Pro-Choice or Not?

Today I would like to write about something that has been on my mind for a while.  As I see polarization increasing in our nation to the point where true dialogue almost seems impossible, I want to seek understanding and true dialogue.  Polarization is also surfacing in our church.  This wounds me.  When I pray, I truly pray thy will be done.  “Thy” is God’s Will, not mine or any other human being.  I place my trust in God.

My topic for this article is choice. 

The identification of “pro-choice” is most often invoked by those who support abortion.  They speak of a woman’s right to choose.  They do not see the infant in the womb as a life.  Thus, they do not acknowledge the rights of infants in the womb or the infants’ choice.

The politics involved in this troubles me.  In her recent statement following a decision by the New York State Court of Appeals, Governor Hochul referred to the “right-wing extremists” who sought a religious exemption for mandated coverage for abortion.  I fail to see how language like “right-wing” accomplishes anything except increasing the polarization.  I also wonder how people like Governor Hochul claim to be pro-choice when they deny those of us who are pro-life our choice to not fund abortion.

I said at the beginning of this article, this has been on my mind for a while.  I think what prompted me to write about it now is that last week I learned that a bill has been introduced in the New York State legislature that would declare that an embryo outside the womb is not a child and has no rights.  While I know some people think this to be true, it greatly saddened me that anyone would formally propose legislation to declare this (see New York State Catholic Conference Memorandum of Opposition on this).  Is this not the flip-side of the right wing extremism that Governor Hochul spoke of recently?  I would suspect the timing of this follows the Alabama Supreme Court decision that says embryos are children (see my article, “There is Hope in Alabama).

I pray for true dialogue towards understanding that embryos are not simply a clump of cells.  What some call a “clump of cells” is a child who is alive.  I know from the depths of my heart that life begins at conception.  In secular terms, a unique individual is formed at conception with his or her full genetic makeup set.  Nothing will change that.  The embryo is a child just as much as it will be the day the child emerges from its mother’s womb at birth.  Birth (emerging from its mother’s womb) does not change anything about the child’s identity.  The only thing that changes is that we can see the child as we see any other human person.  Seeing the child face to face, we can no longer deny that the child exists.

Those who identify as pro-choice on the issue of abortion sometimes want to silence people like me who are pro-life for interfering with the right of a woman to choose abortion.  I would like them to answer a question.  If a woman does not hear arguments against abortion, is she really free in making her choice?  Is she making an informed choice?  To make an informed choice, she must know the arguments against abortion. 

Abortion is not the only moral issue where freedom of choice is used to say it must be allowed. Today people argue that people must be free to choose their gender identity regardless of their biological gender.  Again, if the people experiencing gender confusion are to make an informed choice, they need to hear arguments that hold to their biological gender. 

Those who identify as pro-choice speak of the rights of an individual.  People like me who know that the embryo is a child and is alive, speak up for the child and their rights.  We speak for the children who cannot speak for themselves.

On issues like abortion and transgenderism, those who identify as pro-choice, say the person must be free to choose for themselves.  Yet, they want to take away the parental rights of parents whose children are pregnant or struggling with gender confusion.  Do they not yet understand that a 12 year-old is not mature enough to make these life altering decisions for themselves?  When the child does something the pro-choice people do not agree with, they may blame the parents.  When the child acts the way the pro-choice people want, they say parents who object are interfering with their child’s rights.  This does not make sense to me.

To those who argue for “freedom of choice,” what about my freedom to choose?  It used to be that it was illegal to use government funds to pay for abortions.  Now, there is government funding.  In some states like New York, out of state residents who pay no New York State taxes can come here to receive an abortion at no cost if they are not able to get an abortion in their own state.  What about my choice to not have my tax dollars used to fund abortions that violate my beliefs?

If people should be able to choose to have an abortion, then why should a healthcare worker be denied their choice to not perform or assist in abortions?  Why should a pharmacist be denied their choice to not provide abortion drugs, contraception, or gender-altering drugs?  If one is going to argue from the perspective of choice, then “choice” must be something everyone has.

Last week I learned of a case in Los Angeles where a worker was fired for not agreeing to raise a gay pride flag.  What about their choice?  Forcing them to raise the pride flag is forcing them to promote something against their beliefs and choice.  The task of raising the flag could have easily been assigned to someone else.    

What about assisted suicide (it used to be called euthanasia.  Now supporters want to call it aid in dying to make it sound compassionate)?  When the patient cannot speak for themselves, how can we ensure their choice is respected if they are against assisted suicide?  Even if the patient can speak for themselves, how do we make sure they aren’t being coerced?  How do we make sure they understand the moral and spiritual significance (beyond physical death) of their choice?  They too must know the arguments against assisted-suicide if they are to make an informed choice.

