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America’s Pro-Choice Majority Speaks Out

Posted on Feb 8, 2012
photosteve101 (CC-BY-SA)

By Amy Goodman

The leadership of the Catholic Church has launched what amounts to a holy war against President Barack Obama. Archbishop Timothy Dolan appealed to church members, “Let your elected leaders know that you want religious liberty and rights of conscience restored and that you want the administration’s contraceptive mandate rescinded,” he said. Obama is now under pressure to reverse a health-care regulation that requires Catholic hospitals and universities, like all employers, to provide contraception to insured women covered by their health plans. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said, “This is going to be fought out with lawsuits, with court decisions, and, dare I say it, maybe even in the streets.” In the wake of the successful pushback against the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood, the Obama administration should listen to the majority of Americans: The United States, including Catholics, is strongly pro-choice.

Rick Santorum most likely benefited from the 24-hour news cycle this week with his three-state win. Exactly one week before the caucus/primary voting, on Jan. 31, The Associated Press broke the story that Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a $2 billion-per-year breast-cancer fundraising and advocacy organization, had enacted policies that would effectively lead it to deny funding to Planned Parenthood clinics to conduct breast-cancer screenings, especially for women with no health insurance. Linked to the decision was a recently hired Komen vice president, Karen Handel, who, as a candidate for governor of Georgia in 2010, ran on a platform to defund Planned Parenthood. The backlash was immediate, broad-based and unrelenting. By Feb. 3, Komen reversed its decision. On Feb. 7, Handel resigned from Komen.

Adding fuel to the ire was news that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had issued the regulation requiring employer insurance plans to provide contraception. The coup de grace, on primary/caucus day, was the decision handed down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturning California’s controversial Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriages.

For Santorum, in a primary battle with Mitt Romney, it was “three strikes, you’re in.” As a conservative Catholic and father of seven, Santorum has long waged the culture war, with a focus on marriage, abortion and sex. He once likened homosexuality to bestiality.

According to the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health issues globally, in the United States, “among all women who have had sex, 99 percent have used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning. This figure is virtually the same among Catholic women (98 percent).” According to a Public Religion Research Institute poll, 58 percent of Catholics believe that employers should provide employees with health-care plans that include contraception.


Square, Site wide
Catholic activists who acknowledge the broad use of contraception among their church members, despite its official prohibition, suggest women can “go elsewhere” to get the preventive care. And if they can’t afford to? Loretta Ross, national coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective in Atlanta, told me: “This rule really allows low-income women, women who are dependent on their health care, to access birth control—women of color, in particular ... if you don’t want to use birth control, don’t buy it, don’t use it. But don’t block others who do want to use it, who cannot afford it, from accessing it.”

One possible solution to the debate came from a surprising quarter. Michael Brendan Dougherty, a Catholic commentator, was in church a couple of weeks ago when he heard the priest read out a letter from Archbishop Dolan encouraging Catholics to oppose the president. Dougherty, who supports the church’s opposition to the regulation, suggested to me that a single-payer health-care option could solve the problem: “It would solve this particular problem of conscience, as it has in Europe. The bishops don’t like that the government subsidizes abortion or contraception, but they are not in full mode of fury, because they are not being asked to formally cooperate with things they view as sinful.”

Loretta Ross agrees with the single-payer solution, but says the current contraception controversy masks a “war on women with all this rhetoric about religious freedom and care for not only the pre-born, but now, with the attack on contraception, you’re attacking the preconceived. ... We’re not going to take it lying down. And as the fight with the Komen Foundation proved, we are a force to be reckoned with. And we’re actually going to work to strengthen President Obama’s stand in supporting contraceptive access.”

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the author of “Breaking the Sound Barrier,” recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

© 2012 Amy Goodman

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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By heterochromatic, February 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

Lee- no. Churches get to complain about stuff without being punished…..why
should it be otherwise?

everyone and everything gets to complain and to yell at the government….even

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By Leefeller, February 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Tax the political churches,  any church which wants to want to play politics! Freedom of religion seems to mean freedom not to pay taxes. Look at proposition 8 in California sponsored by the Mormons Church, now this with the Catholic Bishops and the evangelicals constantly attempting to expedite and promote their apocalypse!

