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Vol. XXXVII - No. 1
Read Conscience online.


Press Release

Catholics Agree: Real Religious Liberty Means Do No Harm

18 May 2016 - Catholics for Choice joined some 40 organizations voicing their support for the Do No Harm Act, announced today by Representatives Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA). The Do No Harm Act would amend the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) to protect the religious, civil and conscience-based rights of individuals.

Press Release

Statement by Jon O'Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, on Zubik v. Burwell Decision

16 May 2016 - Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following response to the Supreme Court's disappointing decision in Zubik v. Burwell.


Can Faith and Freedom Co-Exist?

Religious freedom has become a contentious issue in the United States. This year, political candidates and religious groups have appropriated the term “religious freedom” to use as license to discriminate against those who hold different values and moral viewpoints. During our one-day forum at the European Parliament, “Religion, Human Rights and a Secular Europe: Can Faith and Freedom Co-exist?” policymakers, journalists, activists and leaders of NGOs discussed the most pressing facets about religious freedom and the extreme religious lobby’s escalating demands. What role should religion play in a secular state? This issue explores that question.



Press Release

No One Is Practicing What the Catholic Hierarchy Preaches

8 April 2016 - The release of Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love) today speaks to Catholicism’s greatest secret: there is an immense chasm between church policy and what everyday Catholics practice. The law says one thing, but Catholics the world over behave according to their conscience. Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice responds.

Letters & Op-eds

Religious Liberty and the Big Business of Catholic Nonprofits

The Catholic bishops and their allies claim the Affordable Care Act’s no-cost birth control benefit violates its religious freedom. There is something a little more worldly at stake. Catholics for Choice president, Jon O’Brien, analyzes the dollars and cents behind the Catholic hierarchy’s challenge in Zubik v. Burwell.

Religious Freedom under Siege: Why Zubik v. Burwell Matters

On March 23, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Zubik v. Burwell, the latest challenge to the no-cost birth control benefit for employees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Zubik is a consolidation of seven cases brought by nonprofit religious organizations and dioceses pushing for more exemptions after the disastrous Hobby Lobby v. Burwell decision of June 2014. In reality, Zubik is part of the Catholic hierarchy’s long fight to preserve their authority, or at least protect their business interests. It represents a profoundly harmful interpretation of religious freedom. Read more.

Read everything you need to know about Zubik v. Burwell and the big business of Catholic nonprofits.

Catholics for Choice joined nine other Catholic organizations in filing a “friend of the court” brief with the Supreme Court of the United States.

Listen to our press conference with members of the Coalition for Liberty & Justice for an in-depth analysis of the case.

More than 30 members of the Coalition for Liberty & Justice urge the Supreme Court to protect real religious freedom and access to contraception.

Catholics Call On Justices to Save Abortion Access
in Landmark Case

During the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the much anticipated case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Catholics for Choice urged the justices to protect abortion access. This case challenges provisions of a Texas law that place unnecessary and burdensome requirements on abortion, depriving women of the ability to exercise their conscience and moral autonomy.

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice said, “As Catholics, we believe women have the moral autonomy to make their own decisions about whether and when to have children. Restrictions that either prevent or make it difficult for women to get the care they need are an affront to the Catholic social justice tradition. Access to abortion shouldn't be limited by where you live, where you work, or how much money you have in your pocket. Protecting access to abortion is the moral thing to do.”

Catholics for Choice will continue to stand by the women who seek abortions and the healthcare clinicians who provide them. We ask the court to uphold religious liberty and reject any interference in the conscience rights of women.

Press Release

Pope Francis Offers Little to Those Facing Zika Crisis: His Business-as-Usual Approach Displays a Blind Spot on Women

18 February 2016 - Jon O’Brien, the president of Catholics for Choice, issued a statement in response to Pope Francis’ recent comments about abortion and contraception on the papal plane back from Mexico.

“For the Global North, Francis’ comments about abortion being 'absolute evil' are profoundly disappointing and wrong. For the Global South, the pope’s remarks are devastating and could be deadly.” Read more.

PRess Release

Pope and Patriarch Misrepresent the True Meaning of Secularism and Seek to Impose their Beliefs on Others

15 February 2016 - Pope Francis met with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill for the first time since the schism of their two religious traditions in the 11th century. They signed an interreligious joint declaration that was supposed to solidify their shared Christian values, but instead the document attacks secularism and true religious freedom. Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, responds.

Catholics to Pope Francis: Act Now and Respect the Consciences and Reproductive Rights of Women

In advance of the papal visit to Mexico, Catholics for Choice delivered an urgent message to Pope Francis about the Zika epidemic in the International New York Times. The ad is part of a campaign that will also appear in El Salvador asking Francis to do the right thing for Latin American women. Invoking the parable of the Good Samaritan, the open letter asks Francis to show true pastoral leadership. Read more in English and Spanish.

