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Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Vatican 24

Religious women have abortions, too. And many faiths affirm abortion rights

The abortion debate is largely presented as a stark divide between secular people who support access to abortion care and religious people who oppose it. This false binary has obscured the diversity of religious positions on the issue, particularly of those who support abortion access. While Jewish support for abortion has been recognized on some occasions, support for abortion rights in Christianity, Islam and other religious traditions has largely been ignored.

With media attention trained on Friday’s March for Life in Washington and the upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wade — perhaps the last, as an increasingly conservative Supreme Court might strike it down later this year — it’s important to correct this mistaken characterization of religious Americans’ views on abortion.

The focus on religious opposition to abortion overlooks the perspectives and religious commitments of the millions of people who have abortions in this country. Additionally, an imbalance in media coverage normalizes religious opposition to abortion, thus paving the way for particular theological beliefs to be codified into law. This ultimately denies the right of religious freedom to other faith communities whose beliefs about pregnancy, abortion and childbearing differ ....

An example of this is Catholicism. The male-only leadeship of the Catholic church has decided that women choosing abortion is always morally wrong. But a majority of US Catholics themselves have said they want abortion to stay legal. And it's not just lay Catholics. I recall an ad placed in The New York Times on October 7, 1984, by "the Vatican 24" ... 24 Catholic nuns (and some priests and some prominent lay Catholics).

Document 32: Catholics for a Free Choice, "A Diversity of Opinions Regarding Abortions Exists Among Committed Catholics," advertisement, New York Times, 72 (7 October 1984), E7

The Vatican threatened them all, of course - Vatican Threat On Abortion Ad Went To Signers

There's a Wikipedia page about it: A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion

[...] Before mid-1984, a Catholic position paper was signed by about 80 reform-minded theologians and members of religious institutes who were sympathetic to choice in abortion. This position paper was used by CFFC as the basis for The New York Times ad. CFFC's statement said that the Catholic Church's doctrine condemning abortion as "morally wrong in all instances" was "not the only legitimate Catholic position." It said that "a large number" of Catholic theologians considered abortion to be a moral choice in some cases and cited a recent survey which found that only 11% of Catholics believed that abortion was wrong under all circumstances. It called for value pluralism and discussion within the Church on the subject. More signatures were added, bringing the total to 97 prominent Catholics including theologians, nuns, priests and lay persons.

The advertisement was intended to help 1984 vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, a pro-choice Catholic, to resist the sharp criticism directed at her by Archbishop of New York John Joseph O'Connor during the 1984 U.S. presidential election. Following the ad's publication, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced it and called it contrary to "the clear and consistent teaching of the church that deliberately chosen abortion is objectively immoral." Subsequently, the Vatican pursued recantings by or reprimands of the signers who were directly subject to Church authority, including 24 nuns who became known as the "Vatican 24". Some signers recanted their affiliation with CFFC; most were said by their superiors to be in line with Catholic teaching. Two nuns resisted, publicly embraced a pro-choice position and eventually left their order ...

The pro-life stance on abortion has not always been, and is not, the only religious stance on abortion.


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