Monday, June 11, 2007

Philadelphia, City of “Brotherly Love,” Declared Officially "Pro-Choice” by City Council

By Elizabeth O’Brien

PHILADELPHIA, June 11, 2007 ( – A motion narrowly passed by Philadelphia’s City Council has given the city the new official title of “pro-choice”.

During and after the contentious vote, a storm of controversy raged in the council and divided city leaders about whether “pro-choice” is a name that truly represents the city. The Philadelphia Enquirer explains that the title supports, “women's reproductive rights and freedom” as well as “the right to choose a legal and safe abortion as a final but critical option for women.”

After much debate the resolution only squeezed by with a 9 to 8 majority.

Archbishop Justin Rigali, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, officially and indignantly rejected the title as being “inconsistent with reality”.

Rigali based his objections on both moral and logical grounds: “In a city where so many people vigorously defend life at every stage, proclaiming Philadelphia ‘pro-choice’ is inconsistent with reality. It unfairly saddles those who support life at all stages with this shameful label.”

He asked “people of good will” to join him in “rejecting the divisive and erroneous label that Philadelphia City Council has forced upon the citizens of Philadelphia today.” He continued, “I reject the resolution because so many heroic efforts are made continually to safeguard unborn children from the evil of abortion, to protect vulnerable children and families and to defend all women and men in crisis.”

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced the new resolution at the request of Planned Parenthood, which organization helped her draft the proposal.

“We wanted to make it clear this city cares about pro-choice,” said Brown. “They asked me to do it. I agreed with their views and I agreed to introduce the resolution. At the end of the day, we have to decide what we want the city to look like and be about.”

Councilman Brian J. O'Neill, on the other hand, rejected the resolution on the grounds of true democracy and justice. “There are people we represent on both sides of this issue. This is a pro-choice and a pro-life city,” said O’Neill, according to The Bulletin. “Both sides represent the entire city of Philadelphia, not just one side. This resolution is disrespectful to taxpayers who are pro-life.”

Earlier this year Archbishop Rigali, speaking to a congregation of approximately 10,000 who attended the Vigil Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, pointed out that America is becoming increasingly pro-life. On the eve of Roe vs. Wade he stated, “More and more citizens are coming to question abortion and to recognize—as a starting point for deeper conversion—that there is something radically wrong with abortion and the support given it by our laws. There is a growing realization that human life and human dignity cannot be suppressed without immense damage to the entire fabric of our nation and numerous consequences.” (see full story

See video version of Cardinal Rigali’s statement:

Original Press Release from the Archdiocesan Office

See related coverage:

Archbishop Leads Nearly 1000 in March and Prayer Outside Abortuary

Philadelphia Cardinal Wishes for More Bishops who Speak Strongly on Abortion and Homosexuality

To Contact the Philadelphia City Council and Respectfully Voice Concerns:

Blondell Reynolds Brown
City Hall Room 581
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215.686.3438/3439
Fax: 215.686.1926

The Honorable John F. Street, Mayor
City Hall
Room 215
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215.686.2181 (Phone)

To Contact the Cardinal:
Office of Cardinal Rigali
222 North 17th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1299
Phone: 215-587-3800