Skip to main content
Toggle Banner
You can make an impact in the fight for reproductive freedom.

Statement from Jon O’Brien in Response to Cardinal Dolan’s Statement about Abortion in Good Faith Campaign

September 14, 2016

Catholics for Choice president Jon O’Brien issued the following statement reacting to Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s criticism of the Abortion in Good Faith campaign:

It should come as no surprise that Cardinal Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, does not like the Abortion in Good Faith Campaign that Catholics for Choice launched this week. For years, the bishops’ lobby in Washington, DC—of which Dolan is a member—has worked against public funding for abortion and against reproductive healthcare options for American people regardless of their faith. Whereas, we believe as Catholics that public funding for abortion is a matter of social justice. We also believe that increasing healthcare choices for all American citizens is critical, as opposed to denying freedom of conscience to women—especially to poor women.

When the bishops represent themselves to the body politic at a state or a federal level, they often do so behind closed doors. We are delighted that our campaign has already shone a spotlight on what the bishops say and do when they lobby against reproductive healthcare choices for Americans. We are heartened that our campaign has already surfaced some very uncomfortable truths for the Catholic hierarchy. Like the simple question: Who exactly do they represent? Ninety-nine percent of sexually active Catholic women have used a form of birth control that the bishops don’t like. Despite this, they claim to speak on behalf of Catholics when they fight against no-cost birth control as part of the Affordable Care Act. Catholic women have abortions at the same rate as those of other faiths and those of no faith, despite the bishops. Half of Catholic voters believe private‐ and publicly‐funded insurance programs should include abortion coverage whenever a woman and her doctor decide it is appropriate. Polling clearly shows that Catholics continue to believe in choice on abortion, as they have done for many years, despite the bishops complaining and campaigning.

The hierarchy’s teaching on abortion is not infallible. The Vatican’s 1973 “Declaration on Procured Abortion,” does not say when personhood begins. The bishops conveniently forget the primacy of conscience in Catholic teachings, including moral matters like abortion. Ignoring the truth does not make it go away. Catholics will continue, in good faith, to make responsible decisions for themselves and their families, even if it means that we must disagree with our bishops.

The question that our campaign poses for politicians: Are you allowing an unrepresentative hierarchy to hold sway over the healthcare decisions in this country? Do you value the more than 300 members of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, or the views and opinions of over 80 million Catholics in the US?

We think the choice is clear.

Editor’s note:

  • Abortion in Good Faith is a multi-year campaign dedicated to amplifying the voices of Catholics across the country who want abortion to be accessible and affordable for everyone. Ads appeared in both English and Spanish on Monday, in more than 20 national and local print publications, including Politico, The Nation, the Chicago-Sun Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Dallas Morning News and La Opinión.
  • For more information on public funding for abortion, read the issue on Public Funding for Abortion in Conscience magazine.