Religion in Public Policy

Dear Planned Parenthood

Dear Planned Parenthood: Love Letters from Catholics features heartfelt messages thanking Planned Parenthood staff for the care they provide to women across the country. Read the letters.

Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ploumen visits Catholics for Choice to discuss #SheDecides

Catholics for Choice President Jon O’Brien met with Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, women’s rights advocate, and fellow Catholic Lilianne Ploumen today at the Catholics for Choice office. During the meeting, opportunities for further cooperation regarding access to safe abortion, contraceptives, and other women’s health priorities were discussed, as well as Minister Ploumen’s initiative “She Decides.” The Minister also convened with the Catholics for Choice staff, who thanked her for standing with the majority of Catholics who are prochoice and for her commitment to promoting women’s moral agency.

Can faith and freedom co-exist? When faith-based health providers and women’s needs clash

2017, 14 pp.
Faith-based health providers are a major component of health services delivery in many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. They receive millions of dollars annually from unilateral and bilateral aid agencies to deliver care. At the same time, they often use conservative interpretations of religious teachings to deny access to essential health care, including reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS prevention services. How can we balance the presence of faith-based providers against the rights and needs of women and other vulnerable populations to receive the care they need?

Read this article in Oxfam’s Gender and Development journal.

Development Aid: What You Need to Know

Catholics for Choice has produced a short movie to illustrate how faith-based organizations take taxpayer money to provide healthcare services to the neediest communities throughout the world, but sometimes pick and choose which services to offer and whom they will help.

Playing Hardball against Women’s Rights

Conscience Vol. XXXIV – No. 2 (2013) – pages 18 – 21 
Noted journalist Joanne Omang examines the history of the Holy See and considers what might be in store under Pope Francis.

Fatwas are Opinions

Conscience Vol. XXXIV – No. 2 (2013) – pages 28 – 32 
Marieme Helie Lucas explains what fatwas are, and more importantly, what they are not. She discusses the role the media has played in popularizing misunderstandings about fatwas, thereby strengthening fundamentalists’ agendas while downplaying other Muslim points of view.

At the Back of the Bus: Ultra-Orthodox Judaism and Women

Conscience Vol. XXXIV – No. 2 (2013) – pages 33 – 35
Dahlia Lithwick examines the worrying influence of ultra-Orthodox Jews on the lives of women, as in both Israel and the US, they are seeking to curtail women’s rights. Does the religious freedom of ultra-Orthodox communities trump women’s right to ride at the front of the bus?

The Catholic Church at the United Nations: Church or State?

2013, 28 pp.
“The Catholic Church at the United Nations: Church or State?” provides an in-depth examination of the Holy See’s questionable denomination as a state; the curious history of its acceptance into the UN; and the ongoing campaign by the Holy See to use its status at the UN to impose its minority views on the global population, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

US Bishops’ Roman Connection

Conscience Vol. XXXIII – No. 3 (2012) – page 14 – 18
Jodi Enda examines how Rome and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have conspired to clamp down on dissent from all sources—in the Girl Scouts and the convents, among politicians and the academy.

Resources for Rio+20

Catholics for Choice has produced two briefing papers for advocates and member state delegations that examine the Holy See’s role at the UN and what it means for the Rio+20 negotiations: The Vatican at Rio+20 – What’s At Stake? and Essential Airplane Reading for Rio+20.

Contraceptive security in challenging contexts: opposition from the Catholic hierarchy

2011, 4 pp.
This briefing paper, written by Catholics for Choice as one in a series of seven produced by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, reflects on the pressure that the Catholic hierarchy brings to bear on policymakers around the world and how policymakers should respond to the hierarchy’s lobbying on reproductive health issues.

Opposition Notes: A Primer on Opus Dei in Latin America

2011, 28 pp.
The latest edition of Opposition Notes examines the work of Opus Dei—one of the most conservative orders in the Catholic church—and the impact it has had on politics and reproductive rights throughout Latin America.

Catholics and Abortion: Notes on Canon Law No. 1

2010, 13 pp. 
From our popular Notes on Canon Law series, a brief and straightforward analysis of what the Catholic church’s canon law says about abortion and what it means for the rights of prochoice Catholics.

In Good Conscience

2010, 16 pp.
This pamphlet has been written to give a brief overview of some of the key themes in the debate on refusal/conscience clauses: how conscience clauses evolved; Catholic teachings on conscience; and how the concept of conscience has been manipulated, especially within the context of reproductive health and rights. We hope that it will be useful for those who have an interest in healthcare ethics, those who may be negotiating conscience clauses in their own institutions and states as well as for those who may be considering their own positions on conscience clauses.

De Buena Fe

2010, 24 pp.
En este folleto, Catholics for Choice ofrece una breve reseña de algunos de los temas principales del debate actual en América Latina, incluso la manera en que se ha manipulado el concepto de la conciencia en el contexto de la salud reproductiva y los derechos reproductivos.

