can discriminate against and deny people care. In their editorial on this matter, Alveda King […]

Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe and Marcela Howell

Tampa Bay Times Wednesday’s letters: Bishops’ agenda lacks a majority

This weekend the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will convene in Orlando to continue to evaluate their role in U.S. policy. Very simply, that role should be minimized. As chair of the Florida Interfaith Coalition for Reproductive Health, I can tell you that the bishops’ discriminatory agenda does not represent the views or theological positions […]

Kate Lannamann

Baltimore Sun Catholic bishops’ agenda hurts families

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is kicking off its annual Fortnight for Freedom in Baltimore tomorrow in a celebratory mood. Every year, the bishops present this event as an effort to defend religious liberty. But we’ve seen over five years its real intent: to galvanize the Catholic hierarchy around an agenda to […]

Alaska Dispatch News Singling out is unjust, immoral

Rep. David Eastman’s claim that Alaska’s state funding for abortion incentivizes women to get pregnant and seek abortion services is offensive, stigmatizing and ignorant of the injustice that low-income women experience. A woman facing financial hardship deserves the same respect for decisions about her pregnancy as a woman with means. Existing barriers to abortion care […]

The Hill Hyde restrictions affect poor most

Steph Herold is absolutely right in her April 17 piece, “Yes, taxpayer dollars should fund abortions.” While many Americans are understandably seized with protecting federal funding for contraception and other essential healthcare, we should not lose sight of the fact that federal restrictions on abortion funding are simply unjust. The Hyde Amendment does nothing but […]

Jon O'Brien

Spiked ‘I Decide’: Jane Roe and the Struggle for Autonomy

I wasn’t the wrong person to become Jane Roe, I wasn’t the right person to become Jane Roe. I was just the person who became Jane Roe, of Roe v Wade.’ (I Am Roe: My Life, Roe v Wade, and Freedom of Choice, by Norma McCorvey and Andy Meisler, 1994.) On 18 February, Norma Leah […]

Jon O'Brien

Religion News Service Why this Catholic will not join the March for Life

Some groups that identify as anti-abortion feminists created a small hullabaloo at the post-inaugural Women’s March. They say it was wrong to exclude them just because they disagree with the organizers on a key plank — that a woman has the right to choose an abortion, follow her own conscience and be trusted to decide […]

Jon O'Brien

Independent As a Catholic, I find Donald Trump’s anti-abortion legislation disgusting

I wrote last year that “In the end, Donald J Trump, the unorthodox candidate, is no different than any other Republican establishment candidate” when it comes to a woman’s right to choose. I would have liked to have been proven wrong. But just three days into his term, President Trump is doubling down on ultra-conservative Republican dogma. […]

Jon O'Brien

National Catholic Reporter No Compromise?

Fr. Thomas Reese misses the target in “Time for compromise on gay rights and religious freedom,” (NCR, Dec. 30, 2016-Jan 12, 2017). To begin, perpetuating the false narrative that pits those who fight for civil rights and the vast majority of people of faith against each other is historically wrong. People of faith have always […]

Glenn Northern

Pocono Record Opinion: Campaign advocates for choice as social justice

Earlier this week, Catholics for Choice launched the Abortion in Good Faith campaign with Catholics appearing in ads across the country. The campaign tells the stories of Catholics who want accessible reproductive healthcare for everyone because of their call to live out social justice. These Catholics support abortion because of their faith, not despite it. […]

Jon O'Brien

The Dallas Morning News But Farrell Isn’t Telling All

It’s no surprise that Bishop Kevin Farrell does not like the Abortion in Good Faith campaign. For years, the bishops’ lobby in Washington, D.C., of which Farrell is a member, has argued against public funding of abortion. Whereas, we believe that public funding is a matter of social justice. There are a few things Farrell […]

Jon O'Brien

Commonweal Hyde Should Go

The editors of Commonweal are wrong (“Why Hyde Matters,” September 9): supporting the Hyde Amendment is not politically responsible, nor is it moral. The Hyde Amendment is the epitome of injustice for low-income women and women of color; it affects their social, economic, and reproductive wellbeing. Catholics are called to follow our conscience and to […]

Jon O'Brien

The Columbus Dispatch Conflict of interest is very clear

Michael Gonidakis’ leadership of the Medical Board of Ohio raises serious concerns beyond mere conflict of interest (“President’s ties to Right to Life assailed in letter,” Dispatch article, last Tuesday). His affiliation with Ohio Right to Life and email harassment of a ProgressOhio leader shows that he prioritizes his agenda over medical best practices and […]

Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe

The Hill Catholic politicians are following their conscience on abortion

Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus, implores Catholic politicians to disregard the will of their constituents and toe the hierarchy’s line on abortion policy (“Catholic politicians should follow conscience, consensus on abortion,” 17 August). Anderson cites Catholic and former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who, in 1984, remained personally opposed to abortion but […]

John Lesch

Hamilton and Griffin on Rights Sham Legislation: The Harms of the Conscience Protection Act and First Amendment Defense Act

It’s an election year in case you missed it. Congressional grandstanding and theatrical spectacle are center stage even as the time for Congress to do its job—passing important legislation and working to solve the nation’s myriad challenges—rapidly dwindles. Rather than tackle the hard issues, however, House Republicans are content to work on unnecessary and harmful […]

Glenn Northern

TIME The Catholic Church Should Encourage Women Leaders

The fact that my sister couldn’t be an altar server, as my brother and I were, confused me as a child. It was the first of many ways I noticed that she and all the other women I knew were treated differently in church. It was fine for them to be in the chorus at […]

Glenn Northern

TIME Pro-Choice Catholics Are Praying SCOTUS Will Protect Abortion Rights

The upcoming Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt looms over American women like an incoming tidal wave. Though the case comes out of Texas, the decision will have ramifications for access to abortion care nationwide. If the laws in question are upheld, clinics in states with similar laws may close, and anti-abortion legislators may […]

Hamilton and Griffin on Rights Catholics for Choice: Bishops’ Fortnight Cloaks Discrimination as Freedom

It’s time again for the annual Fortnight for Freedom, held by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) June 21–July 4, 2016. For the past few years, the bishops have tried to rally Catholics around their warped version of religious freedom—which promotes discrimination, undermines equality and celebrates imposing beliefs on others—using this two-week period as […]

Glenn Northern

Hamilton and Griffin on Rights Catholics for Choice: The Zika Virus and the Catholic Hierarchy

Summer is just around the corner. For many, the warmer weather will bring fun like grilling, hot dogs, baseball, outdoor jaunts and lighter clothing, but for many others it will bring the increased danger of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses like the Zika virus. This year the Zika virus is a particularly disastrous threat for women. […]

Glenn Northern

Hamilton and Griffin on Rights Catholics for Choice: Making Doctors Mad: Providers’ Conscience and Religious Freedom

Recently, a presidential candidate said abortion providers should be punished ifRoe v. Wade were ever overturned. Just a few days before, a colleague at the Center for Reproductive Rights and I spoke at a local university about existing limitations on reproductive health provision. Just like the Medical Students for Choice I met at their conference last October, these […]

Glenn Northern

Huffington Post Religious Liberty and the Big Business of Catholic Nonprofits

Imagine if your boss rifled through your purse to see if you were taking the pill. Or, in your annual review, your supervisor mentioned that he was disappointed that you used IVF to get pregnant. What if you had to sign a pledge to only use natural family planning in order to get the job? […]

Jon O'Brien

The Hill Zika coming our way: Points for Catholics to consider

The White House has announced a one-day summit on the Zika virus next month, as the virus is expected to arrive in the continental U.S. in June or July. The meeting will discuss the best approaches to address the disease. We know that there are devastating effects of Zika on women in Latin America, where […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times Catholic Charities and the Pope

Re “The pope’s failure in Africa,” (Opinion, Dec. 2): Paul Vallely misses an important point regarding Pope Francis’s silence on L.G.B.T. issues during his recent trip to Africa. Related is the pope’s failure to address the refusal of Catholic charities to provide critical reproductive healthcare in their development aid. Catholic service providers refuse to distribute […]

Hamilton and Griffin on Rights Catholics for Choice, A Prescription for Discrimination: Catholic Healthcare and the Ethical and Religious Directives

Do you want the Catholic bishops controlling what kind of birth control you use or telling you what medical procedures you can have? I daresay no one does, but this is exactly what’s happening at Catholic hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the United States. Catholic health systems are already the nation’s largest group of […]

Glenn Northern

The Hill - Congress Blog Pope Francis’ Speech Isn’t the Time to Score Political Points

