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We must reaffirm commitment to human life

The following letter written by Archbishop Schnurr was originally published in The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday, April 23, 2023. 

God created humans as social beings. We are all dependent upon each other for mutual survival and for the recognition of our common human dignity. There are times when this dependency is most acute, especially in circumstances of vulnerability and poverty.

An expectant mother can face many challenges, including lack of support from the father, financial strains, concerns about her own health and that of her child, and pressures from family and friends. Every woman should be able to depend upon a community of support. That is why Catholic social service agencies, in collaboration with many other faith-based and secular organizations, assist pregnant women in need with material resources and personal accompaniment, both during pregnancy and after their child is born. (For a listing of the many resources available for pregnant women in need in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, please go to https://catholicaoc.org/forlife.) A woman should never feel that she must abandon her dreams due to an unexpected pregnancy, whether she ultimately decides to raise the child herself or place the child for adoption.

The Catholic Church, in Ohio and nationwide, also engages in public policy advocacy for access to quality pre- and post-natal health care, paid parental leave laws, affordable childcare options, preferential housing options for women and young children, and robust child tax credits.

Dependency on others for life and recognition of dignity is equally the case for those still growing in the womb. From the moment of conception, a unique human person exists. Science shows us this. The Catholic Church and many other faiths proclaim this. We might say that, from that point forward, a person’s life stages can be distinguished simply by how much he or she has grown and how dependent upon the actions of others that person is for survival. For example, an unborn child is entirely dependent upon his/her mother to be introduced into the rest of the world; a young child cannot flourish without being raised by others; and an elderly person may depend upon his/her children to make it through the day. Ultimately, we are all dependent upon each other.

At no point should any person, inside or outside the womb, be deemed less of a life because someone else says so. To think otherwise is to objectify that life. Society must never claim for itself the “right” to determine the value, worthiness or dignity of another person for any reason whatsoever, including whether or not that person is wanted. Yet, today, our culture suggests that some humans are more important than others, and those less-important humans might actually be expendable. Pope Francis has lamented, “The throwaway culture says, ‘I use you as much as I need you. When I am not interested in you anymore, or you are in my way, I throw you out.’ It is especially the weakest who are treated this way – unborn children, the elderly, the needy, the disadvantaged.”

We are currently facing an extraordinary threat to the dignity of life right here in Ohio: an amendment (deceptively named “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety”) to the Ohio constitution that would enshrine the “right” to take the lives of innocent children in the womb and harm mothers in the process is being proposed to voters for the November 2023 ballot. This amendment also would remove existing parental notification laws and basic safety standards and enable abortion based solely on a preborn child’s disability diagnosis. Innocent children in the womb would be lost, and their mothers would be both wounded in the moment and emotionally scarred for years to come. Ohio does not need a constitutional amendment that only perpetuates violence and a culture of death.

God alone is the Author and Lord of life. Therefore, the intentional taking of innocent human life, no matter the circumstances, is intrinsically evil and must always be opposed. Any position to the contrary is inconsistent with the constant teaching of the Catholic Church because it is inconsistent with the nature of life itself.

In the name of the one Lord of Life, we must vigorously oppose any suggestion that there exists a “right” to take the life of an unborn child in the womb. Instead, let us all engage in prayer and a joyful outpouring of love and support for pregnant women, especially those most in need. No woman should feel so alone, coerced or hopeless that she chooses to end her child’s life through abortion. I urge everyone throughout Ohio to both pray for and actively assist all expectant mothers. Together, let us redouble our commitment to caring for women, children and families so that abortion is not only illegal, but unthinkable.