Note: The following letter was read in parishes in the Diocese of Youngstown November 4 and 5, 2023. Click here for more resources about Issue One from the Diocese of Youngstown and the Catholic Conference of Ohio.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In just a few days, we as citizens of this great State of Ohio can speak our voice at the polls. It is
both a privilege and responsibility for us to vote as faithful citizens.
As a Church, it is never our practice to endorse or promote candidates for office. Nevertheless,
it is incumbent upon all Church leaders to address a variety of issues with a moral compass and
the lens of faith. My purpose in writing to all the faithful in the six counties of our diocese this
weekend is to call your attention to the proposed amendment, known as Issue 1. If passed,
Issue 1 would have dire consequences for human life and negatively impact our Ohio culture,
not to mention our legacy, for generations to come.
Over these last months we have all heard many different voices on this issue. The Catholic
Church in Ohio has offered our own voice so that each of us can take responsibility for a well-
formed conscience. Our Catholic tradition has consistently promoted the sanctity of life and
opposed abortion. I also know that there are those who struggle with the best way to help
women and children. Before we all speak with our vote, I ask each one of you to read the
proposed amendment with your own eyes and consider the language and the implications
This amendment, if passed, will not only adversely impact women, children, and families, but it
will also completely change the landscape of our state in three ways.
First, this proposed amendment puts women at risk as it would remove existing health and
safety standards when it comes to abortions. Current Ohio laws require abortion providers to
explain procedure risks and ensure access to hospital transfer if needed. These health and
safety standards, and others, could be labeled as a “burden,” and therefore, be eliminated,
making it even less safe for women seeking an abortion. Do we really think it is a “burden” to
make sure that women are safe? We cannot take this risk. I urge you to Vote “No,” on Issue 1.
Second, this amendment would threaten the important role of parents. By using the term
“individual” instead of adult or woman, this amendment opens the door to abortions without
parental notification or consent and closes what should be an open door of communication and
trust in every family. Do you think a teenage girl should make that decision without the
knowledge and counsel from parents? We cannot take this risk. I urge you to Vote “No” on
Finally, this amendment is extreme and dangerous because it would allow for abortions of fully
formed babies in the womb. Can any of us live with the reality of an abortion when a baby is
fully formed? We cannot take this risk. I urge you to Vote “No” to Issue 1.
Sometimes it may seem like our voice does not matter. John the Baptist, who we will
encounter in just a few weeks when we enter the season of Advent, was just one voice crying
out in the wilderness. As we find ourselves in the wilderness of this time, we are called to cry
out and allow our voice to be part of a chorus of truth and love. The stakes could not be higher.
One by one, we can make a difference with our vote. Please, I beg you, use your voice on
Tuesday and Vote “No” on Issue 1.
Keep in mind, however, that our care for life and one another can never be reduced to a polling
booth. We need to be intentional every day about our love for one another especially for
women, children, and those in need. As people of faith, we embrace this work through Catholic
Charities, parishes, pregnancy resource centers, and our one-on-one encounters with all those
in need. This is all about forming a “culture of life and a civilization of love” all the while aspiring
to realize the prayer of Jesus, “That all may be one.”
Prayerfully in Christ,
Most Reverend David J. Bonnar
Bishop of Youngstown