#3 Jon O’Brien, President, Catholics for Choice
Catholics for Choice? On Abortion? Never in the annals of history has any organization been more egregiously misnamed. While Chris Korzen of Catholics United is busy convincing voters that Democrats are “pro-life” because social justice issues are actually life issues, his compatriot Jon O’Brien’s message is that Planned Parenthood’s abortion services are “a model of social justice that we at Catholics for Choice work to support.”
I hope you have a strong stomach if you have to listen to Jon O’Brien because, in his world, up is down and down is up. All levity aside, the confusion sown by Jon O’Brien and his organization is not to be underestimated.
[Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC)] intentionally has positioned itself as a group with views that it calls a “Catholic alternative” to those espoused by the Vatican and Catholic bishops. It carefully and openly has cultivated this reputation with the secular media, which routinely cite its opinion as the lay Catholic viewpoint in opposition to the church hierarchy. This media exposure has enabled the group to present its views as representative of a sizable minority, if not outright majority, of American Catholics.
This seems odd, given that one of CFFC’s most public ventures is its open and aggressive effort to eliminate the Permanent Observer status of the Holy See at the United Nations. And the merest effort by the mass media, say critics, would have revealed that CFFC is run by radical feminists who have forsaken religion for politics and that it is funded by a small number of foundations and wealthy individuals with little or no other perceivable interest in Catholic causes.
Founded by three National Organization for Women (NOW) members in the immediate wake of Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional right to abortion — CFFC has been completely transformed from a noisy shell organization with no employees to a multimillion-dollar international enterprise.
The group’s Form 990s — the IRS tax forms for nonprofits that must be opened to the public — reveal that CFFC has entered the top tier of Washington special-interest groups, with a staggering $15 million raised between 1996 and 2000, the last year for which information is available. CFFC and its international subsidiaries, Catholics for a Free Choice Latin America and Catholics for a Free Decision, have raked in more than 50 foundation grants during that period totaling more than $10 million.