Like most Catholics here in the United States, I’m excited for Pope Francis’ visit and looking forward to his address to Congress. But two potential images from his address trouble me. One is the idea of Catholics and journalists alike sitting around and playing a drinking game, taking a shot every time Francis says a […]

Jon O'Brien

TIME The Catholic Case for Abortion Rights

Growing up in the Republic of Ireland, I knew that abortion in my Catholic country was a very serious issue. Traveling around the world as I have—Poland, Portugal, Philippines or even to Philadelphia—I can see that the Catholic hierarchy has often over-invested in its concerns with the pelvic zone, and particularly abortion. Despite a massive […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times Parsing Pope Francis’ Words on Abortion

Jill Filipovic gets my religion wrong when she says Pope Francis’ recent actions are evidence of some underhanded anti-abortion strategy (“The Pope’s Unforgiving Message,” Op-Ed, Sept. 11). For the majority of Catholic women who choose abortion, there is absolutely no question of sin. Following your conscience, whether it leads you to birth control, in vitro […]

Jon O'Brien

Catholic Men Play Role in Pregnancy

Despite what Pope Francis has said, I do not believe that Catholic women will be lining up to ask for forgiveness for having an abortion. A long time ago, Catholic women understood that they can make moral and ethical decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. They know that they can, in good conscience, disagree […]

Jon O'Brien

Los Angeles Times Pope Francis’ Abortion Letter Was Mostly for Bishops, Not Lay Catholics

To  the editor: I think you have missed the real point of the Pope Francis letter on abortion with the conclusion that it does not change much in Roman Catholic teaching or practice. (Pope’s decree on abortion may signal change in tone, not practice,” Sept. 1) Catholic women the world over have abortions, use birth control and access […]

Jon O'Brien

Hamilton and Griffin on Rights Catholics for Choice Update: Bishops Use Fortnight for Freedom to Lobby for the Right to Discriminate

The so-called Fortnight for Freedom is an annual campaign organized by the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), ostensibly to promote religious liberty. It uses an auspicious feast day to start—on the church’s calendar, June 21 marks when two martyrs who suffered political persecution, St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, were killed under Henry […]

Glenn Northern

Huffington Post Planned Parenthood Attack Campaign: Not Letting the Facts Get in the Way of Your Story

The trick of a carnival huckster is to distract you with the right hand so you don’t see what the left hand is doing. The firestorm over the latest attack on healthcare provider Planned Parenthood is a classic example of how you can manufacture outlandish claims hidden by a mirage of genuine care and concern. […]

Jon O'Brien

Argus Leader Are Catholic bishops practicing discrimination?

Bishop Swain’s remark that “we don’t judge anyone … judgment is to be left to God” is bogus (“Bishop: ‘We do not judge anyone,’” June 30). As the bishops continue their so-called “Fortnight for Freedom,” it’s clear that their idea of religious freedom is the freedom to discriminate against anyone who disagrees with them. Bishops […]

Jon O'Brien

Crux A March for Discrimination

I love a good parade. There’s something about the pageantry, the grandeur, and the joy that lifts up a community and all the people within it. Perhaps I’m bitten by nostalgia when I remember my parents’ stories about the Corpus Christi parades back in Ireland in the 1940s and 50s. Thousands wound their way through […]

Jon O'Brien

Crux A march for discrimination

I love a good parade. There’s something about the pageantry, the grandeur, and the joy that lifts up a community and all the people within it. Perhaps I’m bitten by nostalgia when I remember my parents’ stories about the Corpus Christi parades back in Ireland in the 1940s and 50s. Thousands wound their way through […]

Jon O'Brien

Baltimore Sun Freedom of and from religion

On Sunday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will kick off its usual lackluster campaign called the Fortnight for Freedom in Baltimore. This defense of religious liberty campaign is about as disingenuous an effort as any carnival huckster could conjure. In true Orwellian style, the bishops beg for the freedom to discriminate against others while […]

Jon O'Brien and Barry Lynn

The Hill You say rights, I say discrimination

As an African-American Catholic, I think it is frankly offensive that Thomas W. Burnford compares laws that denied fundamental rights to African-Americans in the 1950s and ’60s to today’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) and Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA), which provide protection from discrimination for people in the District of Columbia (“New District laws […]

Glenn Northern

Washington Post What Catholics really believe

Donald Wuerl and John Garvey’s April 19 Local Opinions commentary, “Disagreement is not discrimination,” missed the point on what real religious liberty is — and it did not reflect the values of the vast majority ofCatholic voters. Seventy million Catholics make up the Catholic Church in the United States, and there are just 300 bishops. While the […]

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Don’t misinterpret lay Catholic opinion

Jim Galloway’s article, “The Catholic absence in this year’s religious liberty fight” (Political Insider, March 18), misinterprets on which side the majority of Catholics are fighting. We overwhelmingly reject the use of religion as a tool for discrimination; 86 percent of Catholic voters disapprove of a guidance counselor refusing to help a gay student. Similarly, […]

The Hill - Congress Blog The hard truth about reproductive health under Obama

There’s no doubt that the election and reelection of Barack Obama will always and rightfully be remembered as groundbreaking, historical wins. However, for those who support women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, his presidency has also been a profoundly disappointing one. From the early days of the Obama presidency, it was painfully obvious to […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times On Abortion, Words Are Weapons

To the Editor: Re “Advocates Shun ‘Pro-Choice’ to Expand Message” (news article, July 29): As a lifetime advocate for women’s health, I fear that your article may give rise to a misperception about the reality of abortion rights advocacy by highlighting the campaign strategy of one organization, Planned Parenthood. I grew up before abortion became […]

Washington Post After Hobby Lobby, What Next for Employees?

To the Editor: E.J. Dionne is right that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case created “an entirely new legal regime” [“Supreme Court reveals its class bias,” op-ed, July 3]. But the fault lies in the one area that Mr. Dionne lauded: the Obama administration’s history of bending over backward to appease religious […]

New York Times A New Kind of Church, Led by Pope Francis

To the Editor: Members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are sorely mistaken if they think that buying smaller houses and cars will alleviate the disappointment that many Catholics have in our leaders (“U.S. Bishops Seek to Match Vatican in Shifting Tone,” front page, June 13). It’s true that Pope Francis has shifted […]

Baltimore Sun Whose freedom are the bishops protecting?

The rallying cry “freedom to serve” will soon be heard in Baltimore as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and its Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty launches its annual “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign tomorrow. If you think this is an odd phrase to refer to the demand that religious employers be exempt […]

Cincinnati Enquirer Our bishops out of touch with everyday Catholics

I very much appreciated Peggy Hanna’s response to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s draconian morality clause. (“Morality clause has nothing to do with morals,” April 1). It encapsulates what it means to be Catholic in America today, where our bishops are out of touch with the everyday lives of Catholics. We know that 99 percent of […]

Jon O'Brien

Ahora Si Consequencias al redefinir la libertad religiosa

No debe haber una prueba religiosa para trabajar como empleada de una tienda de artesanías o como fabricante de gabinetes. Ni tampoco debe haber una prueba religiosa para poder tener acceso a una atención médica básica que incluya anticonceptivos. Sin embargo, eso es lo que algunos extremistas religiosos están pidiendo: redefinir la libertad religiosa para […]

Kathy Miller y Sara Hutchinson

Austin American-Statesman Supreme Court decision in birth control cases could redefine religious freedom in America

As President John F. Kennedy reminded in Houston in 1960, “There was no religious test at the Alamo.” There also shouldn’t be a religious test to work as a craft-store clerk, cabinetry maker, cemetery groundskeeper or nursing home attendant — or to have access to basic health care like birth control and family planning services. […]

Kathy Miller and Sara Hutchinson

New York Times Being a Catholic in the Time of Francis

To the Editor: Peter Manseau raises several important issues in “What It Means to Be Catholic Now” (Op-Ed, March 10), not least the question “Who is a Catholic?” Catholicism has long been defined by the Latin phrase “in varietate concordia” — “unity in diversity.” All Catholics are connected by the requirement to follow our consciences […]

Jon O'Brien

Legislative Gazette Bosses should not dictate their employees’ healthcare decisions

The newly introduced “Boss Bill” is an important step in ensuring that bosses’ personal religious beliefs do not trump a woman’s healthcare needs and access to necessary care. It protects women and families from government sanctioned religious intrusion into their private lives and protects the fundamental right of New Yorkers — and Americans—to follow our […]

