Kathleen Wilson, left, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, helps a new mother with one of her newborn twins at a home run by Mary’s Shelter, a Catholic organization she founded that provides housing and financial support to pregnant women in crisis for up to three years following the birth of their children. ( CNS PHOTO/CHAZ MUTH)

Catholics for Choice (CFC) launched its new ad campaign “Abortion in Good Faith” on Sept. 27, the same day Hugh Hefner died. Hefner, a long supporter of abortion rights and critic of the Catholic Church, had a little-known but significant connection with the group, having provided early funding to CFC in the 1980s through the Playboy Foundation.

With its new ad series, CFC claims that “ensuring poor women have the same rights” as other women to access federally funded abortion is a “principle of social justice.” Catholics around the country are denouncing this statement, shocked at CFC claims that Catholic teaching encourages elimination of poor children to solve poverty.

In one CFC ad, “John” claims, “Denying someone abortion care, or any healthcare, simply because they cannot afford the procedure is an assault on their God-given dignity.”

The claim that abortion affirms human dignity shows just how much influence Hefner and his worldview had on CFC. Building an empire founded on the belief that “women are sex objects” went far to create a world where people are disposable and human value is based on utility.

Thankfully, there is a growing trend of women and men who are coming to realize that this cultural view of humanity is mistaken. That, in fact, denying that we are made for real love is making us less human.

So, if abortion is the wrong response to women and families in need, what would authentic Catholic social doctrine have us do?

First, we have to understand that the face of abortion is dramatically changing in this country. Today, 59 percent of women who experience abortion have at least one child already, 75 percent are poor or low-income and 85 percent are unmarried.

This information invites us to analyze our response to women and families in need. How much are we focused on the needs of the typical woman — poor, unmarried, mother — making a pregnancy decision? Have we fully considered the economic implications of abortion?

As Catholics, we can offer a solution that fully respects the dignity of the woman and that of her unborn child. We know that women living in poverty or facing other difficult circumstances can joyfully embrace motherhood if they are encouraged and supported. At the end of the day, the optimal solution is a human one that values both the unborn child and the mother, and does not force her to choose between her own thriving and that of her child.

Catholic Charities provides practical relief to millions across the US through holistic women’s health clinics, adoption services, and supportive housing.

Catholic Campaign for Human Development-sponsored programs mentor new moms and their families through their baby’s first years of life while others create opportunities for women to own businesses to build income while also caring for young children.

Still other Catholic programs encourage people to marry before having children and share our rich teaching on respect and sexual integrity.

This is the model that we offer to the world as the example of Catholic social doctrine in action. There is no room for violence. Abortion is nothing more than a product of a culture that does not understand humanity or the value of community.

As Catholics, we are committed to standing with women and families to support life-affirming solutions and structures to lift people out of poverty, build strong families in every community and affirm the dignity of every person.

Our actions speak for themselves — as we draw others closer to Christ’s merciful love, we are also drawn so that together we build a civilization of love. 

 

Kathleen Buckley Domingo is director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.