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Planned Parenthood Slams Pope Francis Over Abortion Speech, Women's Rights

Planned Parenthood Slams Pope Francis Over Abortion Speech, Women's Rights

By    @cristymsilva  on 

Planned Parenthood has harsh words for Pope Francis after the leader of the Roman Catholic Church championed life -- including before birth -- in his address to Congress on Thursday. Francis and the church are limiting women's rights by urging Catholics not to use contraception, said a spokesman for the women's health organization.
"Despite Pope Francis’ progressive stance on climate change and economic equity, he has taken a back seat when it comes to reproductive health and women’s rights," said Alexander Sanger, board member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation for the Western Hemisphere Region, in a statement Friday. "The pope and the Catholic Church must acknowledge the fact that 99 percent of Catholic women use contraception and have abortions at the same rate as other women. His pursuit to stifle contraception access reduces women to basic purveyors of biological materials and denies them the right to plan their own families. The pope has to listen to what women want, and women all over the world want access to contraception."

Francis obliquely referenced abortion during his historic speech to Congress -- the first for a pope. "I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without," the pope told the crowd of legislators, Supreme Court justices and multiple presidential candidates.
The Catholic Church forbids the use of contraceptives and abortions. Francis, however, recently toldpriests they could absolve women who confess to “the sin of abortion” during the church’s coming Year of Mercy if they seek forgiveness with a “contrite heart.”
Francis said in January that families are under threat from efforts to “redefine family” and a culture that lacks “openness to life."
Abortion access has been under attack in recent years in the United States by conservative lawmakers. Roughly one in three American women will have an abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, data indicates.
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UN Sustainable Development Goals

No More Déjà Vu

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will define the global development agenda for the next 15 years, will be formally adopted by heads of state at the United Nations beginning today. 
The goals set out an integrated plan for achieving global equity by eradicating poverty, combatting climate change, and ensuring educational equity, among others. They also include a goal on achieving gender equality, and call for the realization of universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception. 
The creation of this agenda has been in process for years, and its finalization was a hard-won victory that required sustained advocacy by International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region staff and our partners throughout the Americas and Caribbean. And, the SDGs are a huge step forward from the its predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which did not encompass reproductive health until after their formal adoption in 2000.
But while this new agenda is a victory in terms of building international consensus on reducing inequalities as a shared global enterprise, it fails to take into account some of the lessons learned from the MDGs, specifically in relation to accountability and implementation. This is especially true at the local level where individuals are most likely to access sexual and reproductive health services.
Take for example the ambitious Millennium Development Goal on maternal mortality, which set out to reduce deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth by three-quarters by 2015. In the sexual and reproductive health and rights community, this goal has the distinctive dishonor of being one of the least realized MDGs. While these unnecessary deaths have decreased significantly in many countries, in others, rates have remained stagnant. In Trinidad and Tobago, the maternal mortality ratio has actually risen in recent years!
Once the goals are formally adopted by governments, the UN Secretary General has the opportunity to guide UN agencies in helping governments implement the promises they made in New York. Let's hope that these implementation plans are robust and meaningful. Let's hope that women and girls are central to these implementation plans, not only on issues related to reproductive health, but on all of the issues in which women and girls bear the brunt of the burden of inequity: education, employment, poverty, and sanitation. 
It's time. Women and girls have waited long enough.
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Alexander Sanger
Alexander C. Sanger, the grandson of Margaret Sanger, who founded the birth control movement over eighty years ago, is currently Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council.
Mr. Sanger previously served as the President of Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) and its international arm, The Margaret Sanger Center International (MSCI) for ten years from 1991 - 2000.

Mr. Sanger speaks around the country and the world and has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Population Fund.

Beyond Choice
Beyond Choice
The new book by Alexander Sanger published by PublicAffairs

Purchase from

Click here for full book information

With reproductive freedom in jeopardy, Alexander Sanger, grandson of renowned family planning advocate Margaret Sanger and a longtime leader in the reproductive rights movement, has taken an urgent, fresh look at the pro-choice position—and even the pro-life position—and finds them necessary, but insufficient. In Beyond Choice he offers the first major re-thinking of these positions in thirty years.

“Well researched and readable, Beyond Choice should be required reading for both pro-choice and pro-life supporters.”
—Governor Christine Todd Whitman


» Much more on Beyond Choice, including an excerpt, discussion guides, reviews
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External Links
» Eugenics, Race, and Margaret sanger Revisited: Reproductive Freedom for All?
Hypatia, Indiana University Press
Recent Press
» Abortion in the Spotlight [PDF]
Tina Morlock, Oklahoma City Pioneer

» Advocate: Abortion does involve morality
Paul Swiech, The Pantagraph

» Planned Parenthood founder: Republican Party is pro-choice
Elaine Hopkins, The Journal Star

» Women's Studies seminar covers controversial topic
Jamie Smith, The Daily Vidette

» Luncheon promotes teen responsibility
Dahlia Weinstein, Rocky Mountain News
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External Links
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» The Margaret Sanger Papers Project, NYU History Dept.

» When Sex Counts: Making Babies and Making Law, by Sherry Colb