I had the pleasure of participating in a conference call with Catholics for Choice yesterday morning to hear about the release of a recent poll the organization conducted about Catholic voters and their opinions on health care reform and reproductive health care coverage.
923 Catholic voters, selected randomly, participated in the poll, and 84% of participants attend church regularly.
Some of the more interesting results included:
- Catholics were completely split on the question of whether an abortion should be covered whenever a woman and her doctor feel it appropriate, with 50% in favor and 50% opposed.
- However, participants felt an abortion should be covered when a pregnancy threatens the life of a woman (84%), when a pregnancy was a result of rape or incest (76%), when a pregnancy poses long-term health problems for the woman (73%), and when any test shows the fetus has an seriously abnormal condition (66%).
- Catholic voters do not believe abortion coverage should cause Catholics to oppose health care reform. 68% do not believe that as a Catholic, you should oppose a health care plan because it includes coverage for abortion.
- In fact, 68% also disapproved of American Catholic bishops taking the position that Catholics should oppose a health care plan that covers abortions.
I personally was not surprised by the data because I have long suspected that the general Catholic population in the U.S. is more moderate or progressive than their leadership, or even their own reputation.
That being said, the one result that did surprise me was that only 51% of those polled believed that condoms should be paid for by the government. It appears this is one place where the leadership has had a strong influence.
I suppose to me the idea of “universal condom coverage” just makes too much sense for so many people to oppose.
Last week I wrote about the “Open Letter from Religious Leaders to Members of Congress Supporting Inclusion of Abortion Services in Health Care Reform” published by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights. The President of Catholics for Choice, Jon O’Brien, was among the over 70 signers of the letter.
The Planned Parenthood Clergy Board, comprised of clergy members from across the country, published a similar statement this summer. While reading over one of their newsletters recently, I learned what I am sure is a little known fact: the U.S. first abortion clinic, opened in 1973, was opened by a clergy. You can read the entire story in “Sacred Work: Planned Parenthood and its Clergy Alliances”.
I am curious to see the impact the voices of dedicated clergy members and reports such as the one conducted by Catholics for Choice will have on the general public’s perception of people of faith and their views on reproductive rights. Why should we allow evangelical Christians control this debate when they represent such a small number of people of faith?
You can read more about the Catholics for Choice poll at www.catholicsforchoice.org
Janice is a Virtual Assistant, aspiring doula, and long-time feminist activist with a passion for women's history, nonfiction, nature, and wearing flowers in her hair. She is the Founder of The Feminist's Guide, a women's history travel website, which can be found at www.thefeministguide.com.