Castro-Rodríguez, DeSantis and Miami’s establishment vs. choice

A lot of Catholics in the USA are Hispanic, and like a lot of Anglos of the same faith, are also pro-choice. That annoys many Florida Republicans, and gets ignored by Miami’s Spanish-language media. Photo by Catholics for Choice.

Republican priorities, media collusion

by Manuel Castro-Rodríguez

I write again to and about Miami´’s GOP Members of Congress — María Elvira Salazar, Carlos Giménez, Mario Díaz-Balart, and Marco Rubio — on women’s reproductive rights, Catholics for Choice, and their party’s contradictions. For example, COVID-19 policy making has been at the center of attention in the United States since early 2020, but:

1- Republicans have been changing state laws to try to get out of federal vaccine mandates, in spite of that vaccines still prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death; for instance, in United Airlines employee deaths dropped to zero after vaccine mandate.

2- Governor DeSantis’s war on three Miami-Dade School Board members: “Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his team — principally Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, because she is from here — recruited hardline Republicans to challenge three Miami-Dade School Board members that didn’t toe the GOP line against mandated COVID-19 facemasks.”

3- Miami-Dade Public School Board member Dr. Marta Pérez alleges Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez has insisted people not support her campaign to keep her seat or “bad things will happen.”

Besides, a Biden administration task force has reunited 400 migrant children separated by the Trump administration with their families, but advocates say more than 1,000 still remain apart. Republican leaders are very “humane” people — anyone doubt?

Republicans are prioritizing one of their main obsessions: interfering with people’s personal medical decisions about women’s reproductive rights just like communist dictators. Kansas’ strong vote in favor of abortion rights — coming in a state long dominated by Republicans — has abortion rights supporters ready to go on the offensive in the November election, encouraged by an unexpectedly commanding victory, but self-censorship at Miami’s Spanish-language stations on the Catholics for choice continues — anyone surprised?

Miami voters need to know that Jennifer Villavicencio is a Cuban-American who was born in Miami, Florida. She heads equity transformation for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, as it’s known. She is a member of the Catholics for Choice board of directors.

Photo by Catholics for Choice.


Giving a woman a legal right to have control and agency over her body translates to other aspects of her life, namely her freedom to claim political, economic, and social autonomy. The bishops reject the notion that women are equal to men. So how could they possibly support any right that would lead women into that kind of power and liberty?

Jamie L. Manson
President of Catholics for Choice


Catholics for Choice “was founded in 1973 to serve as a voice for Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health.”

The members of the Catholics for Choice Board of Directors represent leaders from politics, medicine, business and beyond. For example:

• Linda Pinto, the board chair, is a former Franciscan nun, retired from a career in subsidized senior housing and healthcare. She helped to establish Project Self-Sufficiency, a non profit dedicated to supporting single-parent families. She currently serves as the co-chair of CORPUS, the National Association for an Inclusive Priesthood.
• Sheila Briggs teaches at the University of Southern California. She is a feminist theologian and historian of Christianity who explores the relationship of religion, gender, and sexuality to ancient slavery, to popular culture, and to science and technology.
• Kate Ott is professor of Christian social ethics at Drew Theological School. Her scholarship focuses on sexuality and reproductive justice, youth and young adults, technology, and professional ethics. Her newest book is “Sex, Tech, and Faith: Christian Ethics in a Digital Age.” She lectures and leads workshops across North America on technology and sexuality issues related to faith formation for teens, young adults, parents, and religious educators and professionals.
• Meghan Holden is the communications director for the ACLU of Connecticut. She is a graduate of Wheaton College in Massachusetts and has worked in development, policy, and communications roles with organizations focused on girls’ empowerment, feminist literature, reproductive freedom and justice, abolition, and financial support for people living with HIV.

My mother was a Catholic for choice because my parents were poor. Although according to Cuba’s Social Defense Code of 1938 (Código de Defensa Social de Cuba de 1938) abortion was legal only if the pregnant woman’s life was in danger, if there was rape or to prevent hereditary illnesses transmission, the real practice was very different. For example, San Miguel del Padrón is a suburb in Havana, Cuba. I was born and raised in La Rosalía — which was a poor neighborhood situated very nearby to Virgen del Camino — where abortion was a fairly common practice, because the women who seek abortions tend to be low-income mothers.

I am an only child because my parents were poor; that was common in my neighborhood, regardless of religious beliefs — for example, my mother took me every Sunday to Convent of Santa Clara de Asís in Lawton, until dictator Fidel Castro closed it down in 1960. I remember gynecologist Bretón, who had his office in Calzada de Luyanó very nearby to Hijas de Galicia hospital, and several White American women came to his office with the purpose of get an in-clinic abortion.

According to University of Colorado Boulder research published on October 25 in the Journal Demography, banning abortion nationwide would lead to a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy-related deaths overall and a 33% increase among Black women.

Compared with 10 other high-income countries, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate. What have Miami’s GOP Members of Congress done to prevent this serious national problem? My late father’s favorite expression was “by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Poor, Black and Hispanic people bear the brunt of Texas abortion law. The same will happen in Florida, which ranks 19th among the states in its poverty rate. In Florida, the poorest women are African Americans, followed by Native Americans and Latinas. Cuban American women can go to Cuba with the purpose of abortion, economically benefiting the communist dictatorship. But, what will happen to others, to  poor Floridian women?

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday suspended Tampa’s elected prosecutor, Andrew Warren, for pledging not to use his office to go after people who seek and provide abortions or on doctors that provide gender affirming care to transgender people. Warren responded hours later, accusing DeSantis of “trying to overthrow democracy here in Hillsborough County.”

At a previously planned news conference, during which he unveiled two suspects in a pair of 40-year-old cold case murders, Warren defiantly declared: “I’m still the duly elected state attorney of Hillsborough County.” Minority Leader Senator Lauren Book said DeSantis was “behaving more like a dictator than ‘America’s governor.'” Senator Book is OK.

Why have South Florida journalists not yet talked about Catholics for Choice? You should follow the example of the independent journalism in Cuba. Can liberal democracy survive if journalists don’t do their job well?

The right to abortion is an affirmation that women and girls have the right to control their own destiny. Although the Supreme Court’s move to overturn Roe v Wade had been expected since a draft majority opinion was leaked in early May, when the ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization came on June 24, it was a shattering blow to those, like I, who believe in the scientific realities of human reproduction.

Manuel Castro-Rodríguez, a Miami resident, was born and raised in Cuba and lived in Panama for several years.


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