In May the New York State Attorney General went against pro-life pregnancy centers who offer the abortion reversal pill, saying there is not scientific proof that the abortion reversal pill works (see Daniel Payne, “New York attorney general sues pregnancy centers over abortion pill reversal statements”).  I do not know how she could say this because it is proven fact that the abortion reversal pill does work because it has.  It does not always stop the abortion but it can.  Now, the Alliance Defending Freedom is suing the attorney general’s office on behalf of the pro-life pregnancy centers (see Kate Quinones, “New York attorney general sued for ‘targeting’ pro-life pregnancy centers”).  If we want people to make choices for themselves, then they need to know the abortion reversal pill is an option.

Now, New York State is seeking to force private schools, including religious schools, to welcome students who claim a gender other than their biological gender (see New York State Catholic Conference, “Memorandum of Opposition Re: S3180-A Hoylman-Sigal / A1829-B Jean-Pierre Creates the “Nonpublic Dignity for All Students Act”).  This denies the choice of the school.  The school not accepting modern gender ideology is not denying the student an education.  The student can choose another school that agrees with them. 

I am afraid, afraid that some of those who identify as pro-choice have gone so far as to make “freedom” their god.  They make freedom the supreme good without any regard to truth.  They even go so far as to say there is no universal truth (yes, once again I speak of relativism).  I believe, actually I know that is a universal truth.  There is a right and wrong.  We do not get to decide what is right and wrong.  We only discern to know what is right and wrong.  If you want to know the truth, ask God.

As to freedom, yes, we have free will.  To make good use of free will, we need to make informed decisions.  I ask those who identify as pro-choice to allow people to hear arguments against their own ideologies.

I will end with a quote I have been using often lately from Pope John Paul II, “Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought” (“Homily of his holiness John Paul II” during his Apostolic Journey to America. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. October 8, 1995., 7.)


Fr. Jeff


Tyler Arnold, “Lawsuit: Los Angeles Co. Fire Dept. ‘retaliated’ against Christian employee who refused to raise Pride flag” Catholic News Agency. 6/1/24.

Governor Hochul, “Statement from Governor Hochul.”  May 21, 2024 (following NYS Court of Appeals upholding NYS insurance Mandate for Abortion).,care%20and%20safeguard%20abortion%20rights.

Matt McDonald, “Tennessee bans minors’ interstate gender transitioning without parental consent” Catholic News Agency.  May 31, 2024.

New York State Catholic Conference, “Fertilized Ovum or Embryo Outside of Uterus Not Considered Human Being, Statement of Opposition.”  May 29, 2024.

            You can read the bill itself at

New York State Catholic Conference, “Memorandum of Opposition Re: S3180-A Hoylman-Sigal / A1829-B Jean-Pierre Creates the “Nonpublic Dignity for All Students Act” 5/29/24.

You can read the bill itself at

Daniel Payne, “New York attorney general sues pregnancy centers over abortion pill reversal statements” Catholic News Agency.  5/6/24.

St. Pope John Paul, “Homily of his holiness John Paul II” during his Apostolic Journey to America. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. October 8, 1995., 7.).

Kate Quinones, “New York attorney general sued for ‘targeting’ pro-life pregnancy centers.”  Catholic News Agency. 5/29/24.

Fr. Jeffrey S. Tunnicliff, “There is Hope in Alabama.”  2/27/24 –

Fr. Jeffrey S. Tunnicliff, Towards Dignity and Truth:  Compassionate Dialogue and Pastoral Response on Transgenderism.  September 22, 2023.


  1. Carol H Clendenin on 06/06/2024 at 8:59 pm

    Fr. Jeff,

    You address too many issues in this blog for my comment today. I will say that if you want to reduce abortion as you often state, then you should be for women to continue to have the legal and moral right to use contraception if they choose to do so. If there is no conception there is no life.

    Freedom is not my God, but it is important to have in any democratic form of government which values the rule of law. I also worry about polarization in our society and agree that we should listen to each other and consider alternative viewpoints in making important life decisions. This kind of listening is important in any democratic society. Regarding the Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion it was not perfect, but it was an adequate compromise in our pluralistic and diverse society.

    • Fr. Jeff on 06/07/2024 at 6:17 am

      Thank you for your comment Carol.

      Your comments about contraception are not unique but they are more than I can address in a short comment here. I just made some notes to write an article about why contraception raises its own moral questions such that it does not escape moral examination attached to abortion. It just changes the immediate question. Look for a new article on contraception soon.

      As to freedom, I am presently reading Citizens Yet Strangers: Living Authentically Catholic in a Divided America by Kenneth Craycraft (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor. 2024). In it he addresses the challenge of our American “radical individualism” in living our Catholic faith in solidarity with one another.


      Fr. Jeff

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