my experience of Catholicism is that there are different streams, one that can accept things like sex before marriage and various other arrangements that work within the local community. More and more the Vatican has grown out-of-touch and somewhat irrelevant. And they remain challenged on whole host of fronts, like the participation of women within the hierarchy or the role of sex within the priesthood, all by people who consider themselves very Catholic.
When it comes to abortion though, the noisy radicals take the Vatican's position and run with it, and make it much more imposing than anything else that goes on with the church. I was looking at being exposed to anti-abortion propaganda in religious classes. I got my parents to sign a form allowing me to drop out of religion classes altogether. I ended up with a half spare. It was a good deal.