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 Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights/YouTube/Screenshot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Conference of Ohio this week blasted an ad that used Catholic imagery while promoting a pro-abortion ballot initiative.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Catholic Conference warned that a new ad in favor of Ohio’s ballot proposal to enshrine abortion as a “right” in the state constitution gives the wrong impression about what the ballot measure would do as well as “how the Catholic Church accompanies pregnant women in need.”

“A woman can confidently rely on the Catholic Church to walk with her through pregnancy, support her material needs, and accompany her and her child after birth,” Michelle Duffey, associate director for communications and outreach at the Catholic Conference of Ohio, told Catholic News Agency on Tuesday, arguing that the ad also “dangerously misrepresents the proposed amendment.”

The 30-second ad in question was released by Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights [sic] last week and makes a “freedom”-centered pitch for the protection of abortion access under the law.

“When we face personal medical decisions, we depend on our doctors, our faith, our family,” the narrator of the ad says, adding that “the last thing we want is government making those decisions for us.”

When the word “faith” is mentioned in the ad, CNA noted, a clip is shown depicting a man kneeling and praying in what appears to be a Catholic church, with a Divine Mercy image of Jesus to the man’s right and what seem to be representations of the stations of the cross on the wall behind him.

The imagery comes in spite of the fact that the Catholic Church teaches – and has always taught – that abortion “is gravely contrary to the moral law.” In addition, Catholics are never permitted to obey, vote for, or “take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of” a law to expand access to abortion.

READ: Radical abortion amendment officially to appear on Ohio ballot in November

Brian Hickey, executive director of the Ohio Catholic Conference, told CNA the ad’s understanding of “freedom” is fundamentally flawed. 

“Ohio cannot accept a definition of freedom that perpetuates a throwaway culture of only cherishing people as long as they are useful,” Hickey said. “The Catholic Church has always advocated for and acted to protect the most vulnerable in society, including the indigent, migrants, and preborn children in the womb.”

“We will continue to do so by explaining the harms Issue 1 pose[s] to women, parents, and babies with Catholics and all people of goodwill across Ohio and encourage a no vote on this egregious proposal,” he continued. 

As LifeSiteNews has reported, the pro-abortion ballot proposal would amend Article I of the Ohio state constitution to guarantee that “[e]very individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion.”

The state would thereby be prohibited from setting up any barriers against “an individual’s voluntary exercise of this right.”

Critics have also warned that the language of the legislation could threaten parental rights with regard to children suffering gender dysphoria, forcing them to allow children to receive puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, breast removal, or genital transformation surgeries, because “gender identity” could be construed as relating to reproduction.

In consequence, Catholics have come out forcefully against the measure.

Earlier this month, Father Patrick Schultz, parochial vicar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Wadsworth, called the ballot initiative “demonic” and drew parallels between the “ancient pagan world” and the modern-day U.S., arguing that Planned Parenthood abortionists are equivalent to “Moloch’s priests.”

“This coming November, November 7, we have here in Ohio an opportunity to send this demonic proposed amendment back to hell, from which it came,” Schultz said.

“There is nothing, absolutely nothing, about the proposed constitutional amendment that’s going to be on the ballot, the so-called ‘Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety’ – there is nothing about this that is compassionate,” he said. “It has nothing to do with health or safety, but everything to do with ideology and advancing the culture of death.”

“Here’s the point: There is no way that any Catholic in good conscience can support this amendment,” the priest said.

READ: Ohio priest urges voters to reject ‘demonic’ pro-abortion amendment, send it ‘back to hell’

And Schultz wasn’t the only priest to express vehement opposition to the proposal and urge Catholics to defeat it at the ballot box.

In July, Father Daniel Dury spoke out against “radical, out of state pro-abortion groups” that “are trying to change our constitution in Ohio.”

“This is extreme, it’s radical, we have to defeat it, period,” Dury said, urging Catholics to pray, fast, get out the word, and vote. 

Diocese of Columbus Bishop Earl Fernandes similarly blasted the proposed amendment that, he said, “attacks the fundamental understanding of the human person, made in God’s image and likeness; undermines a fundamental anthropology; removes rights from parents; could potentially jeopardize the conscience rights of medical professionals; and represents an assault on human life and the human family.”

“The issue of abortion is a fundamental moral issue, touching upon issues vital not only to our lives as Catholics (and the lives of vulnerable, unborn children) but also to the common good,” the bishop said. 

He urged “all Catholics to register to vote and to vote No on the proposed amendment in November.”

The November ballot initiative will follow an August proposal to strengthen the process to amend the Ohio constitution by raising the threshold from a simple 50 percent plus one majority vote to a 60 percent requirement. 

Thanks to the failure of the earlier proposal, pro-lifers will have an uphill battle against the upcoming abortion amendment, which a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll shows is supported by 58 percent of Ohioans.