Currents News Staff
It’s a matter of life and death.
It’s no surprise that Catholics are passionate about protecting the rights of the unborn. But misinformation around the issue can sometimes cloud the progress being made in converting more hearts.
Gloria Purvis is a pro-life Catholic consultant for the USCCB’s committee on Religious Liberty and the host of her own podcast, “The Gloria Purvis Podcast.” She believes the way we think about abortion in minority communities needs to change.
“I think there’s a misconception that black people are some abortion-loving seeking people and we’re not,” Gloria said. “We have people saying that abortion for people of color is their way to access greater economic stability and is often pushed on communities of color as this is a solution to all that ails us. But I reject that because I don’t believe that a way of solving poverty is to kill the poor.”
Even though abortions are trending down across the country from 857,000 in 2000 to 630,000 in 2019, low-income women and women of color have higher rates than affluent and white women, according to the National Institutes of Health.
But Gloria says that even those numbers could be inaccurate because women with more financial means seek abortions privately, where the actual totals may never be reported.
The Church’s teaching on abortion is definitive: killing an unborn child under any circumstances is not an option. Yet, many Catholics struggle with the topic, leading to misrepresentations that go beyond communities of color.
Dr. Tricia Bruce is a sociologist associated with the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Religion and Society. She studies the impact of abortion when it relates to Catholics.
“Many Americans feel a lot more conflicted about abortion than the kinds of labels that are immediately available,” Tricia said. “Labels like pro-choice and pro-life. Instead we had a lot of Americans who said, ‘well, I feel this way in certain circumstances and this way in others.’
Like most Americans, Catholics are divided by party, with those who identify as Republican opposed 63 percent of the time, while Democratic-leaning Catholics are in favor by 77 percent. Studies also found that church attendance matters.
“Catholics who attend Mass more often are more likely to hold a position more opposed to abortion then Catholics who attend Mass less often,” Tricia said.
Most Catholics agree that abortion is morally wrong, just as Americans as a whole are concerned about many issues related to abortion.
“When we asked them in depth, their thoughts on abortion, they brought up not just abortion but so many other issues,” Tricia said. “Inequality and access for support for pregnant women or support for families or support in the workplace so people can afford to provide a good life for children they may have.”
Gloria, who’s based in Washington, went on to say that if Roe vs. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court later this year, it will be more important than ever for pro-life movements at the state level to offer more robust assistance and outreach to women in communities of color.
“Yes, we know abortion as Catholics is a grave evil according to our understanding but it does not mean that the people who perhaps forced or coerced or desperate into having an abortion are themselves evil people,” Gloria said. “They’re just people in crisis that need our help, love and understanding.”