Jack, Comparing Amy Goodman to Russ Limbaugh is not only silly it is absurd, as for cherry picking, me thinks the divisiveness is in rightys myopic court right now and most of the time, for they have and cannot offer any substantive ideas or plans, except to jump on this completely non issue right now, thanks to the Catholic Bishops. By the way the dissing of Rachel Maddow by the right again just tells us how desperate the GOP is right now, on the other hand they are are doing their job to keep the masses upset.

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By heterochromatic, February 10, 2012 at 11:15 am Link to this comment

Jack—- I’m kinda confused.

......” if the gov mandates a drug or procedure in to a health care law….”......

I didn’t think that the government was mandating that people had to use
contraception. I thought that they wanted it to be included for those electing to
use them.

and yeah, it is something that the employee would earn as compensation for
service to the employee, and paying for services or products that you consume
doesn’t seem all that objectionable….. and doesn’t seem like the government is
thereby giving a hand-out to the suppliers of contraceptives.

It doesn’t seem as if it’s anything more than a roundabout method for the
employee to get stuff and pay for it.

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By Jack, February 10, 2012 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So apparently my post yesterday didn’t make the cut.  Hmm?  I wonder why…maybe because I pointed out Goodman’s tendency to cherry pick info to make her case and using a personal example of when I saw her telling half truths at a commencement speech to promote the idea that only Republicans have done horrible things with US foreign policy.  Both parties are corrupt…many of the writers on this site point that out incessantly. 
Or was it me wondering why Amy’s current coverage of what is going on in Syria smacks in the face of what she heard when she interviewed Wesley Clark back in ‘07.  You can find the video on utube easily and you’ll see what I mean.

She is no better than Limbaugh.  She is carrying water for Obama and the Republicans and loving the “peace bombs” they are dropping all over the middle east and c. Asia right now.  And apparently she can’t handle a critic.
With reference to this story, my point was that if the gov mandates a drug or procedure in to a health care law it is a handout to the big pharma and insurance companies and it still comes out of the pocket of the employee eventually.  She hides this fact by pretending these requirements are somehow free and will help poor women.  Not the women who don’t need the contraceptive and still have money taken out of their pay to pay for others that do.  I’m sure they’ll feel free and wealthier then, right?  Once gov (as an arm of the big corps) gets to mandate your health care they will get lobbied to make all kinds of things you don’t want mandatory…just like the subsidies and handouts they give for everything else they control now (auto insurance is a great example).  Use some sense. 
No, I’m wrong.  This will just be free and gov or your rich bosses will pay for it.  They’ll never take it out of what you would have earned or out of your taxes, right?

Grow up.

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By joe, February 10, 2012 at 6:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We need to stop convoluting contraception and the morning-after pill with abortion. I think a lot of us on the left are like I used to be on abortion, thinking that what Loretta Ross has called ‘the preborn’ who are aborted are as Bill Hicks described, just a ‘bunch of little congregated cells’. I was shocked to find that at as little as 6 weeks we have arms and legs and a head and brain activity. Many abortions take place much, much later than that. The left needs to have a long, hard look at itself (ourselves?) and give a bit more thought to what makes someone a living human being with its own human rights. Ejection from the womb does not seem to me a satisfactory criterion. Contraception is a wholely different issue.

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By Leefeller, February 10, 2012 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

It is a knon fact, life begins from a gleam in eye to birth,....  after birth the hell with them, they are on there own to jump on the 1 percent trampoline of success if happened to be not lucky to inherit it, otherwise it would be construed as socialism by the same persons deciding on when life should end!

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By socrates12, February 10, 2012 at 1:05 am Link to this comment

@ Bradley….Bradley..the white men who created our political system/constitution OWNED slaves.  Also…some people believe in the sanctity of life no matter what stage of development the life is in. Here’s the rally cry of a feminist…“It’s all about ME”.

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By socrates12, February 10, 2012 at 12:39 am Link to this comment

@ TrishaJ,  Actually Jesus did use violence and intimidation when he overturned tables of moneychangers and physically drove them out of the synagogue/temple.  He was very angry that these moneychangers where defiling the house of the Lord.  Jesus actually made a whip from some cords in order to drive the moneychangers out.  TrishaJ…you can find this in all four gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke and John).  I highly doubt Jesus would be happy with abortion either…lol

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By heterochromatic, February 10, 2012 at 12:01 am Link to this comment

allan,  public displays of outrage at having their employees have an OPTION of
choosing contraception as part of their health plan benefits… just not good
despite other fine positions taken by the Church.

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By ohiolibgal, February 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

The church and the nutjob right seem to want to go back to the middle ages or something. It’s scary and creepy.