Sara Hutchinson

Religion News Service COMMENTARY: The Catholic case for contraception coverage

The ongoing debate about the state of religious freedom in the United States is riddled with distortion and half-truths. There is certainly an important debate to be had, but sadly it’s not the one we hear much about. Much of the current debate centers on the requirement for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, […]

Jon O'Brien

The New Yorker Words and deeds

  James Carroll’s article about Pope Francis includes several compelling details, not least that Mary McAleese, the former President of Ireland, called for the Pope to involve ordinary Catholics in the 2014 synod on the family (“Who Am I to Judge?,” December 23rd & 30th). There is a precedent for such involvement. In the nineteen-sixties, […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times Pope’s View of Women

To the Editor: Re “Pope’s Voice Is Resonating in the Capitol” (front page, Jan. 6): Like many American Catholics, I have been delighted by the new pope. Francis’s request for the crowd’s blessing when he first appeared above St. Peter’s Square was startling after so many years of hierarchical arrogance and authoritarianism in Rome and […]

Janet Gallagher

RH Reality Check How the Bishops’ Directives Derail Medical Decisions at Catholic Hospitals

  On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Michigan announced they had filed a lawsuit against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) “on behalf of a pregnant woman who miscarried and was denied appropriate medical treatment because the only hospital in her county is required to abide by religious directives.” […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times Catholics and Abortion

Contrary to an activist in New Mexico quoted in your article, we do have considerable knowledge about what Catholics think when it comes to abortion. You quote the activist, Pat Davis, as saying, “There’s not a model anywhere in the country to help us figure out whether a Catholic Hispanic woman thinks that an abortion […]

Jon O'Brien

SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE Church, Catholics don’t always think alike

Despite what our bishops might have you believe, Catholics stopped looking to the pope and other members of the hierarchy to provide us with leadership on matters related to reproductive health care, sexuality and women’s autonomy a very long time ago. Many Catholics remain hopeful that Pope Francis will translate his hints about a more […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Post - Acts of Faith At the United Nations, the Vatican is church and state. That needs to change.

The world seems to have fallen in love with Pope Francis and, given the interview with La Civilta Cattolica recently, that is understandable. Everyone is pinning their hopes for change on this pope. Catholics are hopeful that the hierarchy will join the rest of us in respecting each person’s conscience, especially on decisions about sexuality and reproductive […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Post - Acts of Faith Pope Francis Is Lots of Hope, Very Little Change

Catholics desperately want change in our church, and Pope Francis is being heralded in Time magazine and on almost every major network and newspaper as the one who will deliver it. But before we pronounce him the patron saint of reform, we should step back and take a critical look at whether his gestures indicate […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times The Catholic Church and Contraception

It’s clear that Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York does not like the requirement that health care insurance should cover contraception (“Archdiocese Pays for Health Plan That Covers Birth Control,” news article, May 27). It is equally clear that contraceptive coverage can be part of insurance for employees of Catholic institutions with no harm […]

Sara Morello

Huffington Post Exit Stage Left: Cardinal O’Malley’s Fit of Pique

Boston’s Cardinal Seán O’Malley has withdrawn from the Boston College graduation rather than share the stage with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. He follows the lead of a few of his brother bishops like John D’Arcy, who did the same when President Obama was invited to Notre Dame’s graduation in 2009. Then, as now, it may be surprising that […]

Jon O'Brien

Albany Times Union Respect women’s autonomy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo designated women’s equality as one of his top legislative priorities. There should be nothing controversial about promoting equal pay, fighting domestic violence and human trafficking, or affirming that a woman should be able to make her own reproductive health decisions. Yet the governor’s action has sparked a furious response from the New […]

Jon O'Brien

Alternet Will Pope Francis End Vatican’s Obstructive Role at U.N.?

As Pope Francis settles into his new role, he has a perfect opportunity to remold the Vatican’s relationship with the rest of the world. A great place to start would be at the United Nations, where the Vatican, through an entity known as the Holy See, has special powers granted to no other religious institution. […]

Jon O'Brien

Abortion in Ireland

SIR – Ireland is in the thrall of an abortion debate that should have been resolved 20 years ago (“Still restrictive”, February 2nd). Tolerating the open secret that thousands of women must travel abroad for abortions is unconscionable. The majority of the electorate support some loosening of the abortion law and many are willing to […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times Birth Control and Religious Freedom

To the Editor: Your editorial missed the mark on a number of issues. At stake was not just whether religiously affiliated organizations would be exempt. Many, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wanted any employer who provided insurance to have the ability to opt out. The so-called Taco Bell exemption that the bishops […]

Jon O'Brien

PROVIDENCE JOURNAL Roe v. Wade’s ideals are Rhode Island’s

As we welcome the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, of Jan. 22, 1973, and begin the 2013 legislative session in Rhode Island, it appears that the more things have changed, the more things have stayed the same. During the late 1980s, when I, a Catholic, was a Rhode Island Democratic state representative, […]

Neil A. Corkery

Irish Times The abortion debate

Sir, – Paddy Agnew’s reference to tilting at windmills is apt, as it appears that the Vatican still operates as if it were 1604, when Cervantes coined that phrase (Opinion, January 11th). But times have changed, whether the Vatican likes it or not. The Vatican has been losing battle after battle in Ireland. Despite its […]

Jon O'Brien

RH Reality Check Philippines Reproductive Health Bill Passes House of Representatives Despite Aggressive Opposition from Bishops

In the early morning of December 13th, 2012, the Philippines House of Representatives voted to pass the Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011 (commonly known as the RH bill), which will give millions of women access to contraception and other reproductive health services that were in many cases out of […]

Magdalena Lopez

RH Reality Check President Obama: Do the Right Thing on HIV Prevention

This morning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will release PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation, the Obama administration’s plan for combating HIV and AIDS. For the plan to be effective, both family planning and condoms for HIV prevention must be included. Unfortunately, when it comes to making sure taxpayer-funded AIDS programs are comprehensive and designed […]

Jon O'Brien

THE SOUTHLAND TIMES (NEW ZEALAND) Opposition to abortion not the stance of all Catholics

The move to bring abortion services to Southland Hospital is to be applauded. It is the right thing to do and serves the local community well. Sadly for the majority of Catholics who are pro choice, the Catholic hierarchy, through Bishop Colin Campbell of Dunedin, has been leading the opposition. In addressing his resistance to […]

Jon O'Brien

Politico Letter in response to “Abortion-rights groups absent on fetal pain laws”

Kudos for challenging your readership by raising the issue of later abortion,“Abortion-rights groups absent on fetal pain laws” on August 13. It would be a mistake, however, to be taken in by the Trojan horse of “fetal pain” as a wedge issue – that may, in fact, be the stroke that is “handing victories to anti-abortion […]

Jon O'Brien

San Jose Mercury News Catholic Church inhibits AIDS work in Philippines

At the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington DC this week, activists from around the world are exchanging experiences about what works in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Advocates from the Philippines will be paying attention to the wisdom gathered in other areas. Unfortunately, we are hindered in accessing one lifesaving tool–condoms. HIV has had a […]

Magdalena Lopez

Religion Dispatches The Truth about Catholics and Condoms

As the XIX International AIDS Conference comes to Washington D.C., the issue of condom use to prevent the spread of HIV will certainly be a central topic of debate. For many involved, the statement that Pope Benedict XVI made in 2010 still resonates. In a great leap forward for the Catholic Church, he said that […]

Jon O'Brien

The Hill - Congress Blog Freedom of religion: The liberty of individual conscience

Wednesday’s vote in the House to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act is not the only path being taken to trample on women’s rights. A new bill from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) seeks to allow employers to discriminate against their employees in new and far-reaching ways. HR 6097 would mean […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Post Government’s role in reaching pluralism

His protestations to the contrary, Michael Gerson has a strange notion of how to achieve a true respect for pluralism [“Obama’s culture war,”op-ed June 20]. We agree with Mr. Gerson that a political community may contain many people pursuing different ways of life, but we reject his assertion that government should not have to defend […]

Jon O'Brien and Nancy Kaufman

New York Times Catholics and the Birth Control Mandate

To the Editor: You highlighted a misconception about religious freedom that the American bishops are trying to manipulate into reality. The bishops have the freedom to preach, but not the freedom to steamroll policy over the existing, thoughtfully crafted protections for religious freedom. They seek to restrict others’ conscience rights to protect a fictional monolithic […]

Jon O'Brien

Denver Post Catholic Church’s adherence to its stance on birth control

Your article’s treatment of the papal encyclical on birth control, “Humanae Vitae,” ignores that document’s difficult birth. When married couples joined the group of clergy and laypeople appointed by the Pope to re-evaluate the ban on artificial contraceptives, they told of the impact that a mechanistic and unnatural method called natural family planning had on […]

Jon O'Brien

CONTRACEPTION When did family planning become a risky proposition?