A Voice from the Front Line

Conscience Vol. XXIX – No. 2 (2008)
Eileen Flockhart, a former member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, shares her experiences as prochoice legislator and Catholic. She opens up about attacks by pastors and churchgoers on issues ranging from emergency contraception to civil unions.

Religion & Politics in the New Europe

2008, 68 pp.
Catholics for Choice organized the Religion & Politics in the New Europe forum on November 27, 2007 which brought together more than 100 members of the European Parliament, experts, advocates and public policy professionals. Bringing together those on both sides of the debate, many for the first time, the forum was part of a continuing and wide-ranging dialogue about the relationship between our government institutions and organized religious influences. This report helps create a better understanding of what should be the appropriate role for religion in contemporary politics.

Secular and Security-Minded: The Catholic Voter in Summer 2008

2008, 16 pp.
Executive Summary [PDF] 
Full Poll[PDF]
More than 1000 Catholics who are likely voters in the 2008 presidential election, including an oversample of Latino Catholics, answered questions regarding the war in Iraq, national security, gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion, education, Medicaid and Social Security and the Catholic bishops’ denial of communion and involvement in politics. This is the third pre-presidential survey of Catholic voters that Catholics for Choice has conducted. The surveys conducted in October 2000 and June 2004 reflected Catholic voter preferences for President on election day.

A True Balancing Act Religion, reproduction and public policy

Conscience Vol. XXVIII – No. 4 (2007)
CFC president Jon O’Brien notes that the Catholic hierarchy has a long history of involving itself in debates over public policy. From advocating for the poor to opposing war and the death penalty, there is much good the church has done in this arena. However, in the area for which it is perhaps best known—debates over abortion, contraception and other “life issues”—the hierarchy’s advocacy has cost people their lives.

Playing with Fire

Conscience Vol. XXVIII – No. 4 (2007)
Jodi Enda examines the role of faith and religion in the 2008 presidential election.

Decoding the Latino Vote

Conscience Vol. XXVIII – No. 2 (2007)
Jane Burns analyzes the growing importance of the Latino vote.

Special Report on Poland: Exorcising the Past, Imperiling the Future

Conscience, European Supplement (2006)
Barbara Crossette traces the political history of Poland before and after the fall of communism, revealing the impact that different governments and political systems had on women’s rights and healthcare. She highlights many aspects of the debate, including the role of the Catholic hierarchy, illegal abortion, a prochoice but politically inactive public as well as Poland’s role on the international stage.

The Vatican and Reproductive Freedom

Conscience, European Supplement (2006)
Frances Kissling addressed a parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom about the Catholic hierarchy’s views on population growth and reproductive freedom, while highlighting the range of views that exist within the church.

Rights in the Church: Notes on Canon Law No. 2

2006, 16 pp. 
Can divorced and remarried Catholics receive communion? Can a prochoice Catholic politician be turned away from the altar? Do parishioners have a right to know how the pastor and bishop are spending their contributions? The second in CFC’s popular Notes on Canon Law series provides guidance on what rights policy makers and individuals have under the Catholic church’s canon law.

A Cautionary Tale

Conscience Vol. XXVI – No. 3 (2005)
Frances Kissling asks, “Has progressive religion moved far enough away from patriarchy to do women and democracy much good?”


Conscience Vol. XXV – No. 3 (2004)
The Holy See backs off from its claim for full membership of the UN, settling for the same rights already held by Palestine.

NGO Shadow Reports on States Parties to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

The View from Mainstream America: The Catholic Vote in 2004

2004, 70 pp. 

Full poll [PDF]

Executive Summary [PDF]

The largest poll of American Catholic attitudes and positions on key election issues in 2004. More than 2200 Catholics, including an oversample of Hispanics, answered questions regarding the war in Iraq, national security, gay marriage, stem cell research, abortion, education, Medicaid and Social Security and the Catholic bishops’ denial of communion and involvement in politics.

The United Nations Population Fund in China: A Catalyst for Change

2003, 55 pp. 
In 2003, CFC sent an interfaith delegation to China to investigate claims that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was participating in coercive practices regarding reproductive health choices. This report details their findings and makes the case that not only is UNFPA not participating in coercion, but in counties where there is a UNFPA presence, women’s reproductive health and freedom has dramatically improved.

Religion and Public Policy at the UN

2002, 70 pp.
A comprehensive report based on research, case studies and analysis by the Religion Counts project to make clear the role of religion at the United Nations and its world forums.

The Holy See and the Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Shadow Report

2002, 46 pp.
After CFC presented a preliminary report on the worldwide problem of sexual abuse of children and adolescents by Catholic clergy and religious to the Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UN, the Committee invited CFC to develop this report to details the Holy See’s compliance as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report delineates how the Holy See is skirting the Convention and what action steps need to be taken immediately. See also the executive summary.

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