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By BeReal, February 9, 2012 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment

Employees are not working for the church, they are working for a company. As such they are entitled to the same benefits as everyone else. If the church wants to control contraception then it needs to release its tax free status and acknowledge that it is a BUSINESS like any other. Also, if it wants to control what its employees DO, it had better make sure they are all CATHOLIC!

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By Blueokie, February 9, 2012 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

It’s been the strategy of the U.S.C.C.B. to claim interference in church business at every opportunity in an effort to force people to believe their nonsense when clearly they no longer do.  It is ironic that the organization that had Cardinal Ratzenberger ally with Reagan in the war of eradication against Liberation Theology, claimed a witch hunt when they were exposed as a pedophile enabling ring (another effort headed by Ratzenberger as the chief obstructor and was rewarded with the Superstition Corporations top job for his success in both endeavors), to hold itself as a moral organization.  This is just a case of out-of-touch old white men who are convinced the world should be run to their liking.

That being said, the cause of this nonsense lies at the feet of the Dims/Obama utter failure with so called Health Care Reform.  Had they done what they’ve always promised and delivered Single Payer the RCC would have no say, and it would be a non-issue as they wouldn’t be expected to provide something 98%
of their sheep use regardless.  Obamanation and the Dims are getting exactly what they deserve and this should be viewed as part of the price of their failure while delivering for the status quo while pretending to work for the people.  Obamanation and the Dims will, of course, cave on this issue as in reality it is about Corporate rights over individuals, and if you don’t know where Obamafraud and the Dims stand on that issue, you haven’t been paying attention.

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By Bradley, February 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ Rebecca

How is a completely voluntary medical procedure torture? Also, rewording poll questions ALWAYS drastically changes the answers, this is why polls are, by and large, an unreliable means of calculating support for something. The right is pretty notorious for simply rewording polls to find the answers they want to hear.

But let’s say you’re right, that people’s minds are changing and that soon a majority of people will now be against abortion, does that make it ok for the majority to impose their will on the minority by removing that right from the all people to have one? I’m reminded of the civil rights movement, back when the “majority” considered black people to be below white people, and that they should not have the same rights. The simple fact of the matter is, our political system was deliberately designed to prevent the “tyranny of the majority.”

The problem with the pro-choice movement, is that they are arguing for something that nobody, in actuality, wants to happen. Not even the most staunch pro-choice supporters thinks abortion is actually a good thing, however, the alternative, that women do not have any reproductive rights, that their wombs are not their own, that they are not able to choose when to bring a child into this world, the fact that men can be as promiscuous as they want while women have to bare the entire burden of childbirth, is a dark alternative indeed.

In addition to all of this, people need to understand once and for all that a fertilized egg is not the same thing as a fetus, and a fetus is not the same thing as a fully developed human baby. The idea that life begins at conception is completely preposterous, and some of the laws the far right intends to enact will criminalize any woman who has any problems during childbirth. Give birth to a dead baby? Criminal investigation! Have a miscarriage? Criminal investigation! Have a condition that threatens your life and your baby’s life? Well too bad, you can’t have an abortion because your life is not your own.

Maybe religious folks and those against abortion should stop holding up signs saying “baby killer” to women in already in difficult positions with a heart-wrenching decision to make. Maybe “pro-lifers” should stop targeting and assassinating doctors and medical professionals for performing a medical treatment. And finally, maybe those who are truly pro-life should abandon the anti-abortion crusade and focus instead on promoting life where it already exists, by speaking out against war and the death penalty, for starters.

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By RMcD, February 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As long as “Catholic” hospitals and universities receive public funding (through medicare and medicaid or through Pell Grants, etc.), they are PUBLIC institutions, and should be required to meet the same regulatory standards as any other public institution.  The VAST majority of employees of these “Catholic” institutions ARE NOT Roman Catholic, nor are their students and/or patients.  In fact, there are NUMEROUS individual states where these groups are already required to cover birth control - by STATE law.  Let’s get serious - a bunch of white-haired, white skinned old men who are wearing solid gold jewelry (paid for by the very folks they are trying to prevent from having family planning ability) are running the Church, and they are soooo out of touch with the realities of providing for a family and the very real choices that men and women have to think about before starting or expanding their families.  The Church is not required to provide family planning for priest, nuns or other “church leaders,” but the institutions that benefit from our tax dollars (while retaining tax-free status) need to stop complaining about this.  Oh, and maybe they should stop covering Viagra and other ED drugs on their plans?  That might reduce the need for some of that birth control?  Why is is acceptable for men to “go against God’s plan” by making themselves able to obtain an erection when He has made them impotent, but NOT okay for women to protect themselves from being impregnated by the men who are taking those drugs?  If it is really that important to men’s “mental health” to be able to “do it,” surely it is equally important to the mental health of women to be able to prevent unwanted pregnancy!  More than 98% of CATHOLIC women already use birth control, so this seems like a hill that has already been lost.  The Church needs to move into reality and stay out of politics.

