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Catholics for Choice Responds to Dangerous and Irresponsible Statements from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

March 12, 2021

WASHINGTON — Catholics for Choice, which uplifts and amplifies the voices of the majority of Catholics who believe in reproductive freedom, released a statement following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act by Congress and President Biden’s signing it into law. CFC expressed gratitude for lawmakers who supported the bill while criticizing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for their dangerous and irresponsible comments regarding the measure and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Catholics for Choice President Jamie L. Manson said:

“We are thankful to the House and Senate for passing President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act to provide much-needed relief for poor and vulnerable people who are suffering during this pandemic. This legislation contains many critically important provisions that will help families and vulnerable communities, including unemployment assistance, child and earned income tax credit enhancements, nutrition funding, vaccine distribution funding, health care funding, housing assistance, international assistance to regions devastated by COVID, and hunger, among other areas.

“We are grateful that Congress passed this legislation without caving to pressure from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and right-wing groups to sneak the Hyde Amendment into final passage, which would have denied pregnant people – particularly Black and Brown women, trans men and nonbinary people – access to life-affirming health care, including abortion care.

The bishops’ attempts to slip anti-choice provisions into the COVID relief law come on the heels of an outrageous statement last week where they expressed “moral concerns” about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and exhorted the faithful to choose the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead, should they have the option to do so. Several other U.S. bishops went so far as to call the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “morally compromised.” This directly contradicts medical and governmental guidance – which urges all Americans to take the first shot that’s available to them, as soon as they are eligible – and represents yet another attempt by the USCCB to meddle in public health, to the detriment of the American people.

“’Religious freedom’ means respect for all religions (and those with no religion),” said Manson. “It does not – and cannot ever – mean that one particular religious ideology is allowed to write its private beliefs into our civil law and force them upon others in this country who do not share those beliefs. As Catholics, we believe in respect for each individual’s conscience, and we believe that the guiding principle in health care should be social justice, especially for the most vulnerable.”

Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect, and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives.