Ohio Catholic Dioceses Gave Nearly $1 Million to Fight Abortion Rights Amendment

A polling station sits empty at The Transfiguration Catholic Church in West Milton, Ohio, U.S., on Monday, March 16, 2020. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine invoked a health emergency to close the polls in the state's primary on Tuesday, after a judge rejected his recommendation to postpone voting because of the coronavirus threat. Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The state-level push to protect abortion rights will continue in Ohio in November with activists trying to amend the state constitution to protect reproductive healthcare. And while conservatives have tried to paint local efforts as outside actors pressuring Ohioans to amend the constitution, it turns out one of the largest pushes on either side is from local Catholic archdioceses, which have given nearly $1 million in donations to defeat the pro-abortion Issue 1.

The Catholic Church, particularly in America, is vehemently anti-abortion. This is not breaking news. What is news is just how much money a handful of Ohio Catholic archdioceses donated to defeat Issue 1—which would allow Ohioans to vote on enshrining reproductive rights into the state constitution, a legal strategy turned to by pro-abortion advocates after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

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Closing schools one year and then finding half a million dollars the next for a political donation? The diocese is making a pretty clear statement about its priorities.

The idea that out-of-state actors are trying to change Ohio stemmed from the campaign to amend how to amend Ohio’s state constitution. In August, Ohio held a special election for that amendment, which sought to raise the threshold for amending the constitution from a simple majority to 60 percent. (It lost.) The majority of money on both sides of the fight (seen as a test run of the abortion amendment) was powered by out-of-state donors.

The Catholic Church has long been a political actor in America, particularly on issues of bodily autonomy like abortion and who you sleep with. Literally last week, the Diocese of Cleveland barred gender-affirming care and the use of pronouns that wouldn’t be affiliated with the sex listed on a birth certificate.

By a quirk of campaign finances, the nearly $1 million in donations to ant-abortion efforts is legal because the church is donating against a cause, i.e. a ballot issue, and not a partisan candidate. “Each person bears moral responsibility for his or her vote,” Jennifer Schack, Cincinnati archdiocese spokeswoman told The Enquirer.

Polling from last November found that more than 59 percent of registered voters in the states support abortion protections, so we’ll have to see whose morals win out.

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