Catholic social justice doctrine teaches that caring for the poor and marginalized should be our first priority. Ideological battles about abortion and contraception access always inflict disproportionate harm on the economically disadvantaged, the powerless and people of color.
At Catholics for Choice, we believe that denying anyone reproductive health care of any kind is to deny them of their basic human rights. We work to improve access for everyone, particularly those who are marginalized.
Questions about Social Justice
We've compiled these talking points to help inform Catholic conversations about social justice.
As Catholics, we embrace seven key principles of social justice that serve as a guide to how we respond to those around us in need. The seven principles are:
- Life and Dignity of the Person
- Call for Family, Community and Participation
- Rights and Responsibility
- Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
- The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
- Care for God’s Creation
Reproductive justice moves beyond the binary pro-choice vs. pro-life debate and has three core beliefs: the right not to have a child; the right to have a child; and the right to nurture children in safe and healthy environments.
The framework of reproductive justice was developed in 1994 by 12 Black women in response to the Clinton administration’s proposed plan for universal health care. The women questioned the assumptions that were being made by those who developed the health care plan and whether they were really able to represent the needs of Black women.
Their core concern was this: When a person gets pregnant, whether planned or unplanned, the discussion is never limited to whether or not the pregnant person can get an abortion. All kinds of social justice issues come to the fore: workers’ rights, protection from domestic violence and abuse, immigration status, a clean and safe environment, and access to adequate education, health care and childcare. So they developed an ethical framework that they called reproductive justice that interweaves reproductive rights with social justice.
The values stated in Catholic social teaching share many strengths with the principles of reproductive justice: care for the vulnerable, access to education, the right to be protected from violence and the right to workplace protections and health care.
The preferential option for the poor is a radical idea from tradition of Catholic liberation theology that privileges the needs of the marginalized over all others. It states that the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable should not only be taken care of, they should receive better care than anyone else. Catholics for Choice believes that the preferential option for the poor should be applied to all aspects of medical care and public health.
Catholics for Choice believes unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. We recognize the deep interconnections between racism and attacks on reproductive freedom, so we are working as an organization toward pro-Blackness and toward justice and liberation for all Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color (BIPOC).
For centuries, white people have colonized and dominated Black bodies, particularly Black women’s bodies. Achieving true freedom for BIPOC, and for all women, therefore includes maintaining their sovereignty over their bodies and their pregnancies, having access to sexual education, having total autonomy over their own bodies and being able to control their own fertility.
Saying Black Lives Matter is no different from Catholics saying we have a preferential option for the poor. That is, God dwells with those who suffer most and we must take better care of them than we take of ourselves. If we can go to the border and care for brutalized immigrants, we must go to the protest line and fight for justice for Black people. Both communities are suffering from the same entrenched, racialized myth that BIPOC are not fully human.