To the Editor: In “Title X: A Proud Past, An Uncertain Future,” Coleman and Jones [1] describe a robust family planning network that was created and maintained in a politically divisive environment. The legislators who crafted Title X 40 years ago kept the focus on their constituents and were able to create centers where “no […]

Jon O'Brien

IRISH AMERICA What America Can Learn From Ireland

The Irish, a fiercely independent people ruled by another country for centuries, have a unique appreciation for irony. As an advocate for reproductive rights in Ireland, I saw the travesty in a church-sanctioned anti-contraception policy that harmed women and families in the name of saving them from sin. Here, in the country that espouses religious […]

Jon O'Brien

Legislative Gazette The Reproductive Health Act: Common sense values for the common good

The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) protects women’s rights, health and the consciences of providers and patients. This is just good common sense. Further, it meets the Catholic injunction to protect the common good—of all New Yorkers, Catholic and non-Catholic. The act contains many familiar principles. The RHA affirms that “every individual has a fundamental right […]

Sara Hutchinson

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH Reclaiming religious freedom

The decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to extend no-copay contraceptive coverage to employee health plans caused a veritable firestorm. Leading the voices of opposition has been the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose representatives claimed that they “cannot — will not — comply with this unjust law [because] people […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Post - Acts of Faith Did the bishops forget about women?

This morning, President Obama announced what was called an “accommodation” on the rule relating to access to insurance coverage for birth control. While I was glad that the administration did not cave completely to the demands of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the reality is that this compromise relies on insurance companies to […]

Jon O'Brien

Albany Times Union It’s a matter of conscience

Family planning is under attack. The decision by the federal Department of Health and Human Services to require most employers to cover preventive health care for women, including family planning at no extra cost, has met with intense opposition from conservative forces. Leading the charge have been the nation’s 260 Catholic bishops. Their coordinated campaign […]

Sara Hutchinson

Washington Post Workers, not Catholic hierarchy, should choose their health care

Michael Gerson imputed nefarious motives to President Obama for his administration’s requirement that contraception be made more affordable and available for American workers. He lamented the decision’s effects on a bishop, a priest and the vice president. Tellingly missing from this analysis: the profound and beneficial effects on the millions of American women and their […]

Jon O'Brien

SANTA CRUZ SENTINEL Catholic or not, give women choice

Catholic Healthcare West’s decision to become a secular medical provider may well allow it to be more Catholic in the long run. The major difference between Catholic health care providers and their secular counterparts is in the provision of reproductive health services. The majority of bishops have decreed Catholic institutions should not provide contraception or […]

Jon O'Brien

THE CONCORD MONITOR Religious freedom in the crosshairs of Catholic bishops

Who should publicly funded community health programs serve, other than the needs of the community? In a cunning sleight of hand, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, with the creation of its new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, wants to redefine freedom of religion to mean that the bishops are allowed to impose their […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Post - Acts of Faith On family planning, does the Catholic Church represent Catholics?

John Garvey’s op-ed, “HHS’s birth-control rules intrude on Catholic values,” makes some assertions that do not hold up to scrutiny. In fact, millions of Catholics—theologians and laypeople alike—have lauded the inclusion of women’s preventive healthcare coverage as respectful of Catholic values. The Catholic University of America (CUA) president asserted that the Department of Health and Human […]

Jon O'Brien

Louisville Courier-Journal ‘Out-of-touch’ beliefs

The news of yet another merger between a Catholic hospital and a non-Catholic hospital — which always hit poor women hardest — makes for sobering reading (“Hospital merger limits medical options: Catholic rules will bar tubal ligations at University hospital,” July 17). The U.S. bishops have failed to persuade Catholics to follow their lead in […]

Jon O'Brien

DES MOINES REGISTER Many things factor into one’s conscience

Bishop Richard Pates presents a very one-sided view of the church’s teachings on conscience (“Protect Life and the Right to Follow Our Conscience,” May 13). Catholic teachings on conscience, which stretch back to the earliest days of the church, are far more nuanced than presented in his article. One’s conscience can be guided, but never […]

Jon O'Brien

Religion Dispatches Where’s the Catholic ‘Conscience’ in Opposition to Planned Parenthood?

In 1970, President Richard Nixon placed such a high priority on family planning that he approved the Title X program to make contraception available to low-income women. Another prominent Republican supporter of the policy, the future President George H.W. Bush, said at the time, “We need to take sensationalism out of this topic so that […]

Jon O'Brien

NEPSZABADSAG The Hungarian Trojan Horse

Read the article in Hungarian below or on the Népszabadság website. A Trojan horse has arrived outside the gates of Hungarian society. It appears in the form of an apparently benign attempt to reform and modernize the constitution. But the possible implications of this modernization are horrendous for all Hungarians. To explore what these implications are, I want you […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times Abortion and the Bishops

  To the Editor: Re “Clergy Urge Efforts to Lower the City’s Abortion Rate” (news article, Jan. 7): If Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan is “embarrassed” about the abortion rate in New York City, perhaps he should do more than pontificate on the matter with vague offers of help to pregnant women. What about those who […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Post The Vatican’s first step toward the realities of sexuality

  To the Editor: Michael Gerson’s Nov. 23 column, “A dose of realism at the Vatican,” was spot-on. The pope’s admission that condom use to prevent the transmission of HIV is “a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human sexuality” is the Catholic hierarchy’s own first step in addressing the […]

Jon O'Brien

Huffington Post The Bishops’ Fig Leaf


Jon O'Brien

THE BODY Catholics and Condoms: Why What the Pope Says Matters

Introduction During his 2009 trip to Cameroon, a country with an HIV prevalence rate of over 5%, Pope Benedict XVI made a shocking assertion on condom use to prevent HIV. He told reporters, “You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.” This false and dangerous assertion caused […]

Jon O'Brien

Ms. Magazine Bishops Lose the Faith(ful)

Abortion & the Bishops: Playing Politics with Women’s Lives What happens to the separation of church and state when top US Catholic bishops hold health-care reform hostage? That’s the topic of the cover story in the just-published issue of Ms. Magazine. Catholics for Choice’s president, Jon O’Brien, answers the question, and takes a closer look […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times Abortion and Health Care Legislation

To the Editor: Re “A Victory in Health Care Vote for Opponents of Abortion” (front page, Nov. 9): It is worrying that so many members of Congress succumbed to lobbying by the United States Conference of Catholics Bishops, no matter how “forceful.” Health care reform will affect all Americans, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. The bishops’ […]

Jon O'Brien

Politico The Catholic Bishops’ Double Standard

As advocates for reproductive health, we are outraged at what transpired in the House over the weekend. The passage of the Stupak-Pitts amendment goes far beyond the status quo on abortion restrictions and would make it nearly impossible for insurance plans in the new system to offer abortion coverage. This campaign succeeded in large part […]

Nancy Keenan and Jon O'Brien

Washington Post - Acts of Faith What Catholics Want in Health Care Reform

The United States is embroiled in a debate over health care. Ideological divides over morality and money are front and center, and threatening to derail any real progress on what has become a major crisis. There is a curious divide in the national conversation we are having about what exactly health care is or what […]

Jon O'Brien and Sara Morello

THE LANCET Was the Pope Wrong?

