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Catholics to US Bishops: Stop the Attacks on Planned Parenthood

February 16, 2011

Catholics for Choice is deeply ashamed that one of the groups at the forefront of the continued attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Time and again we have seen US bishops, individually and collectively, denounce the excellent work done by these clinics and their staff.

Today’s attempt in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood is part of a vicious, deceptive smear to destroy an organization that plays a vital role in providing basic health services to millions of Americans.

PPFA clinics use federal funds to reach the poor and marginalized. They play a particularly important role given the current economic situation that has hit other services dramatically. These clinics are often the first line of defense for women and men who would not otherwise be able to access reproductive health services in their communities. In addition, the clinics provide vital information about avoiding sexually transmitted diseases as well as assisting women who want to be pregnant.

The US bishops have failed to convince Catholics in the pews to support the bishops’ complete opposition to contraception and abortion. The bishops’ ongoing attacks on PPFA clinics are another way of enforcing their wishes on all Americans, Catholic or not.

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said, “The Catholic hierarchy’s rhetoric is empty—as witnessed recently by Archbishop Tim Dolan in New York City. Dolan railed against the city’s abortion rate, while doing nothing to provide people with the means to reduce the need for abortion apart from offering diapers and booties to women who are pregnant.

“The mindset of the bishops is still firmly in the pelvic zone. They have consistently failed to practice what they preach about supporting policies that reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and the need for abortion. Instead, they have set on a course to destroy one of our most valuable allies in the battle to do this. In so doing, they are insulting all women facing an unplanned pregnancy or seeking to avoid one.”

The bishops recognize that PPFA clinics provide prenatal counseling, emergency contraception for women who have been sexually assaulted and condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. Yet their obsession with making contraception and abortion unavailable in this country means they would deny these critical, even life-saving services to all the men and women that PPFA clinics help.

We call on Catholics all across the US to contact their legislators today and urge them to oppose efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and Title X. The message is simple: the US bishops do not speak for Catholics on this issue. Catholics support access to the full range of reproductive health services and use them at the same rates as do other women in the United States.