In contraception clash, Catholic Latinas stray from doctrine
As the St. Jude Catholic Church’s sanctuary reverberated with the tunes of a Spanish language band shortly before mass on Sunday evening, Amparo Gonzalez, 56, sat in a nearby pew, thumbing through this week’s church bulletin.
There, stamped on page two in English and Spanish, was a stern letter from San Diego’s bishop, Robert Brom, calling President Obama’s recent rule requiring that religious institutions’ health plans cover contraception unjust. He said it violated the collective Catholic conscience.
But after reading it, Gonzalez shrugged.
“I used them for nine years,” she said, unapologetically. “I always took care of myself. I decided to have three children. And I didn’t say, ‘whatever God would like to give me.’ No, it’s my body, it’s my decision.”
In recent weeks, Catholic bishops across the country have turned to their congregations to pressure Obama to repeal his contraception rule. And since Latinos now make up about one-third of all Catholics in the U.S., they should be key players in that campaign.
But women like Gonzalez offer a stark truth, and explain why Latinos’ response has been tepid, almost nonexistent. Polling and data suggest that Gonzalez is among a vast majority of Latina women who have not only used contraception, but who do so even in spite of their churches’ stance on it.
“The reality is that an overwhelming majority of our community uses contraception,” said Kimberly Inez McGuire, a policy analyst at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, which supports contraceptive options for women.
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