The Lancet rightly reflects on the global consensus that the Pope’s comments on condoms were irresponsible and dangerous. What is especially troubling about his comments is that when an influential religious leader such as Pope Benedict speaks, we sometimes see public health policies crafted around the beliefs of that faith group. This happened in the […]

Jon O'Brien

The Economist The Challenge of AIDS

A crucial addition to your evaluation of the pope’s comments is that Catholics the world over ignore the church and use condoms. However, it is tragic that while Catholics choose to ignore the Vatican, the Catholic hierarchy in the United States seeks to deny others that choice. Last year, the bishops lobbied successfully to take […]

Jon O'Brien

There Is Ample Middle Ground between Patient Rights and Doctor’s Conscience

Regarding the March 26 article, “Obama weighs patient rights vs. doctor’s conscience”: In this article the Monitor presents a false choice between the “freedom of conscience for healthcare workers and unfettered access to healthcare, especially reproductive services.” There is ample middle ground between those two scenarios to meet the needs of healthcare workers and of […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Times Keep Politics Out of the Church

Like the majority of Catholics, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama’s choice to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, seems to be able to reconcile her faith with her political beliefs, including her position on abortion (“HHS nominee Sebelius caught between her politics and faith,” Page 1, Tuesday). Archbishop Joseph Naumann […]

Jon O'Brien

The Times (UK) Cracks in the Hierarchy are Magnified in Shanty Towns

The Pope is being more than disingenuous in his statement claiming that condom use will not solve the Aids crisis. No responsible agency or individual claims that condoms are a panacea. But they are a critical aspect of any programme that seeks to stem the spread of HIV. The problem with the Vatican’s position is […]

Jon O'Brien

Washington Times Foreign Aid and Abortion

In response to “Catholics hit Obama on pro-choice agenda” (Nation, Thursday): The U.S. bishops´ campaign against the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that has not yet been introduced into the 111th Congress, is not based on fact or reality. Instead, it seeks to stir up fear among churchgoing Catholics about the intentions of the […]

Jon O'Brien

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

Independent Catholics defy Vatican ban on Amnesty over stance on abortion

Sir: Your leading article, “A singular lack of compassion”, (15 June) is exactly right. The Vatican’s teachings on reproductive rights do irreparable harm to women’s health the world over. But we may take solace, because individual Catholics are unlikely to obey the cardinal’s instruction to stop funding Amnesty International over its recent decision to support […]

Jon O'Brien

New York Times The Mass In Latin (Redux)

To the Editor: John L. Allen Jr. gets it wrong when he predicts that the ”Catholic left” will decry the pope’s forthcoming decision to liberalize the use of the Latin Mass as a step back into traditionalism (”The Pope’s Language Lesson,” Op-Ed, May 30). Indeed, many of us will welcome the fact that someone as […]

Jon O'Brien

ABORTION REVIEW Abortion: What do Catholics really think?

Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for a Free Choice, explains why the notion that all Catholics are opposed to abortion is just plain wrong. As an Irish Catholic I know it would make Henry VIII lose his cool, if not his head. After successfully carrying out the Reformation and foiling Guy Fawkes, the British establishment […]

Jon O'Brien

National Catholic Reporter Prevention, not prohibition, is the way forward

The Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw an abortion procedure used in later term pregnancies has rightly received a lot of attention. While the ruling reached in Gonzalez v. Carhart will do nothing to reduce the number of abortions, it will certainly invigorate the anti-choice lobby and we can expect to see fervent efforts at the […]

Jon O'Brien

Mother Jones No Choice on Taxes

Troy Newman may have been less than honest in dealing with women ringing him at his new offices (“Born-Again Abortion Clinics,” by Josh Harkinson ), but happily he can no longer be economical with the truth on tax-free dollars. Last September 11 last, the Internal Revenue Service withdrew Operation Rescue’s 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt status. While […]

Jon O'Brien

EU OBSERVER One religion should not be singled out in Europe

The pope may believe that the European Union is “doing good for no one” by not acknowledging Europe’s Christian heritage in the recent Berlin Declaration, but the reality is somewhat different. Europe is a very different place than it was 10 years ago, let alone 50. Europe also faces many, many challenges. By singling out […]

Jon O'Brien

THE SCOTSMAN Women Need Amnesty International to Support Abortion Rights

Dr. Carmen Valenzuela-Dall, a pediatrician, is senior program officer in the international department at Catholics for a Free Choice and a commissioner of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women & Children. As the United Kingdom branch of Amnesty International considers this week whether to include access to abortion in the list of rights that it supports […]

Dr. Carmen Angélica Valenzuela


To the Editor Why is it that conservative Catholics like Kathryn Jean Lopez (“Real Catholics still believe,” March 9, 2007) seem hell bent on making the Catholic church smaller and even more small minded than it is today? The majority of Catholics do not share her ultra-orthodox take on the world or on our religion. […]

Jon O'Brien

Baltimore Sun Ban on contraception antiquated, dangerous

When the archbishop of Kampala, Uganda, Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, told the BBC Panorama documentary Sex and the City that it was preferable to die than to use a condom, many suddenly realized the depth of the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to the use of condoms. When it became clear that he was referring to a woman […]

Frances Kissling

Salon Should Abortion Be Prevented?

If abortion is a morally neutral act and does not endanger women’s health, why bother to prevent the need for it? After all, the cost of a first-trimester abortion is comparable to the cost of a year’s supply of birth control pills — and abortion has fewer complications and less medical risk for women than […]

Frances Kissling

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Should Vatican alter condom stance?: Yes

If recent reports are true, and we do see a modest change in official Catholic opposition to the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, it would be a lifesaver. UNAIDS, the United Nations program on the disease, reports that there are more than 40 million people worldwide living with HIV. And the […]

Frances Kissling

The Nation Looking for Salvation in All the Wrong Places

The overwhelming power of conservative Christians in the current Administration is deeply disturbing. But equally disturbing is the call that has gone out to what is now called “progressive religion” to counter the conservative Christian view of what God wants with a different list of God’s desires. The loudest call has come from the Democratic […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Post Catholic Barriers to Plan B

According to William Saletan [“The Birds and the Plan B’s,” Outlook, April 2], the attitudes of Catholic hospitals toward emergency contraception (EC) are far from liberal. The majority refuse to provide emergency conception at all, even to women who have been raped. Even among those that do, many place unnecessary barriers in the way; if […]

Frances Kissling

Hartford Courant Does Church Doctrine Trump Rape Victims’ Needs? Frances Kissling

A bill before the Connecticut General Assembly requiring hospitals, including four Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors is heatedly opposed by local Catholic bishops and the Catholic hospitals. They want an exemption permitting hospitals to deny emergency contraception to women who have been raped, because such contraception might induce what they […]

Frances Kissling

Bridging the Abortion Divide

This past week, 55 Catholic Democrats in Congress issued an unprecedented statement of principles. Never before have they worn their religion so openly on their sleeves. Unlike evangelicals, Catholics have tended to downplay their religious affiliation. Perhaps it’s a function of the memory of the anti-Catholic bias John F. Kennedy faced; perhaps it stems from a […]

Frances Kissling

Slate.com Is Abortion Bad? A Response from Catholics for a Free Choice

Having followed with great interest the dialogue between Katha and Will and the responses in the “fray,” many things surprise me. I think this discussion embodies the core tensions within prochoice circles at this time. The fact that not a single leader of the movement has entered the dialogue is disturbing. Consider this a plea […]

Frances Kissling

The Economist Catholic Choice

SIR – It is important to note that Colombia’s Catholics, who comprise 90% of the population, support the liberalisation of its abortion laws (“Last bastions”, October 8th). A poll, conducted by Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Catholics for the Right to Decide), in September 2003 demonstrated that the vast majority of Colombians support access […]

Frances Kissling

TIME MAGAZINE ASIA Talking Points: China and the US

What should George W. Bush and Hu Jintao focus on in the all-important U.S.-China relationship? TIME asks the experts Father Paul A priest in China’s underground, non-approved Catholic Church I hope President Bush will use his influence to encourage Hu to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican. That would be a way to promote genuine human rights, […]

Frances Kissling

Salon Getting Religion

Democratic guru Jim Wallis’ strategy to woo “values voters” compromises on abortion in unacceptable ways. Editor’s note: An expanded version of this article will appear in the autumn 2005 issue of Conscience. I was sitting in a Senate meeting room a few months ago when I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand […]

Frances Kissling

Center for American Progress The American Family: Building a Foundation for Real Democracy and Freedom

For progressives, Independence Day offers an opportunity to recommit ourselves to creating a more equitable, caring, peaceful, truly democratic, and free society. Today, these goals are seriously threatened, both in the United States and worldwide. We are at a historic juncture where we are challenged to go deeper. It is a time to assess what […]

Frances Kissling and Riane Eisler

Seattle Times Study in Catastrophe

Deadly simple “The ABCs of fighting the spread of AIDS in Africa” [syndicated column, June 17], Kathryn Lopez’s cynical interpretation of Elton John’s remarks concerning the invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to the upcoming Live 8 concert, demonstrates a willful disregard of epidemiological studies and a lack of understanding of the complexity of HIV/AIDS prevention […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Post Pro-Life, Pro-Choice-Common Ground

To the Editor: Who are these abortion rights groups that EJ Dionne  stereotypes as “worrying…that anyone suggesting abortion is a problem undercuts the prochoice view” (“Centrist courage on abortion,” May 17, 2005)?  I’m tired of this bashing of prochoice groups.  Few are absolutist on abortion or unaware of the moral value of working to reduce […]

