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Maryland bishops oppose upcoming constitutional amendment on abortion

Pro-life demonstrators march during the 51st annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 19, 2024. (OSV News photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

The bishops of Maryland issued a statement May 8 objecting to a November 2024 ballot measure in which Marylanders will be asked to enshrine abortion into the state Constitution.

It is one of several states that will have similar measures on the ballot as voters go to the polls to elect a president, members of Congress and local officials.

“This is an important time for us to reiterate our commitment to the protection of all human life,” the bishops said. “We oppose the ‘Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment’ as it contradicts the fundamental principles of respect for human dignity and the inherent right to life.”

The statement is signed by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori; Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop of Washington; and Bishop William Koenig of Wilmington, Del. All have members of their flock who live in Maryland. Together, they comprise the Maryland Catholic Conference, which provides advocacy and education in Annapolis for public policy on behalf of the dignity of the human person and for the common good.

“Our opposition to this initiative is rooted in our unwavering concern for the well-being of women and children. Abortion not only ends the life of an innocent child but also poses significant risks to the physical, emotional and spiritual health of women,” the statement said.

In encouraging Catholics and others to reject the amendment, the bishops focused on five themes: Abortion perpetuates a ‘throwaway culture,’ the amendment diverts resources from women’s well-being, it risks the rights of health care workers, and the amendment would limit the ability of elected officials to respond to changing needs or information. They rejected the notion that abortion is a solution for women in crisis situations.

“A constitutional amendment severely limits legislative flexibility and prevents elected officials from enacting laws that respond to changing circumstances or new evidence related to abortion policy and the protection of women,” the statement said.

The bishops acknowledged that nothing regarding abortion would likely change in the state, even if the amendment is defeated. “Sadly, Maryland has some of the most permissive abortion laws in the country, allowing for abortion at any stage of pregnancy, including right up to the moment of birth,” they said.

“Enshrining abortion into Maryland’s Constitution would further perpetuate a ‘throwaway’ culture that devalues human life and fails to provide adequate support and alternatives for women facing difficult decisions regarding their pregnancies,” the statement said.

The bishops quoted Pope Francis, who said that every person is a sacred and unique gift, never to be thrown out.

“Enshrining abortion in the Constitution would divert attention and resources away from broader efforts to promote women’s well-being and address the root causes of abortion,” the bishops’ statement said. “Instead of a sole focus on access to abortion, it is necessary to advocate for comprehensive solutions that provide women with access to healthcare, resources for families, and education and job opportunities.

“We must foster a culture of life where every person is valued and supported, and where women facing difficult decisions regarding pregnancy and parenthood feel respected and empowered,” they said.

The statement also said that enshrining abortion in the state Constitution risks “undermining existing protections for religious freedom, conscience rights, and the rights of healthcare providers to practice according to their beliefs.”

The bishops said, “We stand in solidarity with women and children, and we reject the notion that abortion is a solution to the challenges faced by women in crisis situations. It is essential that we pursue solutions that include compassionate support, resources and alternatives to abortion for women facing difficult circumstances.

“We urge voters to reject this ballot initiative and stand with us in upholding the sanctity of all human life, safeguarding conscience rights and standing in solidarity with women and children in need. Together, let us work toward building a culture of life in which every person is valued, cherished and protected,” the statement said.

Information and resources about the effort to fight the amendment is available from the Maryland Catholic Conference at

(This article was shared by the Catholic Review, the media outlet of The Archdiocese of Baltimore.)