By Dave Andrusko
Last Saturday in a letter posted to the archdiocesan website, Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr urged Catholics in the state of Ohio to vote against the deceptively titled “Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety.”
“We must reject this extraordinary and dangerous attempt to radically reshape Ohio through a constitutional amendment that does nothing to aid women or promote life,” the Archbishop wrote. “Ohio does not need a constitutional amendment that only perpetuates violence and a culture of death.”
If passed the amendment would dictate that Ohio “shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against” a woman’s attempt to get an abortion.
“State law currently prohibits abortion after the point at which an unborn child’s heartbeat is detected, generally around six weeks of pregnancy,” Daniel Payne wrote for the Catholic News Agency.
Under the amendment, lawmakers could prohibit abortion “after fetal viability,” or when a child could survive outside its mother’s uterus, generally at around 24 weeks of pregnancy. The state would be prohibited from doing so, however, in cases where a doctor determined that an abortion was necessary to protect the mother’s “life or health.”
Archbishop Schnurr directly confronted the notion that “Some may insist that the Catholic Church should not be involved in politics.” He wrote in response
“However, the defense of life and care for women compels our participation in this critical moral issue. …We cannot remain silent on a direct ballot question like the one in November. The Church must not remain on the sidelines when confronted with such a clear threat to human life and dignity and the primacy of the family.”
The Archbishop also wrote about some of the pervasive lies that proponents of the amendment espouse:
The amendment’s supporters will claim that its passage is necessary to preserve medical treatment for women who experience miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies. This is not true. No Ohio laws – or the laws of any U.S. state, for that matter – prevent such treatment. Hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, and physicians have always provided comprehensive miscarriage care, and will continue to do so regardless of the outcome of this vote.
He concluded in his letter
I urge Catholics and all people of goodwill to pray earnestly for the defeat of this extreme amendment; to educate yourselves and your family and friends about the dangers of the proposed amendment; and to vote NO on November 7. Beyond that, we must continue our commitment to caring for women, children and families.
Ohioans earlier this month defeated Issue 1 by a vote of 57% to 43%. Issue 1 would have raised the threshold to change the Ohio state constitution from a simple majority vote to a vote of 60%.
But pro-life Gov. Mike DeWine promised to keep talking about the proposed amendment. “Now that this constitutional amendment is on the ballot, we need to focus on that,” he said after the battle over Issue 1 to protect the constitution was defeated. He called the proposed amendment “a “radical approach” and out of step with Ohioans’ positions on abortion.