Frances Kissling

Salon The Church Will Continue to Suffer

Father Andrew Greeley, sociologist and author of “Priests: A Calling in Crisis” Why did the new pope choose a name that only one pope in the last 100 years used? Cardinal Giacomo della Chiesa became Pope Benedict XV in 1914 and died in 1922. He did his best to prevent and then end the Great […]

Frances Kissling, et al

Catholics for Free Choice Uniting a Divided Church: Challenges for Pope Benedict XVI in the Next One Hundred Days

The election of Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, is a strong sign that dissension within the Roman Catholic church will continue. While the election of a new pope held out the promise of a new era for the church, the cardinal’s historic role as a disciplinarian means the church has maintained the […]

Elfriede Harth


Let’s face it: Anyone I would want to be pope is not going to get elected. I’m not even sure I want a pope. I spent my first 20 adult years looking for an unjust government I could overthrow without getting thrown in jail and finally found it in the Vatican. I’ve spent the last […]

Frances Kissling

New York Times Getting Proscriptions at the Pharmacy

To the Editor: Re ”Moralists at the Pharmacy” (editorial, April 3): The growing obeisance to the so-called conscience concerns of pharmacists who object to filling birth control prescriptions reveals a lack of respect for the conscience — and religious freedom — of women who believe that acting morally means making conscientious decisions about bringing children […]

Frances Kissling

American Prospect Forbid Me, Father

I spent the weekend watching Pat Robertson, Henry Kissinger, George W. Bush, and dozens of others laud the contributions of Pope John Paul II to the downfall of communism and the promotion of human rights; they hailed his clarion call to fight Third World poverty and his uncompromising commitment to respect the dignity of every […]

Frances Kissling

Salon A Divider, Not a Uniter

The charismatic Pope John Paul II chose not to engage all Catholics, and so leaves a tragic legacy of missed opportunity that has ultimately damaged the church. The death of friends, family and larger-than-life public persons is a time of great reflection — on the past, on our own lives and on the future. I […]

Frances Kissling

Christian Science Monitor ‘Moral Trickle Down’ and Intricacies of Abortion Debate

David Garrow is concerned about the direction of pro-choice discourse. He cites my work – which calls for public moral consideration of both women’s rights and fetal value – calling it risky for pro-choice groups. He prefers older messages, which he believes are more powerful, such as “every child a wanted child,” which stress the […]

Frances Kissling

The Nation Sex and the Clergy

Exit poll results indicating that 22 percent of voters ranked moral values as the most important factor in their support for a presidential candidate have occupied more than their fair share of media attention. While the religious right has seized on the results as a vindication of their opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights, […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Times Pro-choicer misunderstood

I was pleased to see coverage of my views as i outlined them article in Conscience magazine. My views lay out new ideas on balancing women’s rights and fetal value in both moral and legal terms (“Pro-choicers told to rethink,” Nation, Monday). Perceptions of those who are opposed to and in favor of the legality […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Post Courting the ‘Values Voters

Progressive male Christian leaders say that if the Democratic Party opened its doors and welcomed pro-life Democrats, it would work wonders among centrist evangelicals and Catholics [“Liberal Christians Challenge ‘Values Vote,’ ” Nov. 10]. What might actually work wonders would be some humility on the part of these clerics. If the nearly all-male club of […]

Frances Kissling

Wausau Daily Herald God Squad, Catholics Mistaken on Rape

A recent “God Squad” column published in the Wausau Daily Herald addressed the fears of a young woman about to enter college who sought advice on using birth control as a preventive measure to reduce the chance of pregnancy in the event that she is assaulted. According to a Bureau of Justice National Crime Victimization […]

Frances Kissling

Catholics for Free Choice Archie Bunker: Vatican Theologian

A gender analysis of the Vatican’s statement on “active collaboration” between men and women would show that it is the Vatican, not feminists, that fosters antagonism between men and women and diminishes the dignity of both. When I opened the link to the just released Vatican statement on relations between men and women, I passed […]

Frances Kissling

Catholics for Free Choice Some Reflections on Prayer Cards: What the Problem?

Recently, some anti-women’s rights groups and a few moderates in the Catholic community have expressed outrage that Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (an independent prochoice organization in Mexico that is part of Catholics for a Free Choice’s international network) has developed a prayer card for women who are considering or have had abortions. The […]

Frances Kissling

Newsday Hope for Church

To the Editor: The electoral season is upon us again, and in no place do we see more backroom politicking than in the diocesan chanceries around the country [“Bishops’ order debated,” News, May 25]. The article accurately describes the discomfort many feel when bishops use Communion as a political weapon against pro-choice Catholic politicians. Recent […]

Frances Kissling

San Francisco Chronicle Politicizing the Sacraments

There is something disturbing about the media watch on whether Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, will receive communion at Mass. The specter of paparazzi seeking photos of what most Catholics see as a private and sacred moment is unsettling. Yet even more disturbing than this media circus is […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Post Abortion, Politics and Faith

To the Editor: While it is understandable that John F. Kerry makes some church leaders uncomfortable, the source of that discomfort is political, not theological [“For Catholic Politicians, a Hard Line,” Outlook, April 11]. The bishops and the Vatican have limited legitimate canon law options for dealing with Catholics who disagree with church suggestions. It is […]

Frances Kissling

Irish Times Kerry and Communion

The situation vis a vis US senator and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and his eligibility to receive the sacrament of communion is slightly less contentious than depicted in Ian Kilroy’s report “Kerry defies prelates over communion” (The Irish Times, April 14th). In fact, neither the Archbishop of Boston nor the Cardinal of Washington, […]

Frances Kissling

Miami Herald Agency Deserves US Money and Help

We — a Muslim, a Jew and a Christian — sometimes see things differently, but not when it comes to saving women’s lives and expanding their rights and choices. As Americans, we have new evidence from China that could help the United States do just that. We hope that President Bush will consider the fresh […]

Nazir Khaja, Nancy Kipnis and Frances Kissling

National Catholic Reporter Word from Rome: Condom Criticism

Note: This piece by Frances Kissling appeared as part of John L. Allen, Jr.’s “Word from Rome” column in the National Catholic Reporter. Two weeks ago I carried an item about Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo’s comments to the BBC on condoms and their alleged defects in blocking transmission of HIV. The item brought this response […]

Frances Kissling

DIE WELT Das Geswissen katholischer Frauen

Es ist kein Geheimnis, dass die römisch-katholische Amtskirche die Abtreibung verurteilt: Ein Schwangerschaftsabbruch, auch wenn er dazu dient, das Leben der Frau zu retten, sei moralisch niemals gerechtfertigt und sollte niemals legal durchgeführt werden können. Genauso wenig ist es ein Geheimnis, dass die meisten Katholikinnen und Katholiken weltweit die offizielle Lehre der Kirche in Sachen […]

Elfriede Harth

Boston Globe Bush Cripples His AIDS Initiative

I was stunned and delighted when President George W. Bush announced in his State of the Union address that he planned a major commitment to fighting AIDS. A five-year, $15 billion program of treatment and care for those infected and even some modest support for condom education and distribution–it sounded like something that I, a […]

Frances Kissling


“For some women, reproductive choice means access to contraception and abortion to prevent unwanted births, a choice that is unavailable or insecure in much of the world. For other women choice means the opportunity to bear children, an option denied to millions by forced sterilization,population control policies, and state determination of family size.” — Estelle […]

Frances Kissling

ENTRE NOUS Upholding a Culture of Life

There is a tragic irony in the institutional Catholic church’s role in the world community of health care providers.While the institutional church is a major provider of health care around the world – especially to those living in impoverished communities – its policies contribute to serious health care problems, namely the spread of HIV/AIDS and […]

Frances Kissling

MS. NEWS Cardinals’ Sins, Clerical Crimes

Can there be anyone left who does not know that the Roman Catholic Church is in the throes of perhaps the greatest crisis of moral credibility it has faced in centuries? Thousands of articles in the U.S. press reported on thousands of cases of molestation of children and teens by Roman Catholic priests, including some […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Times Abstinence Advocates Should Take Note of Church Scandal

To the Editor: On April 3, you reported that Republicans plan to hold hearings touting the success of abstinence-only programs in persuading young girls to remain abstinent until marriage (“Initiative touts schooling to abstain,” Nation). While many reports have shown that such programs are not successful, the most vivid example of the failure of abstinence-only […]

