We want you to help us welcome the Pope and join in celebrating his messages of inclusion, mercy and economic justice … and call for changes in Pennsylvania.
Please join us in reminding Pope Francis and the attendees of the World Meeting of Families that Pennsylvania is in desperate need of inclusion, mercy and economic justice.
Religion is the major societal contributor of stigma in America, which we loosely define as the notion that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable. Abortion stigma has unhealthy consequences for our patients who come from a Catholic upbringing. They are bullied, shamed, and marginalized. Catholic women are essentially prevented from seeking safe health care services by their church which should be a source of daily inspiration and safe guidance. For providers, we are harassed, dehumanized and targeted because of abortion stigma created and upheld by the Catholic Church.
Consider the following:
Pennsylvania laws against abortion have historically contributed to restrictions in other states creating a nation that denies equal access to safe medical care.
Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty in the country.
Children are routinely ravaged by the traumatic effects of poverty and violence, and women suffer the highest rate of maternal mortality in the country.
Pennsylvania was just ranked the next-to-worst state to have a baby.
Discriminating against LGBTQ people is legal in Pennsylvania.
The minimum wage is the lowest allowed by federal law, a system that makes it impossible for tens of thousands of full-time workers to support their families.
Pennsylvania women are not expected to achieve equal pay until 2072.
We recognize Pope Francis has not changed church law or the harm caused by its stigma. However, this does invite Catholic women back to church in a political decision that appears to be motivated by compassion and acknowledgement of the reality of abortion and complexity of decisions. Our hope is that this invitation will extend beyond this election cycle and will grow include to abortion providers, and to patients choosing abortion in subsequent pregnancies.
We feel compelled to also gain perspective by turning to female church leaders and found the messaging put out by the National Coalition of American Nuns paraphrased below, to be powerful:
…NCAN realizes the Pope’s desire to be pastoral and making any statement about abortion might seem to be helpful as it takes away excommunication and the need to confess to a Bishop. However, women do not find this new ruling very affirming because:
It does not respect the moral authority women have in making decisions for their own reproductive anatomy.
It still holds those decisions made by a woman as sinful.
It does not acknowledge that sperm from males produced these unplanned pregnancies.
It only serves to highlight the fact that women should be eligible for all sacraments.
It continues the practice of men proclaiming what is right and just for women.
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