In TIME, Jon O’Brien asks Pope Francis to lift the ban on abortion and birth control.


On his way to Mexico, Pope Francis signed a joint statement with Patriarch Kirill that misrepresents the true meaning of secularism and seeks to impose their beliefs on others. Read Jon O'Brien's response.

Catholics Stand with Planned Parenthood

Dear Planned Parenthood: Love Letters from Catholics features heartfelt messages thanking Planned Parenthood staff for the care they provide to women and men across the country. Read more.

More than 90 Catholic state leaders and legislators joined together in a two-page spread in Politico, vowing to stand with Planned Parenthood. Read more.

Catholics know that Planned Parenthood provides critical services for women and men in our communities—that’s why Catholics for Choice delivered cakes and messages of goodwill to women’s clinics on behalf of Catholic supporters.


Can Faith and Freedom Co-exist?

The debate over religious freedom will continue to be a key issue in the United States and Europe. Religious lobbies are pressuring policymakers for exemptions or for permission to impose their views on the rest of society.

“Can Faith and Freedom Co-exist?” a new film produced by Catholics for Choice on behalf of the Global Interfaith and Secular Alliance, answers the pressing questions about religious freedom, secularism and extremism.


Read Conscience Online

You have relied on Conscience magazine for our incisive look at the intersections of reproductive health, religion and women's issues.

We've launched a new site that gives those articles you love an easy-to-read, easy-to-share home. Now you don't have to keep Conscience to yourself—share with your friends and colleagues.

Start reading, start sharing, and enjoy as always.

PRess Advisory

Fighting AIDS under Francis?

30 November 2015 - When it comes to reproductive health and bodily autonomy, bishops are certainly keeping business as usual. Under Francis’ leadership, the hierarchy still makes statements against condom use to prevent HIV. This raises serious questions about whether people are getting the services they need under development aid even though church-controlled charities take taxpayer money.  Read more.


European Parliamentary Forum: A Secular Europe

1 October 2015 - Catholics for Choice co-organized a forum at the European Parliament, “Religion, Human Rights and a Secular Europe: Can Faith and Freedom Co-exist?” with Europe’s International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA-Europe) as part of the Global Interfaith and Secular Alliance (GISA). The forum brought together MEPs, journalists and civil society to discuss the rise of intolerant religious groups in European institutions. Panels covered sexual and reproductive health, the rights of LGBTI people, an extreme religious presence in Europe, as well as the freedom of and from religion. Read more.

Press Release

New Poll: What Do Millennials in the Time of Francis Believe?


29 June 2015 - When Pope Francis visits the United States this fall, he will no doubt be surrounded by young Catholics. But new polling of Catholic Millennials released today in Conscience magazine shows that while they have positive views of Pope Francis, they express beliefs that stand in stark contrast to the Catholic hierarchy on everything from abortion to same-sex marriage to equality for women in the church. Read more.

Support Real Religious Liberty, Not Discrimination

From Sunday, June 21 to Saturday, July 4, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops held their annual campaign to promote discrimination. Though the bishops call it a “Fortnight for Freedom,” make no mistake: The bishops’ idea of religious freedom is the freedom to discriminate against anyone who disagrees with them, and they want all of us to join them.

Join us in the fight for real religious freedom

New Publication

An International Summit on Reproductive Choice

An International Summit on Reproductive Choice

At a unique two-day summit, more than 70 advocates, service providers and academics from across the globe discussed how best to defend and advance women’s reproductive choices. The summit was organized by Catholics for Choice, along with Portugal’s Associação para o Planeamento da Família and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. Summit speakers debated the difficult issues that have long challenged those in the domestic and international reproductive health field. Select proceedings in this publication offer groundbreaking perspectives on thorny issues like later abortion, fetal pain, sex selection and fetal anomaly. Read more.

New Publication

You Are Not Alone: Catholic Women
and the Abortion Decision

You Are Not Alone


Catholic women facing the abortion decision often feel alone when they walk into a clinic. "You Are Not Alone" is a new resource that affirms their decisions through a solid grounding in our religious tradition.

Order "You Are Not Alone" from the CFC online store.

Read "You Are Not Alone."



Catholic Theology the Bishops Won't Talk About


It’s not just regular Catholics that are being left out of the bishops’ synod. There’s more to Catholic teaching on sexuality and reproductive choices than you’ll hear from the Vatican. Watch this video to learn about some of the best kept secrets about Catholicism on these issues that are critical to Catholics today.

Coalition for Liberty & Justice

Liberty and Justice for All


A new short film from the Coalition for Liberty & Justice shows what happens when religious extremists in the US use religion as a license to discriminate against hospital staff, teachers and other workers who do not conform to the extremists’ views of what is acceptable. This discrimination takes place using your tax dollars. Read more.