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Vol. XXXVII - No. 2
Read Conscience online.



Conscience and Autonomy

In a conference held by Catholics for Choice last winter, dozens of bright people gathered to discuss the meaning of conscience and autonomy. Do they coexist or are they in opposition? How did those concepts develop, and what role have they played in determining our beliefs about abortion and other reproductive health issues?

Featuring articles fueled from our conference, this issue of Conscience magazine goes to the very heart of why we are Catholics for Choice: a belief in both autonomy and conscience. 



press release

Statement from Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, on Whole Woman’s Health Decision

27 June - Our faith’s teachings demand that we respect the conscience-based decisions people make, including the right to continue or end a pregnancy. This ruling is a step in the right direction. Still, it is essential that we not take it for granted. Read more.

Catholic Groups Call on US Bishops to Build ‘A Church for Our Daughters’

“A Church for Our Daughters,” a grassroots movement organized by 30 Catholic-rooted organizations, gathered outside of the US bishops’ June meeting to present “A Declaration for Our Daughters,” calling for church leaders to strike down every oppressive practice, teaching and law that assigns women and girls to a subordinate status. Read more.

In TIME, CFC's domestic program senior associate, Glenn Northern, writes that we must demand a church that respects the rights, conscience, autonomy, skills and vision of all its members.

Patricia Miller of Religion Dispatches describes the movement and declaration as an effort to "publicly spell out the kind of church many Catholics would like to see."

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.



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 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.


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.

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.