WASHINGTON (RNS) — A group of more than 30 Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a “statement of principles” on Saturday (June 24) reaffirming their support for abortion rights and expanding on a similar letter directed at the American Catholic bishops two years ago.
The lawmakers’ statement, chiefly organized by Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and signed by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, bemoaned the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that had legalized abortion access nationwide for a half century.
Although the court’s move was applauded by leaders in the Catholic Church, which condemns abortion, DeLauro and her co-signers refer to themselves in the statement as voices of the “faithful pro-choice Catholic majority,” noting that polling indicates most U.S. Catholics still support abortion rights.
Most surveys indeed show that Catholics broadly support abortion access. According to a 2022 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, majorities of Hispanic Catholics (61%), white Catholics (62%) and other Catholics of color (71%) all say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
In their statement, the lawmakers railed against various forms of anti-abortion legislation passed or being considered by state legislatures, arguing that “bans and restrictions on abortion disproportionately harm those who already endure poverty, discrimination, and racism.”
It goes on to argue that allowing abortion to be a personal decision is in keeping with Catholic teaching regarding freedom of conscience and suggests restrictive abortion laws can impose one religious view on others — a potential violation of the separation of church and state.
“The fundamental tenets of our Catholic faith — social justice, conscience, and religious freedom — compel us to defend a woman’s right to access abortion,” the statement concludes. “We are committed to advocating for the respect and protection of those making the decision if and when to have children.”
The statement connected the lawmakers’ support for abortion rights with their concerns about other issues. “Our values demand that we dismantle economic insecurity, gender inequality, and systemic racism,” reads the statement.
In addition to DeLauro and Pelosi, other signers of the letter include Reps. Joaquin Castro of Texas, Debbie Dingell of Michigan, Betty McCollum of Minnesota, Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts, Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania and Grace F. Napolitano and Pete Aguilar of California.
Jamie Manson, head of the abortion rights advocacy group Catholics for Choice, praised the letter.
“In today’s hostile and polarized political environment, taking such a principled stance in support of abortion access is both an act of courage and a leap of faith — even though it is in line with the views of the majority of Americans and the beliefs of most U.S. Catholics,” Manson said in her own statement.
She added that she hopes the lawmakers’ letter “inspires more members of the pro-choice majority to speak out about their support for access to abortion care from a place of faith.”