Senior Project Advisor
abortion, reproductive rights, Catholicism, oral history
Despite the hardline anti-abortion position of the Catholic Church, the majority of American Catholics have shown support for abortion and other reproductive freedoms since the 1970s. The organization Catholics for a Free Choice, now known as Catholics for Choice, is a prime example of such support in the face of Church opposition. I posit that the prominence, position, and impact of Catholics for a Free Choice in the 1970s and 1980s displays the existence of a distinctly Catholic pro-choice movement. This movement is set apart by its direct confrontation of Church hierarchy and its primary existence within the Catholic sphere; although the movement also organized with and against secular forces, it was primarily carried out by Catholics, and in later years, its primary opposition became Catholic institutions.
The oral history addendum to this project displays an individual woman’s experiences with bodily autonomy before and after Roe v. Wade. It shows how she navigated both religious and legal barriers to reproductive care. This provides insight into women’s lives at multiple pivotal historical moments, as well as their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings on reproductive issues.
Brady, Claire Elizabeth, "The Cross and the Coat Hanger: Catholics for a Free Choice and the Rise of a Religious Movement" (2022). WWU Honors College Senior Projects. 626.
Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
Abortion--Government policy--United States; Abortion--Law and legislation--United States; Abortion--Religious aspects--Catholic Church; Reproductive rights--United States--History; Women--Interviews
Subjects - Names (LCNAF)
Catholics for a Free Choice (Organization)
oral histories (literary works); essays
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