I’ve been reading about the appointment of Alexia Kelley, executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, as director of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the Department of Health and Human Services. (Quite a mouthful, that.) It is being repeated as fact all over the blogosphere that Kelley is opposed to contraception. However, all of these reports seem to trace back to just two sources. The first is an unsubstantiated claim in a Salon article by Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice.
What Greenberger and others will want to know is why the post, which includes oversight of the department’s faith-based grant-making in family planning, HIV and AIDS and in small-scale research into the effect of religion and spirituality on early sexual behavior, has gone to someone who both believes abortion should be illegal and opposes contraception. That’s right — Kelley’s group of self-described progressive Catholics takes a position held by only a small minority, that the Catholic church is right to prohibit birth control.
What’s Kissling’s evidence for this claim? I have no idea. She doesn’t say.
The other source is a TAPPED article in which Sarah Posner builds her entire case on one out-of-context quote.
Kelley and CACG have made clear they are committed to Catholic doctrine on abortion and birth control. CACG has supported the Pregnant Women’s Support Act, aimed at stigmatizing abortion and making it less accessible. In discussing legislation on reducing the need for abortion, Kelley has written that various pieces of legislation concerned with women’s health “are not all perfect; some include contraception — which the Church opposes.”
Well, yes. From the Catholic Church’s perspective, legislation which funds contraception or would require Catholic employers to provide insurance that includes contraception is imperfect. It’s impossible to tell from this truncated quote whether this is a perspective Kelley herself shares or whether she’s simply reporting a fact. And given Posner’s thorough misstatement of the goals of the Pregnant Women Support Act, I’m not going to assume that she’s interpreting Kelley’s statement correctly.
I checked CACG’s website and could find no mention of their stance on contraception, let alone Alexia Kelley’s. They do, however, link to the pro-contraception National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
I’m not saying Alexia Kelley is pro-contraception. I don’t know what her position is. I just don’t think most of the people criticizing her know either.