Sexuality Policy Watch

Pope Francis’ decision to forgive women who have abortion is criticized by reproductive rights advocates

Pope Francis once more gained global visibility by allowing priests to forgive women who have had an abortion. His speech — delivered on September first  apparently signaling a Vatican’s step forward in regard to  women’s rights — because it recognized that  “the pressures that lead [women who have abortions] to take  decision”  and, most principally, it authorized Catholic priests to, during the Year of Mercy that begins now and ends in November 20th, 2016,  “to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

The announcement is being harshly criticized by women’s rights movements. The  Reality Check article by Erin Matson interprets  the declaration as another Pope Francis strategy to “expand  his  brand. In her view: “With his latest comments, Pope Francis has built a shiny new smokescreen to distract from the grave and immoral harms caused by the Vatican’s opposition to abortion and women’s equality”. She also added that the proposed forgiveness and related Pope’s comments   “are just stigma masquerading as understanding”.

The same view is shared by the National Coalition of American Nuns (NCAN) that pointed out that the proposed measure does  not  respect women’s autonomy over their bodies, continues to classifies abortion as a sin and doesn’t recognizes the role of men in producing pregnancies. “It continues the practice of men proclaiming what is right and just for women”( click here  NCAN’s statement  ).  Catholics for a Free Choice US has also issued a statement in which the director Joe O’ Brien says that “despite what Pope Francis has said, I do not believe that Catholic women will be queuing up to ask for forgiveness.” Click here to read CCFC statement) 

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