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...]