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Bishops’ Protest Does Not Speak for Catholics

April 15, 2013

The New York bishops’ conference, the lobbying arm of the Catholic hierarchy in the state, continues to argue that equal access to a comprehensive range of reproductive health services is not what Catholics want. The bishops have it all wrong. Their protest against abortion rights is a public demonstration about something that is a private decision.

Everyday Catholics in New York, the vast majority of the 7.4 million Catholics from every walk of life, understand that abortion can be a moral choice in a variety of situations. Catholics in large numbers believe that abortion should be legal and equally accessible to all. Catholics can and do support reproductive health access, including the right to choose an abortion. National data indicates that Catholic women access abortions at the same rate as other women, so undoubtedly the bishops are targeting many of their own flock with their campaign designed to shame and condemn. The majority of Catholics who support women’s religious and reproductive freedom are proud to do so and the bishops do not speak for us on this issue.

The bishops lobbying efforts do not reflect the totality of Catholic opinion, nor do they tower over New Yorkers’ beliefs about privacy, dignity and morality.

We expect those representing all New York in Albany to see past the stock-and-pillory treatment the bishops believe women deserve for exercising their legal right to reproductive healthcare. The majority of New York voters, including Catholics, respect women’s moral agency more than that. This is what New York’s elected officials need to know and remember. There are hundreds of bishops but millions of Catholic voters who believe in freedom of conscience and choice on abortion.