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You can make an impact in the fight for reproductive freedom.

Joint Statement by Frances Kissling, President of Catholics for Free Choice, USA and María Mejía, Director of Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Mexico

June 15, 2001

Dublin, IrelandThe plight of Irish women seeking safe and legal abortions is deplorable. To be required to leave one’s country, to be unable to seek medical care from one’s own physician, to be denied the advice and companionship of one’s loved ones and even spiritual advisors at the time one makes one of the most critical moral decisions in a woman’s life is sad.

The plight of women in the developing world, especially in Latin America, is even more of a tragedy.  Here, women are forced to seek unsafe, illegal abortions, even when they are raped or victims of incest.

The message a country sends to women when abortion is illegal in most, if not all, circumstances is: we don’t trust women to make good decisions about pregnancy.

The message the Catholic church sends when it opposes even the most moderate laws permitting abortion in cases where women’s lives and health are threatened is that women are not moral adults and that the consciences of legislators can be substituted for the consciences of women.

The answer to illegal abortion and the subordination of women’s conscience by the Catholic church is not, in the long term, abortion in international waters. It is the legalization of abortion by the Irish state and the recognition and respect for women’s consciences long denied by the Irish and international Catholic church.

Until that time, people of faith and people of conscience must do everything possible to lift the spirits and esteem of women who suffer because abortion is illegal. We must do everything possible to save the lives of the tens of thousands of women who die each year from botched illegal abortions.

We applaud Women on Waves, which seeks to save women’s lives and lift their spirits. They are in the best tradition of the church we love: risk takers, storytellers, justice seekers, and, in this case, casting their nets for women’s lives.