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Catholic Leader Applauds Philadelphia Resolution on Reproductive Healthcare

February 15, 2013

“The Board of Health’s resolution supporting comprehensive reproductive healthcare is one of the most sensible public policy statements we’ve seen in some time,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, about the Philadelphia Board of Health action Thursday. “Recent public policy proposals have been used to put a stranglehold on reproductive healthcare access, but these local officials have sent a different message.

“The members of the Philadelphia Board of Health have clearly demonstrated respect for women, their health and their moral autonomy. In too many cases, we have seen policymakers step in to substitute their judgment for women’s, especially when it comes to women who rely on publicly supported healthcare. For women who utilize safety-net programs, coverage for family planning or abortion is thin or nonexistent. This leaves women exposed to the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy or an unfunded abortion. There are too many barriers to reproductive healthcare at every turn.

“Low-income women are particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of politics, but the same can be said of all women’s access to reproductive healthcare. That should concern all of us. Catholics, and there are more than 1.4 million in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, believe that each individual already has what she needs to make these healthcare decisions—a conscience. Government should assist, not hinder, a woman’s ability to act on her decision.

“Catholic support for women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health was illustrated in a 2009 poll examining Catholic voters’ opinions in several key Pennsylvania districts. In Allegheny County, for instance, 78 percent of Catholic voters believed government-subsidized health plans should cover contraception, while 59 percent felt that such plans should cover abortion care. The same survey also showed that Catholic voters are three times more likely to think less of an elected representative who votes to make women’s access to abortion more difficult under her insurance. And the data abounds about Catholics’ disapproval of bishops who try to speak for them in the public square.

“The Philadelphia Board of Health has unequivocally stated that women are best placed to decide what reproductive healthcare they need. Their decisions shouldn’t be blocked by their bosses, the bishops or the government. Catholics for Choice agrees.”

Read the Philadelphia Board of Health resolution here.