The Connection Between Catholicism and Feminism

Feminist Conversations is a regular series here at Feminists For Choice. We spotlight feminists to find out what feminism means to them. Today I’m talking to Meghan Smith, who integrates Catholic for Choice’s US policy activities and advocacy throughout the country by fostering relationships with collegial organizations and compiling legislative and policy analyses. She develops educational materials outlining CFC’s unique perspective on issues of reproductive health and right,s and engages in other efforts supporting CFC’s mission at the state level. Ms. Smith holds a bachelor of arts degree in English and Creative Writing from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.

1. When was Catholics for Choice founded, and what was the motivation for starting the organization?
Catholics for Choice is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. CFC was founded in 1973, the same year as the Roe v Wade decision, to serve as a voice for the majority of Catholics, who believe that our faith tradition supports every woman’s moral agency and right to follow her own conscience when making decisions about her reproductive health. We’ve a long and storied history, but, as a global movement, Catholics for Choice has worked internationally and throughout the United States to raise the voices of Catholics who disagree with the Vatican and who support access to safe, legal reproductive healthcare services for themselves and their neighbors.

2. What are some of the stereotypes that you feel people have about the Catholic Church’s position on abortion? Why do you feel those stereotypes exist?
It is certainly true that some people think that the opinions of the Catholic hierarchy represent the opinions of all Catholics. However, that is not the case at all. There are more than one billion Catholics around the world and almost 70 million here in the United States. The Catholic Church includes all of us, not just our bishops and the Vatican—who interpret Catholic teachings very narrowly. When it comes to reproductive health, people on both sides of the issue sometimes wrongly assume that all Catholics are anti-choice, or that you cannot be a pro-choice Catholic. In truth, the majority of Catholics are pro-choice not in spite of our faith, but because of it. Catholic women use birth control and have abortions at rates similar to women from other religions and no religion, and Catholics as a whole support access to those services for ourselves and our neighbors.
[Read more...]

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...]

U.S. Catholic Bishops Announce Plans to Expand Spiritual Post-Abortion Counseling

At the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday, officials announced plans to expand Project Rachel, the post-abortion “healing” ministry of the Catholic Church. Despite a comprehensive study by the American Psychological Association in 2008 providing evidence to the contrary, Project Rachel asserts that women suffer psychological implications post-abortion. Reuters reports:

The move came a day after the bishops said religious freedom had been whittled away by same-sex marriage, abortion and healthcare legislation, and vowed to ramp up efforts to protect it.

Officials at the annual meeting said two new pilot projects based in Boston and Washington would train priests in building more Project Rachel ministries around the country.

[Read more...]

Vatican Family Values

As my people like to say, there is chutzpah, and then there is chutzpah. And if you are Michele Bachmann there is even chitzpah. 

But this needs a bigger word. Probably in Italian. With an issimo on the end.

Don’t get me wrong. I like my Vatican predictable. So I wasn’t surprised when the Catholic Church came out to condemn the new mandatory sex ed classes in New York City. That’s what the Church does. Like the sun rises each morning and sets each night, the Church condemns.

Likewise, I’m not surprised that the Church didn’t pass up the opportunity to kick the condemnation up a notch. New York is only the biggest city in the world. Why not needle “the State” and “public institutions in the West” for their “magical trust in the effectiveness of sex education?” [Read more...]

What I think about the Pope’s condom comments

As you probably know by now, the word is that a new book about Pope Benedict coming out next week will include comments he made acknowledging the efficacy of condoms in preventing the spread of HIV. The media is having a hay day with the story, and the world is amazed that the leader of the Catholic Church has the ability to tell the truth to his millions of followers.

I guess I am a bit confused about all the excitement; in fact the statements raise more questions for me than they answer. Here are just a few of the thoughts from me, a non-Catholic woman who cares about the health of her community:

First of all, did I hear correctly or do the Pope’s comments state that condoms are acceptable if used by male prostitutes? Am I missing something here, or are there also quite a few woman in this world who are also sex workers?

[Read more...]

The Battle Continues for Reproductive Health in the Philippines

In the fifth legislative attempt since 1998, a reproductive health bill will be presented before the Congressional Committee of Population and Family Relations in less than a week, in hopes that the Philippines will finally have a national reproductive health bill in place. A plethora of advocates for reproductive rights have been battling it out with the Catholic church for nearly 15 years over this particular legislation. Thus far, the Catholic church seems to be winning.

The bill, which proposes national funding for, and access to, reproductive healthcare services and products like birth control pills and condoms, has stalled in legislative debate for close to 15 years.

The Catholic Church, which holds sway over at least 80 percent of the population identified as Catholic, remains strongly opposed to the bill, considering all modern forms of contraception abortifacients.

The bankrupt ideologies of the Catholic Church are standing between women and basic health care services. Denying women access to family planning and reproductive health care not only negatively impacts women’s lives, it affects the health of the entire community. Roughly 32% of the population lives on less than a dollar a day in the Philippines, and the lack of comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care services significantly exacerbates that number. [Read more...]

Friday News Roundup

Temporary Restraining Order Under Effect for Louisiana Abortion Laws. RH Reality Check.

New film explores the struggle for women to be ordained in the Catholic Church. Pink Smoke Over the Vatican.

Why Are We Often Terrified of Our Own Sexuality? Alternet.

What It’s Like to Have an Abortion in Texas: TV Shows Finally Grappling with Realities Women Face. Alternet.

Sex Facts to Bust Out at Tonight’s Party. The Frisky.

Nunsense…Below the Surface of the Sister Margaret McBride’s Excommunication

Image from NPR

So, I generally I write about sex and sexuality education topics, but I’m switching it up this post. As soon as the excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride hit the news several friends sent me links, but only in the last couple of days have I gotten to what I think most disturbs me about the instantaneous decision of a male Bishop to “immediately excommunicate” this nun. [Read more...]

Monday Click List

mouse_click_270x270Feminist Books for Five-Year-Olds – The Guardian
One Family’s Struggle With Abortion & the Catholic Church – Truthout
We’re Pro-Choice Because We Have a Vision – Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
An Abortion Mission – Abortioneers

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...]