Frances Kissling

Conscience Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise

As Conscience goes to press, the Catholic church is in the midst of a crisis that has profoundly eroded the moral credibility of church leaders. The case of a defrocked pedophile priest in the Archdiocese of Boston who abused more than 100 boys and young men over a 30-year period and the continuing cover-up by archdiocesan officials, […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Post Health Care for Zygotes

Now that the Department of Health and Human Services is prepared to insure fetuses as if they were persons from the moment of conception, it is obviously time for the Social Security Administration to change all our ages and use our conception dates as the starting point for eligibility for benefits and for the IRS […]

Frances Kissling

New York Times Catholics and Divorce

To the Editor: Challenging the idea that Pope John Paul II’s approach to divorced and remarried Roman Catholics has been compassionate are punishing facts (“John Paul Says Catholic Bar Must Refuse Divorce Cases,” news article, Jan. 29). The 1994 beatification of Elisabetta Canori Mora is illustrative. Mora was beatified because she chose to stay in […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Times Catholic Bishops Share Responsibility for Spread of HIV/AIDS

The response of several Roman Catholic officials to a Catholics for a Free Choice ad campaign about the dangers posed by the Catholic Church’s ban on condoms is somewhat surprising (“Pro-choice poster campaign targets bishops,” Dec. 24). One anti-choice leader, the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International, states that the “bishops . . . […]

Frances Kissling

Irish Times Debate on Abortion

Sir, So Mr Conor Lenihan TD thinks the vote on abortion is “a matter of huge personal conscience” (Dáil Report, November 9th). One could only wish that Mr Lenihan were as respectful of the consciences of individual women who are pregnant and need to decide, as a matter of conscience, what to do. It may […]

Frances Kissling

USA TODAY Church and State at the United Nations

“At most UN conferences, the Vatican is granted the full status enjoyed by member states, including not only a voice, but a vote.” There is increasing concern that the traditional barriers between church and state in the U.S. are under threat. Pres. Bush’s decision to set up a White House Office of Faith-Based and Community […]

Frances Kissling

New York Times Bishops’ Blind Spot

To the Editor: Re: “Nuts and Bolts vs. Holiness as the Bishops Meet in Rome” (news article, October 21): The world’s Roman Catholic bishops may have a month to spend discussing the relative urgency of modifying the chain of command in the church or calling the faithful to holiness; the world’s women, however, have more […]

Frances Kissling

JOURNAL OF MEDICAL ETHICS The Place for Individual Conscience

From a liberationist, feminist, and Catholic point of view, this article attempts to understand the decision of abortion. People are constantly testing their principles and values against the question of abortion. Advances in technology, the rise of communitarianism and the rejection of individualism, and the commodification of children are factors in the way in which […]

Frances Kissling

Ms. Magazine The Sins of the Fathers

A friend in the Sisters of Loretto told me after a trip to Ghana in the early 1990s that sisters there reported that priests forced them to have sex before they were allowed to receive grants from groups abroad. Many of us in the Catholic community had heard these kinds of stories before, but it […]

Frances Kissling

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Ambassador Not Consistent about Attacking Abortion

Ray Flynn’s attack on Seton Hall University for awarding an honorary degree to Dr. Dolores Cross was surprising (“Link to abortion group may put award in peril,” Metro, May 30). Flynn has one standard of behavior for Cross and another for himself. Flynn did not disassociate himself from the pro-choice administration of President Clinton. To […]

Frances Kissling

Newsday Is There a Choice?

Phyllis Clark is off the mark when she says you cannot be a practicing Catholic and be for choice [“Abortion Is Not a Choice,” Letters, April 26]. A few examples of practicing Catholics who are for choice include former Gov. Mario Cuomo, former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, and Sens. Patrick Leahy, Ted Kennedy, and […]

Frances Kissling

The Nation Bully in the Pulpit?

Ellen Willis is right but does not go far enough. Even without Bush’s faith-based initiatives the Catholic Church not only demanded but received exemption after exemption from providing the most unexceptional forms of reproductive health. No emergency contraception for women who have been raped. No voluntary postpartum sterilization for women who are having what they […]

Frances Kissling

ABOUT.COM The Catholic Church at the United Nations: Church or State?

The Vatican at the United Nations Around the world increasing scrutiny is being paid to the role the Vatican plays at the United Nations. While the Holy See-as it is called in diplomatic circles-does a lot of good work at the UN, when it comes to women’s rights, gay rights, reproductive rights and preventing the […]

David Nolan


  With the arrival of RU-486, those who favor legal abortion face some new challenges. One is the need to bring down the cost of abortion by RU-486. That an abortion primarily produced by pills will cost the same as a surgical abortion is troubling. Abortion providers justify this cost by noting that FDA-mandated procedure […]

Frances Kissling

Roll Call Bush’s ‘Culture of Life’ Double Talk

  Morton Kondracke, in “Counting Catholics, Parties Appeal to Two ‘Gospels’” (Oct. 30), said Bush Catholic adviser Deal Hudson is “pleased” with Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s (R) emphasis on compassionate conservatism as well as with Bush’s promise to restore a “culture of life” in America. “Culture of life” is papal talk for opposition to […]

Frances Kissling

Newsday Women’s Safety is Reason to Celebrate

Despite the protestations of Kathleen Gallagher of the New York State Catholic Conference, news that the Food and Drug Administration has approved RU-486, the medication that induces early abortion, is a welcome development for American women. The approval of RU-486 will also be welcomed by Catholic women, who have abortions at the same rate as […]

Frances Kissling

Choices The Ethics of Prochoice Advocacy

  With increasing opposition to family planning from various conservative forces, it is clear that those of us who are committed to reproductive health must become more thoughtful and engaged advocates. This commitment to advocacy will involve us in many new partnerships. Just as we have moved from a family planning model to a reproductive […]

Frances Kissling

New York Times Vatican’s Role at the UN

  To the Editor: An Oct. 9 front-page article about Rick A. Lazio’s debate with Hillary Rodham Clinton reports that he said the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League “wants to kick the Vatican out of the U.N.” The article says Naral wants “the Vatican’s role weakened at the U.N.” In fact, the “See […]

Frances Kissling

ZPG REPORTER Merger Emergency

  Imagine you are a poor pregnant woman in a remote area of Northern California. You already have as many children as you want-or can provide for-and decide that following the birth of this child, you want your tubes tied. This procedure, known as a tubal ligation, is the most popular form of birth control […]

Frances Kissling

MSNBC.COM Easing a Difficult Moral Choice

  A drug that allows early intervention simplifies the issue News that the FDA has just approved RU-486, the medication that induces early abortion, is a welcome development for American women. Most women, regardless of their religion or lack thereof, take abortion seriously and most certainly would prefer to prevent pregnancy rather than have an […]

Frances Kissling

Sunday Business Post ‘Punishing’ the Holy See

  Your article “Groups combine to oppose international anti-Vatican campaign” (August 27) misrepresents the motives of The “See Change” Campaign. We do not seek to “punish” the Holy See. We seek to ensure that all religions are treated equally at the UN and, in fact, we recognise the good work that the Holy See does […]

David Nolan

Sunday Business Post ‘Punishing’ the Holy See

  Your article “Groups combine to oppose international anti-Vatican campaign” (August 27) misrepresents the motives of The “See Change” Campaign. We do not seek to “punish” the Holy See. We seek to ensure that all religions are treated equally at the UN and, in fact, we recognise the good work that the Holy See does […]

David Nolan

Chicago Tribune Women’s Choices

  On the issue of conscience clauses, we think the Rev. Carlton Veazey (“Allowing reproductive choice,” Voice of the people, June 29) showed far more insight into the ethical dilemmas faced by both health care institutions and consumers of health-care services than either the June 15 editorial or the July 20 response from Bishop Edwin […]

Frances Kissling

Roll Call Catholic League Wrong about CFFC

  To the Editor: A letter by the Catholic League claims that Catholics for a Free Choice should not be characterized as a Catholic group (“CFFC Does Not Represent Catholics,” July 31). The League is wrong on all counts. We are indeed a group of Catholics. While not a membership organization, the vast majority of […]

Frances Kissling

Washington Times DC Council, Contraceptives and the Catholic Church

  A letter the Catholic League claims that Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) is “anti-Catholic.” (“D.C. Council, contraceptives and the Catholic Church,” Aug. 2). Therefore, a CFFC report that proves that insurance coverage for contraceptives is provided by many Catholic health plans across the country should not be cited or trusted in the current […]

Frances Kissling

MODERN HEALTHCARE Religion Shouldn’t Dictate Healthcare Services

  When Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George opposed an American Medical Association resolution that would have required Catholic hospitals that take federal money to provide sterilizations and other reproductive health services (“Matters of principle,” June 19, p. 6), you can be sure he did not present the viewpoint of many American Catholic women. A recent […]

