Op-ed: On Pope Francis, Economic Justice & Reproductive Rights

Pope Francis has come to the United States to preach about economic justice amid an unprecedented attack on reproductive rights. Anti-choice advocates no longer simply try  to criminalize abortion. Now, most legislative attacks are part of a strategy that relies on steadily implementing incremental restrictions with the goal of reserving safe and legal abortion as a luxury of the rich. Women’s Law Project Executive Director Carol Tracy and Kate Michelman, co-chair of WomenVote PA, wrote about this connection on the even of Pope Francis’ historic visit to Philadelphia. From the piece: We, like many leaders in the reproductive rights and women’s rights movement, were baptized and raised as Catholics. Like many Catholics, we left because we could no longer continue to be part of a church whose doctrine denigrated the moral integrity of women. Catholic Church doctrine is not the only morally informed perspective on reproductive rights and abortion.   We believe the current assault on reproductive rights, which strives to reserve the access to contraception and safe abortion for the rich, is fundamentally immoral. We not only believe, but know, that women make morally informed reproductive decisions, including whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, every day.   And so we are watching this week with decidedly mixed emotions: nostalgia, anger, concern and hope.   We admire and respect Pope Francis. He brings us back to the memory of John XXIII, who was elected pope when we came of age. Like John, Pope Francis is shifting the church from dogma to pastoral care rooted in compassion, mercy and inclusion. He has criticized the church for “putting dogma before love, and for prioritizing moral doctrines over serving the poor and marginalized.”   Having become acutely aware of increasing income inequality in recent years, Americans are ready for this message. Not only do 85 percent of American Catholics approve of Pope Francis, but seven out of 10 Americans as a whole.   In 2013, Pope Francis criticized the church for being “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage and contraception. “The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent,” he said. “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”   In early September, Pope Francis released a statement addressing abortion. Specifically, the pope authorized priests to grant “forgiveness” to a woman for having had an abortion, if she seeks such absolution. We know that women can and do make their own moral decisions about whether they can bear and raise a child and do not need forgiveness. However, a wider analysis of the pope’s position reveals that his language is far less stigmatizing than the...

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Announcing #FrancisLovesMeToo

  For Immediate Release Contact: Mike Morrill, Keystone Progress Education Fund Tara Murtha, Women’s Law Project Leah Chamberlain, Philadelphia Women’s Center #FrancisLoveMeToo Local progressive advocates launch campaign to welcome the Pope’s message of economic justice—and call for real policy solutions Philadelphia- As you may have heard by now, Pope Francis is coming to Philadelphia this week. We’ve watched in fascination as the former nightclub bouncer from Buenos Aires now known as Pope Francis—“part rock star, part diplomat and part politician,” according to the New York Times—has shifted the conversation about and within the Roman Catholic Church by preaching compassion, mercy and tolerance. He even criticized the Church for “putting dogma before love, and for prioritizing moral doctrines over serving the poor and marginalized.” Turns out, listening to and ministering to the poor and advocating for economic justice is a popular message: Not only do 85% of American Catholics approve of Pope Francis, but seven out of ten Americans as a whole. As advocates for economic justice and reproductive rights, we are welcoming the Pope to Philadelphia by extending the conversations he is starting around issues of poverty and family, and discussing real solutions, under the banner #FrancisLovesMeToo. We invite you to join us as we explore Pope Francis’ message of mercy and economic justice for struggling families, something we need here in Pennsylvania and especially Philadelphia, a city with the highest rate of deep poverty, where children are routinely ravaged by the effects of poverty and trauma, and women suffer the highest rate of maternal mortality in the country. We are a community of advocates who fight to see the values espoused by Pope Francis reflected in the state Legislature and our communities. Economic justice and equality are not possible without equal access to reproductive healthcare including contraception and abortion, support for working mothers, and eliminating discrimination. We will be posting about the status of families in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania all week, and highlighting opportunities for policies to reflect the values being discussed. Throughout the week, we invite you to contact us for comment from experts on related issues, such as: reproductive justice, workplace discrimination, poverty as a risk factor for sexual violence, equal pay, contraception, abortion, LGBTQ discrimination, working mothers, healthcare access, the cost of mass incarceration, and raising the minimum wage. Like www.facebook.com/francislovesmetoo to stay up-to-date on messages from Pennsylvania advocates working to replace discriminatory “family values” rhetoric in Pennsylvania with policies that actually value families: traditional families, modern families, LGBTQ families, poor families, our families, and yours....

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