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By DRS, February 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The archaic Catholic Church has no moral authority nor is it in any position to preach morals to anyone, not even to the vilest pedophile serving prison time. 

They all need to get jobs and stop the parasitic feeding on the “masses” and children.

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By allan, February 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hate to mess with people’s stereotypes, but the Catholic Church is actually on the progressive end of the specturm on most political issues, including worker’s rights, opposing the start of the Iraq war, capital punishment, greater income equality, universal health care (except when it includes killing preborn infants) and repairing the social safety net for the poor and vulnerable.  The view of the Catholic Church on life issues is actually more consistent than the right and the left.  It believes that people should not be executed thru capital punishment, die from lack of access to health care or be collateral damage in some imperial war (contra right wingers).  It also believes that there is something seriously wrong with a society that justifies ripping the limbs of a viable infant or crushing his or her head just because they are in utero and, by some magical thinking, not really human yet (contra most left wingers.)  The only stance that makes sense is one that is ethically consistent and embraces the value of ALL human life.

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By Libertys Ghost, February 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ll get to this article in a second, but first let me tell you my personally experience with Ms. Goodman.  I used to listen to Amy every day in my younger years, but soon things seemed odd with her presentations.  I soon realized she was a gatekeeper for the establishment.  Then, surprise!  Having been forced to sit through a commencement speech offered by Amy last spring at the university I teach and staff at, I got to witness first hand her willingness to play fast and loose with the facts.  She may not have expected a Historian to be on stage at a mass comm graduation, but I witnessed her run through many horrible atrocities committed by our gov over the years cherry picking events to tie them to Republican admins when I knew they in fact covered multiple terms representing both parties (the E. Timor example infuriated me especially because it was so obvious). She is great at herding innocent minds back on to the two party reservation and we see it again here.
As if Obama cares about the health of women. As Hedges so clearly points out these days, we live in a corporate/fascist state that owns both party establishments.  If a woman’s employer is mandated to give these prescriptions, etc., it should be obvious that the person has a job, right?  Skip the latte or any other minor expense and by the pills if you desire.  The cost of the extra “benefits” comes from the employees paycheck in some form or another so the end result is a mandated subsidy of the corporate health model in some way…single payer would do the same.  I’m sure big pharma and insurance companies would love the extra income streams (insurance will peel off a % of the higher premium costs for the new “benefits” of course).  The gov “healthcare” models being pushed are in fact “sick care” and we are beginning to realize that.  This response is a result of more and more people opting out of what is fast becoming a destructive health care system.  If they cared about anyone’s health they would stop building nuke plants, stop spreading DU, enforce some sort of check on polluted drugs and vaccines used worldwide, criminalize many GMOs, etc. etc.  All things they could do today…but they won’t.  Why?  Because, as Hedges points out, all of these things line the pockets of the corporations/big banks.  That’s it.

“Choice”.  For whom Amy?  Your pet group that day?  Veering off a bit, I was told recently by a colleague to see how well Goodman was covering the “crack down” on the “democracy movements” in Syria (remember Egypt, Libya anyone?  Those movements don’t look to genuine in retrospect either now do they?).  HMMM?  This reminded me of when Amy interviewed Wesley Clark about 5 yrs ago and he told her he was privy to a list back in 2001 of nations (7) to be toppled by the US.  You can see the interview on youtube (type in “Wesley Clark Amy Goodman seven nations” and you should get it).  Has Amy completely forgot where Syria fell on that list?  The only nations on it not controlled through NATO operation as of yet are…you guessed it, Syria and Iran.  HMMM?  It seemed she was thrilled with the info when it came during a Republican Admin, but has soon forgot it now that a Dem is in charge.  He couldn’t possibly be proceeding with the continuity of agenda Hedges describes, could he?  He’s in a “different party” after all.

