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Columns | Friday, May 24, 2024

Every human being matters: Vote 'no' on Amendment 4!

Archbishop Wenski's column for May 2024 edition of the Florida Catholic

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Florida Amendment 4, which will appear on Florida’s November 2024 ballot, is an extreme proposal that legalizes full term abortion with no protections for the preborn child, including when the child is capable of feeling pain. This proposed amendment to our state constitution would prohibit all restrictions on abortion before viability and create a broad exception that any “healthcare provider” could exploit to allow abortion up to birth. I urge all Catholics and people of good will: Vote “no” on Amendment 4!

I am often at parishes throughout the archdiocese administering the Sacrament of Confirmation. This is true especially in the weeks before and after Easter. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, first bestowed on the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday, are given to the baptized to better equip us to be witnesses to Christ, crucified but now risen from the dead. As confirmed Catholics we are to witness in an increasingly secularized world that God matters and because God matters, human beings, created in God’s own image and likeness, including the unborn, matter as well.

What Pope Benedict XVI had characterized as the “dictatorship of relativism” and Pope Francis has described as “ideological colonialism” wishes to reduce faith to the realm of the “private” and the “subjective” and thus tries to exclude religious voices from the public square. In spite of such gale force “headwinds,” Catholics are nevertheless to engage themselves in the public square and do so coherently and unapologetically.  To bear witness is our duty as faithful Catholics − and it is our right as faith filled citizens. Vote “no” on Amendment 4!

This is not to “impose our views” but to “make our proposal” about what is necessary for human flourishing in society. By insisting that every human being matters, we bring to public policy debates on issues of human dignity, justice and peace, an understanding of the human person that, while founded on the Christian Scriptures, is also accessible to human reason. In making our proposal, we hope to persuade our fellow Floridians to vote “no” on Amendment 4!

Thus, we oppose Amendment 4 and we urge all the voters of our State to join in our opposition and reject this extreme and ill-conceived proposition.

Even those who do not agree with the Church teaching that human life begins at conception should find reasons to oppose this amendment. The amendment, for example, would effectively overturn or seriously jeopardize common-sense state laws that have regulated abortion for years. These include basic health and safety requirements for clinics where abortions are performed, requiring a physician to perform abortions, informed consent requirements, laws limiting public funding of abortion, and parental consent requirements before a minor’s abortion.

As Catholics we believe that human life is sacred, and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision of society.  In urging a No vote on Amendment 4, we wish to protect not only the unborn child − the weakest, most innocent and defenseless among us − but we also seek to protect countless women from the harms of abortion. Unborn children matter − and so do their mothers.  Our Respect Life Ministry with its Pregnancy Assistance Centers helps provide women with life affirming alternatives to abortion and compassionately offer counseling and access to healing for those who have regretted a past abortion.

Catholic teachings on the rights and dignity of every human being from conception to natural death, stand in stark contrast to a tendency in our world to define classes or categories of people as “problems” and thus “dehumanize” them.  Such reductive thinking led to the successive genocides of the 20th century and rationalizes the continued killing of the unborn. Last year, there were more than 83,000 abortions in Florida alone! These are 83,000 reasons why all Floridians should reject Amendment 4 and vote a resounding “no!”

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