Respect Life and the Truth on Respect Life Sunday
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement on Respect Life Sunday:
“This Sunday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops holds its annual Respect Life Sunday. On this occasion, we would like to encourage the US bishops to also respect the truth. A recent publication by the USCCB, a brochure entitled Contraception: The Fine Print, and recent polls on healthcare reform prove that the bishops’ desire to promote their own views on reproductive health leads them to play fast and loose with the truth.
“The erroneous claims in the brochure are too many to name, however, a few of the more egregious errors are worth mentioning. Having failed to convince Catholics that using contraception is wrong (97 percent of sexually active Catholic women use a method of contraception banned by the hierarchy), the brochure uses the all-too-common tactic of fear-mongering to drive the bishops’ message. It states that contraception contributes to unintended pregnancies and new cases of sexually transmitted infections, when scientific, peer-reviewed studies have found contraception to do quite the opposite. On HIV prevention alone, the Centers for Disease Control marks condom use as a cornerstone of prevention, noting that condom use—while not 100 percent effective—can go a long way to prevent the transmission of STIs.
“Instead of using contraception, the brochure suggests only natural family planning for married couples and abstinence for single people. While we believe that people who choose these options should be able to do so freely and that they can work for some, we also recognize that abstinence and NFP don’t suit everybody. On top of that, NFP does not have nearly as good of a track record as the brochure claims. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, even those who use NFP perfectly experience a nine percent failure rate, 8.7 percent more than someone who uses the pill perfectly.
“The bishops have used similar tactics in their interventions into the debate around healthcare reform. The bishops used leading questions they inserted into a recent omnibus poll (which sampled all voters, not just Catholics), to claim that Americans did not want abortion coverage in their healthcare. However, a Catholics for Choice poll, which asked Catholics what they thought, found that a strong majority of Catholic voters support health insurance coverage for abortions in many circumstances.
“CFC’s poll found that most Catholics support health insurance coverage for abortion—whether government-run or private—when a pregnancy poses a threat to the life of a woman (84 percent), when a pregnancy is due to rape or incest (76 percent), when a pregnancy poses long-term health risks for the woman (73 percent) or when test results show a fetus has a severe abnormal condition (66 percent). Half of Catholics think that the plan should cover abortion whenever a woman and her doctor decide it is appropriate (50 percent support and 50 percent oppose). Click here for the full poll.
“Respecting life is about respecting the right of men and women to make moral decisions about their own lives. It’s about providing people with accurate information about contraception so they can choose the best options for themselves and their families. It’s about listening to your own constituency and understanding their needs. It’s about respecting the whole truth not just the world view of the 300 or so bishops in the United States. That’s the kind of “respecting life” that we’ll be doing this Sunday. We hope the bishops will join us.”