Frances Kissling

New York Times Priests and Abortion

  To the Editor: Re “Priests’ Group to Focus on Abortion in Campaign” (news article, July 18): Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about Priests for Life is that it has so few members among the country’s Catholic priests. After nine years of organizing, the group has attracted only 6,000 of the nation’s almost […]

Frances Kissling

BELIEFNET Pro-Choice and Pro-Church

  Why I choose to fight for abortion rights from within the Catholic church-and why I’m not worried about excommunication threats. I’ve always been intrigued–and a bit amused–by conservative lay Catholics who periodically call for my excommunication or that of other Catholics who believe that abortion should be legal. Sometimes when I give a speech, […]

Frances Kissling

National Catholic Reporter Moral Agents

  I am sure that Demetria Martinez is well intentioned when she calls on the pro-life movement to advocate against “various forms of violence perpetrated against the unborn” (“Violence against women — a cause for pro-life activists,” April 21). The desire to find common ground among those along the spectrum of views from pro-choice to […]

Frances Kissling

National Catholic Reporter Misguided Teachings

I am concerned with Teresa Malcolm’s closing remark that “Abortion is illegal in Bolivia” (“Bolivian judge may face excommunication,” NCR, March 31). Readers might think that the judge’s legally sound decision to permit an abortion for the 12-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather was inappropriate. While abortion is illegal in most circumstances in Bolivia, […]

Serra Sippel

Religion News Service Is God a Republican?

Ever since Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush made his blundering trip to Bob Jones University, a bastion of anti-Catholic bias, Republicans have been falling all over themselves trying to prove their Catholic bona fides. In one of the most visible attempts to regain lost ground on the Catholic front, House Speaker Dennis Hastert reversed […]

Frances Kissling

AMERICA Free to Agree

James Martin, S.J., notes in his article “The Last Acceptable Prejudice?” (3/25) that “Catholics for a Free Choice…can be counted on to disagree with the church on almost any topic.” Not true. C.F.F.C. has agreed with the church that population control is immoral and is not the solution to environmental degradation or poverty; we disagreed […]

Frances Kissling

Choices ‘See Change’ Campaign Gathers Support; Irks Vatican

The Vatican’s attempts to obstruct general agreement on matters relating to reproductive health and choices have led to a campaign to change its privileged status at the UN, a campaign which is rapidly gaining strength. Senior Vatican spokesmen have been forced to respond to the ‘See Change’ campaign that aims to change the status of […]

The New York Times Violence Against Women

To the Editor: The readiness of some secular feminist leaders to absolve the world’s religions of responsibility for extreme violence against women is painful (“Unicef Is Fighting Violence Against Women,” news article, March 9). The problem with the sacred books and teachings of the world’s religions is that they include both texts supporting women’s dignity […]

Frances Kissling

Seattle Times Swedish Selling out Women in Seattle Hospital Deal

A March 1 news article reported on the elimination of abortion services at Swedish Hospital as a condition of joining forces with Providence Health System, a Catholic-run hospital (“Swedish will drop elective abortions to seal deal”). It noted that Swedish Hospital performs fewer than 50 abortions per year. Most likely, those abortions are for women […]

Frances Kissling

Conscience Ireland’s Newest Import

By Frances Kissling Winter 1999 – 2000 Emily Lyons is the face of abortion violence in America. A nurse, she was maimed and blinded in one eye by a bomb blast that shattered an Alabama abortion clinic in 1998, killing a policeman moonlighting as a security guard. Emily’s face, pockmarked by the nails in the […]

Frances Kissling

DAILY NATION (KENYA) Condoms: Was Bishop Serious?

  Bishop John Njue’s comment that the use of condoms is to blame for the Aids epidemic ravaging Africa (DN, Nov 2) illustrates the Catholic hierarchy’s continued insensitivity to scientific fact and human suffering. The effectiveness of condoms in preventing the spread of Aids is an undisputed fact. A major review of the foremost studies […]

Frances Kissling

Religion News Service The Catholic Church’s Achilles’ Heel

  Holding women and children hostage to the church’s repudiated positions on reproductive matters is an epic failure of compassion. Just after the Supreme Court recognized a woman’s right to choose abortion twenty-six years ago, the Pregnancy Aid Center opened in College Park, Maryland, a Washington, DC, suburb, to help women who didn’t want abortions […]

Frances Kissling

INSIGHT ON THE NEWS Is the UN Women’s Agenda Riding Roughshod over Religion?

Symposium with Diane Sabom and Frances Kissling Q: Is the U.N. women’s agenda riding roughshod over religion? Diane Sabom Sabom is an independent writer specializing in women’s issues and politics and represents a nongovernmental organization at the United Nations. Yes: Newly minted women’s rights are squeezing freedom of religion and conscience. For years lawyers and […]

Frances Kissling


  Trust women—even rape victims—to make childbearing decisions Bishop should acknowledge complexity of choice in Kosovo In a May 12 Counterpoint article in the Star Tribune, Archbishop Harry J. Flynn attempted to justify Vatican opposition to the provision of emergency Contraception to women refugees who have been raped in the Kosovar crisis. His argument was […]

Frances Kissling

USA TODAY The Vatican and Politics of Reproductive Health

  The leadership of the Roman Catholic Church is unable to acknowledge and trust that women will make good decisions about family planning, sterilization, and abortion. One of the most complex and important questions facing policymakers is the role of religious institutions in the formulation of public policy and law. The question most frequently arises […]

Frances Kissling

FREE INQUIRY The Case Against the Vatican: Guilty as Charged

  In 1993, the year before the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo began, the Vatican campaigned with a vengeance against the consensus taking shape around the United Nations conference. From Pope John Paul II down through the Roman Catholic hierarchy came charges that the conference represented evil itself. Indeed, the Vatican’s vision […]

Frances Kissling

Irish Times Allowing Leeway in Moral Choices

  It must be hard to be a bishop or priest today. So few teachings are blindly accepted any more by Catholics who are no longer satisfied with “Father says” as an answer to tough questions. Why can’t priests marry or women be priests or divorced Catholics establish new and loving marriages? In the absence […]

Frances Kissling

Irish Times Dr. Connell on Contraception

  Sir, Archbishop Connell’s analysis of the impact of contraception on the quality of family life would, if it came from anywhere other than the Roman Catholic church, be described as psychobabble or dismissed outright. Only a man who has not had to put food on the table, educate his children, or negotiate a fair […]

Frances Kissling

EARTH TIMES Religion: Getting Involved

  In the run-up to the International Conference on Population and Development, significant efforts were made among governments, the United Nations, and NGOs to find new solutions to the challenges at hand. Particular attention was paid to international women’s health organizations and advocates, whose criticisms of past population policies were certainly not integrated into theory […]

Frances Kissling

DALLAS MORNING NEWS Pope Coverage is Sexist

  Pope John Paul II is coming to the United States, and thus it is time for newspapers to do some soul-searching. How will they cover the visit? Will they follow past history and ignore women as sources of serious commentary? Or will they show they are truly committed to fairness and gender equity in […]

Frances Kissling

Religion News Service Women, Religion and Human Rights

  Concepts and our understanding of human rights have changed and expanded dramatically in the 50 years since 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights was set forth. Newly formulated human rights have evolved and been accepted by the international community. Moving beyond the specifics of political and civil rights we have come to understand that […]

Frances Kissling

Los Angeles Times For Catholics, It’s ‘Happy Martyrs’ Day’

  The beatification of two women who sacrificed for their children sends the message that submissiveness is what counts. As a feminist critic of the Vatican, I have at times harbored secret doubts that I am too hard on the leaders of my church, too hackneyed in my charges that hatred of women and fear […]

Frances Kissling

Los Angeles Times If War is ‘Just,’ So is Abortion

  A surprising sidebar to the Gulf War was the frequent invocation of the “just war” ethic—a once obscure set of principles defining the moral use of military force. Even President Bush applied the criteria in reassuring us that the United States was fighting a just war. And yet the architect of the theory, the […]

Frances Kissling

PEOPLE The Roman Catholic Church and Reproductive Choice

  Not all Catholics respect the present teaching of the Vatican on sexuality and contraception. Here, Frances Kissling, President of Catholics for a Free Choice, Washington, sums up the views of the opposition within the church. Contrary to popular opinion, nothing in the Roman Catholic church is ever simple. In no area of human values is […]

Frances Kissling
Catholics for Choice