If Catholics support life so much, where were they when Troy Davis died?

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Saira Khan, a Pakistani-American woman who is vehemently pro-choice. She currently works in publishing but dedicates her free time to social commentary on her personal blog. Saira graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and hopes to pursue a Master’s in Journalism.

Over the past few weeks, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has made it very clear that they do not support the Obama Administration’s recent birth control mandate. Their main argument against it is that it violates their right to religious freedom. In regard to this notion, journalist Dante Atkins asks: “Where Were the Catholic Bishops when Troy Davis Died?,” referring to the recent execution of the man millions believe to have been wrongfully accused.

Anti-abortion Catholics and the bishops in question subscribe to the belief that all life is sacred. They don’t believe in birth control and most definitely don’t believe in abortions. More so, the Catholic Church officially opposes capital punishment. Atkins adds,

“This doctrine is in the same vein as those opposing abortion, birth control, and physician-assisted suicide: church doctrine dictates that life begins at conception and is a gift from God. Consequently, it is beyond the scope of any soul, no matter how high the earthly authority, to terminate a human life. It does not matter if it is legal, and it does not matter if the rationale is to relieve suffering: the taking of life is God’s department, not ours.”

[Read more...]

Merging the Pro-Choice and Faith Communities

I attended a workshop at the 2011 National Network of Abortion Funds organizing summit that addressed how to reach out to faith communities. The workshop focused specifically on Christian traditions, since there is strong support for reproductive justice within Judaism. Although Islamic beliefs were briefly discussed in the Q&A period, it was not the main focus of the discussion. As a person of faith myself, I got a lot out of the workshop and was so glad to hear different Christian perspectives on the topic of reproductive rights.

The Catholic Point of View
Meghan Smith of Catholics for Choice gave a summary of Catholic beliefs surrounding birth control and abortion. As Smith pointed out, it is important to understand the Catholic point of view because there are currently more than 68 million Catholics in the United States, and more than 1 billion Catholics globally. Although the Catholic hierarchy has stated its opposition to birth control and abortion, the majority of Catholic parishioners generally disagree with the hierarchy on reproductive rights issues. For example, a recent survey of active Catholics found that 98% of Catholic women use some form of birth control. Additionally, only 14% of Catholics believe that abortion should be illegal. Consequently, we should not confuse the voices of those who are in power as being representative of the Catholic community itself.

For Catholics, an individuals’ conscience is the ultimate arbiter on the morality of all decisions. If a woman contemplates the decision to obtain an abortion and feels that it is right for her, that is the most important thing to consider. Since Catholicism has an emphasis on improving the lives of the poor, discussions of faith and reproductive justice must include discussions of economic equality.  [Read more...]

New poll reveals interesting data about Catholics and choice.

religion_contraceptionI 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. [Read more...]

Tuesday News Roundup

mouse-clickIs a Personhood Statute Coming to a State Near You? – LA Times
Abstinence-Only Violates the First Amendment – RH Reality Check
Dr. Susan Wicklund on Native American Women & Reproductive Health Care – Blog For Choice
Google Will No Longer Accept Pro-Choice Ads – Women’s Rights @ Change.org
The Conversation on Race That Most Americans Won’t Have – Pam’s House Blend
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer – Susan G. Komen Foundation
Is Fear of Population Control Trumping Green Solutions? – RH Reality Check
Will Portugal Legalize Same-Sex Marriage? – Gay Rights @ Change.org
35 Catholic Leaders Support Repeal of DOMA – Catholic.net

Belmont Abbey College Refuses to Provide Contraceptives

The Belmont Abbey College administration is refusing to provide contraceptives to female Belmont_Abbey_collegeemployees. Although health care needs are covered through the campus health insurance, women are being denied access to preventative reproductive care. Of course I am not all that surprised considering the religious affiliation of this school. Apparently the Catholic belief of this particularly college campus is that women should be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has deemed these actions as a violation of discrimination laws because the school’s employee health insurance plan lacks coverage for contraception. An official letter was sent to the school, and recieved the following response from Mr. Thierfelder on the school web site.

“Belmont Abbey College rejects the notion that by following the moral teachings of the Catholic Church we are discriminating against anyone. We are simply and honestly exercising the freedom of religion that is protected by the Constitution.” [Read more...]

Monday News Roundup

Oh, boy! Talk about over-indulging on hot dogs and popsicles over the weekend. Hope ya’ll had a nice holiday. Here are some hawt links to get your day started off right.

Top 10 Reasons Why the BMI is Bogus – NPR
Catholic Cardinals Praise Obama’s “Measured Approach” on Abortion – Catholic News
Some Doctors Are Opposing the Appeal of Bush-Era Anti-Abortion Regulations – NPR
Scott Roeder Advocates Anti-Abortion Tactics From His Jail Cell – New York Times
HHS Proposes to Lift HIV Travel & Immigration Ban – Feminist Daily News
Bailout, Sarah Palin Style – Washington Post
Sarah Palin’s Lawyer Threatens to Sue Bloggers & Media For Character Defamation – Tennessee Guerrilla Women

Speaking of Sarah Palin, there’s a video after the jump of her telling Hillary Clinton to stop whining about media attacks. [Read more...]

Catholics and Abortion: The Sotomayor Redux

ALeqM5jAg0vldKr1Es7aUO-AF9tVElLT5wI saw a bumper sticker at the grocery store yesterday that really burned my biscuits. It said, “You can’t be Catholic and Pro-Choice.” Ever the activist, I left a note on the car that said, “Yes you can!” I’m pretty sure the dude saw me as he was walking towards his car. I hope he did. The note wasn’t in the parking lot when I left. So he obviously read it.

The Pope doesn’t think that you can be Catholic and pro-choice. In fact, he told Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday that she needed to get in line with the Catholic Church. What a way to greet a visitor, right?

Pelosi met a storm of criticism from conservative Catholics in August when she told a talk show that the question of exactly when life begins “shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose.”

She said when life began was still “an issue of controversy” in the Church and that “God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions.”

[Read more...]

Will Sotomayor’s Religion Influence Her Supreme Court Decisions?

ap_sotomayor_090528_mnSupreme Court hopeful Sonia Sotomayor may be the first Latina to be nominated to the high court, but she’s certainly not the first Catholic. Five other justices are Catholic – Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice John Roberts. In the history of the Supreme Court there have been a total of 11 out of 110 justices who have been Catholic. It’s hard to say how much influence a person’s religion has on their decision making process, but it certainly poses an interesting question for pro-choice advocates who are concerned about Sotomayor’s record on abortion.

Tom Goldstein at SCOTUS Blog predicts that Sotomayor’s nomination is pretty much a done deal. In his opinion, Sotomayor is unlikely to receive the same kind of grueling confirmation hearing that Justices Roberts and Scalia received when the Democrats were in the minority.

The phase of defining a nominee in the public’s eye now lasts around forty-eight hours. In that time Harriet Miers was pretty much done – finished. By this point, there has been a huge amount of press coverage and opponents have had the opportunity to make their case. It’s a shockingly short period (unfortunately so), but it reflects (a) the ready availability of research materials, and (b) the rapid turn-over of news cycles. [Read more...]