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Catholics for a Free Choice Launches Campaign to place Catholic Americans’ Views on Contraception and Abortion Center Stage

March 8, 2007

WASHINGTON, DC— Prevention Not Prohibition, a provocative campaign launched today in the nation’s capital, highlights the fact that the majority of American Catholics support access to contraception and legal abortion, and support policies that prevent, rather than criminalize, abortion. To kick off the campaign, CFFC advertisements, “How to end the abortion wars” and “Nobody wants to need an abortion,” are appearing in Metro stations and on bus shelters around the capital, and will spread out across the country as state policy makers introduce policies that support pregnant women in the choices they make.

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, stated, “The advertisements articulate the views of the majority of American Catholics who do not want to see abortion criminalized, but want to see it less necessary. The campaign seeks to galvanize their support for proactive legislation that reduces the need for abortion and provides good options for women coping with an unintended pregnancy.”

“Two pieces of legislation on Capitol Hill—Prevention First and the Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act—are a step in the right direction,” O’Brien continued. “However, we believe that women and their families, especially those who are poor, need even more. They want policies that result in real action, not just talk. Prevention Not Prohibition aims to convert the talk in Washington, DC, into real life public policy.”

Despite years of campaigning by the bishops, 97% of Catholic women have used an artificial contraceptive method and Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as non-Catholics, there is clearly ample support for policies that reduce the need for abortion. The campaign identifies a number of opportunities for advocacy and improved policies. These include:

  • Ensuring the availability and promoting the use of safe, reliable and affordable contraception;
  • Securing health care for all, whether they are employed or not;
  • Promoting responsible sexuality education that provides accurate facts; and
  • Guaranteeing that parents have access to child care.

O’Brien noted, “Catholics and Catholic policymakers must speak for themselves and let it be known that they, like the majority of Americans, want policies that reduce the need for abortion. Providing the resources that enable women to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and the resources to help those who decide to continue their pregnancies, such as adequate prenatal care and childcare, is a matter of national priority.”

There are many elements to the Prevention Not Prohibition campaign. In addition to supporting those who choose abortion, it also supports policies that reduce the need for abortion through efforts to both prevent unintended pregnancy and help women with unintended pregnancies who choose not to have abortions. O’Brien continued, “Our first step will be to convince policymakers at all levels of government to introduce and fund initiatives that both promote access to and education about contraception and offer serious economic support to women who have unintended pregnancies. To that end, we are sponsoring a series of briefings on Capitol Hill this year that both outline the theological background that enables Catholics to support contraceptive policies and take the voices of Catholics in the pew into the corridors of political power.”

Catholics for a Free Choice has increased its activity at the state level, working with Catholics, policy makers and local groups in communities across the U.S. advocating for changes in the way we approach the real life reproductive health challenges in this country.

Notes to Editors:

  • Sexually active Catholic women above the age of 18 are just as likely (97%) to have used some form of contraception banned by the Catholic church as women in the general population (97%).
  • 85% of sexually active Catholic women report that they have had their partners use condoms during intercourse.
  • 78% sexually active Catholic women report having used birth control pills.
  • Even among married Catholic women who attend church every week, only 5% rely primarily on church-approved methods for preventing pregnancy.

[All above: National Survey of Family Growth, 2002]

  • Less than one-quarter (22%) of U.S. Catholics agree with the bishops’ position that abortion should be completely illegal.

[Belden Russonello & Stewart, 2004]

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