Six out of 10 US Catholics say abortion should be legal, report says - TAI News
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Beaded brown rosary. (James Coleman / Unsplash)

A significant number of the 20% of Americans who describe themselves as Catholic do not subscribe to the teachings of the Catholic Church on abortion, says a report published by the Pew Research Center.

According to Pew, while the Catholic Church staunchly opposes abortion as “gravely contrary to the moral law,” nearly six in 10 Catholics say it should be legal in most cases.

The report pointed out that the opinions of Catholic respondents largely aligned with their political affiliation: 78% of Catholic Democrats and 43% of Catholic Republicans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Non-Catholic Democrats were 8% more supportive of legal abortion than Catholic Democrats.

Additionally, nearly 60% of white Catholic voters and 63% of Hispanic Catholic voters said abortion should be legal.

Jamie L. Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, said her main takeaway from the report is that a majority of Catholics support legal abortion.

“This narrative that you can’t be Catholic and pro-choice yet again has been proven false,” Manson told the the American Independent. “And I think Catholics are supporting abortion rights in good conscience and I think many of them because of their faith, not in spite of it.”

She explained that an understanding of individual conscience and social justice are fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church. 

“These bans and restrictions cause disproportionate suffering to those who are already suffering — people who are poor, vulnerable, in various states of powerlessness, facing other kinds of injustices,” Manson said. “I think Catholics are very good at reflecting on their lived experience and integrating it into their moral discernment.”

Pew found that 56% of Catholics voted Republican in the 2022 congressional midterm elections and 43% voted Democrat. This a notable change from the 2020 presidential election, in which Catholic voters were evenly divided between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Pew found that only about three in 10 Catholics attend Mass regularly, meaning weekly or more. For those who attend either monthly or less, 68% support abortion, whereas of those who attend weekly, only 34% support abortion.

“I think it has been well documented that the No. 1 reason that people leave the church is because its teachings on sexuality and reproductive health are rigid and inadequate to meet the needs and complexities of what families are facing in their day-to-day lives,” Manson said.

She added that she believes that when members of the Catholic hierarchy see the results of surveys reflecting low numbers of people attending Mass regularly, they attribute it to growing secularism.

“But in fact, people are not leaving the church; the church is leaving them,” Manson said. “They’re not meeting them in their greatest moments of need. They’re not encountering them in their moral questions. They’re not companioning them in their ethical discernment. I think it’s hard for people to believe in something that clearly does not take their experiences and their voices seriously.”

In 2018, Pope Francis compared having an abortion to “hiring a hit man.” Two days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, which handles questions of ethics of life and medicine, commended the ruling, saying, “The fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world.”

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The Wisconsin Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.