After Ohio voters approved an amendment to the state constitution Tuesday night enshrining abortion rights, the Archbishop of Cincinnati said the result illustrates “a desperate need for conversion of hearts and minds to a culture of life in our country.”
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr released a video statement shortly after it became clear that Issue 1, a ballot measure that creates a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including “decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy.”
The measure passed with roughly 57 percent of the vote, according to early results, with Ohio being the lone state in which abortion rights were on the ballot in this election cycle. According to some estimates, abortion rights backers poured $30 million into the campaign in just the past few months, while pro-life forces spent around $20 million.
Schnurr, who had helped lead the charge to reject the amendment, expressed disappointment in the result.
“The people of Ohio missed this important opportunity to demonstrate that the health and safety of women, the fundamental rights of parents, and the lives of preborn children deserve protection,” he said.
“Despite this outcome, we are grateful for all of you who prayed, educated yourselves and others, and voted NO on this horrific amendment,” Schnurr said.
Abortion is currently legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy in Ohio, but a ban on the procedure after six weeks briefly went into effect last year before being challenged in court. Ohio now becomes the seventh state to adopt protections for abortion rights after a Supreme Court decision last year which overturned 1973’s Roe v. Wade.
“The passage of Issue 1 shows that there remains a desperate need for conversion of hearts and minds to a culture of life in our country, one that respects the inherent dignity and sacredness of every human being from conception to natural death,” Schnurr said.
“This conversion will only come about through the witness of our earnest prayer and compassionate care for the most vulnerable among us,” he said.
Going forward, Schnurr called on his archdiocese to continue to work to persuade women not to have abortions.
“I urge everyone in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to redouble support for the many Catholic ministries that provide material resources and personal accompaniment to women, children and families so that abortion ceases to be a consideration,” he said.
Schnurr, 75, is a former associate general secretary of the U.S. bishops’ conference.
The ballot measure in Ohio was closely watched not only in terms of abortion policy, but also a potential bellwether for the looming 2024 presidential election. In the wake of the passage of Issue 1, President Joe Biden issued his own statement applauding the result.
“Ohioans and voters across the country rejected attempts by MAGA Republican elected officials to impose extreme abortion bans that put the health and lives of women in jeopardy, force women to travel hundreds of miles for care, and threaten to criminalize doctors and nurses for providing the healthcare that their patients need and that they are trained to provide,” Biden said.
“This extreme and dangerous agenda is out-of-step with the vast majority of Americans,” he said.