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Global poll and report shows poorest communties are hurt by Vatican ban on birth control

July 16, 2018

Washington, DC – Today Catholics for Choice launched a new report and global poll—in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican’s ban on contraception on July 25—detailing half a century of hurt this policy has caused for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.

While Humanae Vitae, the Vatican’s ban on contraception, has shaped policy on birth control and HIV/AIDS prevention globally, many people are not aware of this policy, know its influence or the damage it has caused.

“Many Catholics choose to ignore the Vatican’s ban on birth control, but the world’s poorest people do not have that luxury,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “For half a century, the Catholic hierarchy has blocked funding and access to contraception for family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention, with deadly impacts for the most vulnerable globally.”

Humanae Vitae: the Damage Done includes a wealth of new information about Catholic attitudes globally towards the ban and its policy consequences, including:

  • A new report detailing the political battle that led to the Vatican ban on birth control despite resistance from its own birth control commission.
  • Polls from the United States, Colombia, Ireland, Kenya and the Philippines showing that the ban is neither followed nor supported by Catholics. For instance, 91 percent of Irish Catholics oppose the ban and in the Philippines only 9 percent have heard of it. Catholics in all five countries widely accept the use of birth control.
  • The ban has impacted the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ efforts to block birth control coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act in the United States.

The ban’s damning impact on the world’s most vulnerable people. The Catholic hierarchy has lobbied so that faith-based organizations do not have to provide condoms for HIV/AIDS prevention and pressures countries that receive foreign assistance to deny birth control and condoms to their citizens. This has led to persistently high rates of unmet need for family planning in countries where the bishops hold sway over policy.