WASHINGTON, July 21 /PRNewswire/ --

- July 25th Marks 40th Anniversary of Vatican's Devastating Decision

Forty years ago, a decision was announced that has had a catastrophic impact on the poor and powerless around the world. On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI slammed the door on the hopes of the vast majority of Catholics and confirmed a complete prohibition on modern methods of contraception. The papal encyclical Humanae Vitae was a defining moment in modern church history and continues to be a source of great conflict and division in the church.

It is a little-known fact that before Humanae Vitae was released the hand-picked Vatican Birth Control Commission voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the church rescind its ban on artificial contraception. However, the pope rejected that recommendation and today, the rupture that Humanae Vitae caused between the Vatican and lay Catholics remains.

Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, called on Catholics to contact their bishop and tell them that the ban must end. In their calls and e-mails, Catholics should press their bishops to contact the Vatican, explain the will of Catholics worldwide and call for an end to the ban on contraception. He said, "It is well known that Catholics, particularly those in the global north, have ignored this ban. It is time for them to speak out and say enough is enough. We need Catholics to pick up the telephone or send an e-mail to their local bishop saying that it is time to change church policy. Less-privileged people - who often only have access to health care through Catholic-run facilities or live in countries where the Catholic hierarchy has considerable influence over public policy - are dying as a result of the ban."

The danger was significant when unintended pregnancy and maternal mortality were the predominant risks, but with the advent of HIV and AIDS, it is essential that individual Catholics speak out. Catholics for Choice will be campaigning around the anniversary and for the rest of the year.

To mark the anniversary, Catholics for Choice has released a new publication, Truth & Consequence: A Look behind the Vatican's Ban on Contraception, which uncovers the history and current impact of the ban.

-- To view the full press release, visit www.CatholicsForChoice.org.-

Web site: http://www.CatholicsForChoice.org

Jen Heitel Yakush of Catholics for Choice, +1-202-986-6093