Press Releases

Monday, November 21, 2016

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Statement on Pope Francis Extending Permission on Abortion Forgiveness

Press Release
RaeAnn Roca Pickett Phone: 202-621-1409 Email:

Washington, D.C. — In response to Pope Francis extending permission on abortion forgiveness, Jessica González-Rojas, executive director for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), issued the following statement:

“Today the Pope, as a faith leader for millions, extended indefinitely the idea of priestly absolution for people who have had abortions, which one in three women will experience in her  lifetime. While we’re heartened to see the Church discussing abortion so openly, these comments continue to fall short in reflecting the realities of women’s lives, and the viewpoints of many Catholics. Despite ongoing prohibition by church doctrine, Catholic Latinas support access to reproductive healthcare, with 90% of married Catholic Latinas using a modern form of contraception and a majority of Latino/a voters—including many Catholics, supporting access to safe and legal abortion services. Moreover, nearly seven in ten Latino/a voters believe abortion should remain legal regardless of whether church leaders oppose it. Half of Latino/a voters agree that “my personal religious values can support a woman making her own decisions about abortion.”

“The Pope’s statements perpetuate the notion that a person who has ended a pregnancy needs forgiveness and contributes to culturally pervasive and deeply harmful abortion stigma. As an organization committed to Latina health and reproductive justice, we reject any attempt to impose judgment or shame on someone based on deeply personal decisions about health, pregnancy, and whether to become a parent. In 2016, it’s far past time for faith leaders to get back in touch with their base and focus on respect and support for those who end a pregnancy, not the same old politics of shame and stigma.” 


The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national reproductive justice organization dedicated to building Latina power to advance health, dignity, and justice for 28 million Latinas, their families and communities in the United States through leadership development, community mobilization, policy advocacy, and strategic communications.