I hope you are doing this blindly and without intent to mislead your listeners/readers Amy.  I really am.  But after hearing your commencement speech, reading this article, and reviewing your approach to the ME/C. Asia policies now that a Dem is in office, I can’t imagine that is the case.
Run from her writings and pronouncements as fast as you can.  The Judas Goats lead their own to slaughter.

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By felicity, February 9, 2012 at 11:53 am Link to this comment

Some of the Framers wanted Freedom of Religion to be
changed to Freedom From Religion.  Unfortunately, they
didn’t get their way.

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By TrishaJ, February 9, 2012 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

The Catholic Church which claims Jesus as their founder seems to have developed a my-way-or-the-highway attitude when it comes to others abiding by their beliefs. Perhaps I missed something somewhere but I don’t remember a single instance where Jesus used intimidation or force to bring people to his way. What happened to teaching people that the basis of a true Christian life is to form a true conscience and then follow it? Today’s “conservative” church wants to dictate people’s choices while at the same time telling them to take responsibility for themselves.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church of today isn’t in much better shape than the government. It has lost its way hung up in man-devised structures: the hierarchy which creates career paths and therefore ambition, big churches expensive to maintain, fancy garments including rings that are to be kissed, and all of this fosters the need to protect its image at the cost of its soul.

But this is not the Catholic faith. The true faith was founded by Jesus and is based on love not condemnation; it teaches by example not edict; it draws people to itself because it creates a joy that others see and want for themselves; it is concerned for the poor and vulnerable; it understands that material riches are more of an impediment than a help on the faith journey. In other words it is a belief in and love for the Kingdom of God not the kingdom of man.

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By Leefeller, February 9, 2012 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

If Church s are going to be political, why don’t they tax Church s and let them hire their own politicians through Supremo Super Packs just like the people too Corporations?

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By heterochromatic, February 9, 2012 at 9:28 am Link to this comment

the same stupid rhetoric from the reflexive Goodman that assholes on the
reflexive right are using to say that Obama is launching a war on the churches.

we don’t need this.

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By vincenyt, February 9, 2012 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

If the bishops are dispensing political edicts from the pulpit, then the tax free status of the Church should be called into question. The Catholic Bishops, the royalty of the Church,are hopelessly out of touch with their congregants. Their agenda against birth control arouses suspicion as to their motivation. The largest ethnic demographic in the Church today are lower income Hispanics. Should these people be allowed to use or have free access to birth control measures, it would mean fewer future followers in the faith.

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By socrates12, February 9, 2012 at 12:04 am Link to this comment

The Catholic Church should close all their hospitals and Universities.  Why should they be forced to be an indirect accomplice to abortions and birth control use when it goes contrary to their philosophy.  I’m sure Obama doesn’t mind the Catholic Church providing 3 million plus jobs, I wonder how he would feel if those 3 million plus workers were suddenly unemployed.  I’m willing to bet the sexual urges of people would be last thing he would be worried about at that point.  Obama bites the hand that feeds.  It’s just like Chris Hedges said “Obama is soulless”.

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By Robespierre115, February 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

This is the 21st century right? The CC is actually still quite influential in countries like Mexico where they keep many laws incredibly reactionary, but in the US this is just pathetic.

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By Rebecca, February 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Amy leads with the banner “Pro-Choice Majority,” as if the matter at hand were the availability of abortion as ambushed by some political agenda.  It’s true Republicans in Washington do use this as a divisive measure. It’s true that they are reprehensible hypocrites. It is also true most regular people oppose repeat abortions on-demand, as did most all of the founders of the Feminist movement.

As for her notion of majority, see <> and <>, these revealing the opinions of most Americans over several decades. Among the findings: “ 1996, a sharp reversal occurred, with a drop in the number holding the extreme pro-choice position (this fell to 22% by 1997) and more people taking the middle position.”

“Gallup itself asks the policy question differently; it has 53 percent saying abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances,” 22 percent legal in all circumstances and 23 percent illegal in all circumstances.”

Finally, Goodman continues to refuse to recognize the obvious; that the issue of abortion has NEVER been about “choice.” 

It is, and has always been, about torture.

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By Textynn, February 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The CC is an outdated group who wrecked havoc on this planet for centuries, destroyed the evolution of science, snuffed real history, and have done more to hurt women than any other group in the history of mankind.  Their voice is more than irrelevant, it needs to aggressively ignored.

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, February 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There may be about 10 catholics in the country who don’t use contraceptives.  Priests themselves would buy them if boys could get pregnant.

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