Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, was The Washington Post’s “On Faith” guest columnist on June 21. Predictably, she used the opportunity to bash the Catholic Church’s abortion policy. In “Should Church control access to health care?” Northup charged that the Catholic Church wields too much influence over policy decisions dealing with abortion.
Northup complained, “This year at home, we saw the U.S. government give the Conference on Catholic Bishops veto power over the health-care reform bill, and in the end, millions of American women were left with a policy that restricts insurance coverage for abortion services even for those who pay for their insurance with their own hard-earned dollars.”
She also sympathized with Sister Margaret McBride, who was demoted and excommunicated when she gave permission for an ill woman to have an abortion at a hospital. Northup questioned why more people didn’t wonder about her “secular punishment.”
And the problem, Northup suggested, was world-wide.
She wrote in other countries, “we repeatedly confront the tragic consequences of the Catholic Church’s sustained hostility to reproductive health service when it imposes its theology on public policy and the provision of health services to the public.”
In Kenya, she wrote, Catholic leaders are considering halting a new constitution because of a clause that would allow abortions in some circumstances. She stated, “But the Church would prefer to preserve the narrower exception on the books today, which criminalize abortion except to save the woman’s life.”
She warned that unplanned pregnancies bring “poverty, a dearth of sexuality education, and sexual violence,” but never mentioned the consequences or risks associated with aborting a fetus.
Northup made it seem as though abortion was only risky if only done illegally. When women attempt abortions themselves or get them illegally, she wrote, “tens of thousands die or suffer debilitating damage to their health.”
But abortions done legally carry plenty of risks for the mother, including death.
Northup also disliked the Catholic Church’s influence in the Philippines, where contraception is frowned upon. She wrote, “the policy banning modern methods of contraception causes irreparable damage.” She also worried that in Europe that Church’s influence has caused, “backsliding on access to reproductive health services.”