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Archdiocese reports rise in vandalism ahead of Ohio abortion referendum

A sign opposing Ohio's Issue 1 sits outside an Archdiocese of Cincinnati property in October 2023.
A sign opposing Ohio's Issue 1 sits outside an Archdiocese of Cincinnati property in October 2023. | YouTube/WCPO9

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati has reported more than a dozen incidents of vandalism and theft on their properties in response to its opposition to an abortion referendum in Ohio.

Next week, Ohioans will vote on Issue 1, a referendum measure that, if passed, would make reproductive healthcare, which includes abortion, a state constitutional right.

The Catholic Telegraph, the archdiocese's official news outlet, published a press release on Tuesday noting that there have been "accounts of theft and vandalism" that were "reported to police at Catholic schools, churches and cemeteries across the Archdiocese."

"Dozens of Catholic properties have been displaying yard signs and large display signs opposing Issue 1 on the November ballot. Many of these locations have reported instances of theft of the signs and, in some instances, vandalism of their property," the release states. 

Incidents included Incarnation Catholic Church of Centerville, which was vandalized when the front door window was spray painted to cover a sign opposing Issue 1.

Vandals removed at least six "Vote No" signs and replaced them with "Vote Yes" signs at St. Bartholomew Church of Cincinnati.

A large "Vote No" sign at St. Monica-St. George Church of Clifton was thrown in a nearby dumpster, while several signs were stolen or vandalized at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains of Cincinnati. At St. Mary Church in Oxford, a large display sign was cut in half while another sign was vandalized.

"More than a dozen other church properties, Catholic high schools and cemeteries have reported theft of Vote No yard signs," added The Telegraph.

A sign in opposition to Ohio's Issue 1, which would make abortion access a state constitutional right, which was placed in the door of an Archdiocese of Cincinnati property and later vandalized in October 2023.
A sign in opposition to Ohio's Issue 1, which would make abortion access a state constitutional right, which was placed in the door of an Archdiocese of Cincinnati property and later vandalized in October 2023. | Screenshot: Fox19.com

According to the Ohio Secretary of State's office, Issue 1 is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would, among other things, create "in the Constitution of the State of Ohio an individual right to one's own reproductive medical treatment, including but not limited to abortion."

It would also "Prohibit the State from directly or indirectly burdening, penalizing, or prohibiting abortion before an unborn child is determined to be viable, unless the State demonstrates that it is using the least restrictive means" and "Always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability if, in the treating physician's determination, the abortion is necessary to protect the pregnant woman's life or health."

According to WCPO 9, there have been reports of vandalism of both "Vote Yes" and "Vote No" signs ahead of the Nov. 7 Election Day. 

Last week, a group of Christian leaders organized by the Center for Christian Virtue released an open letter imploring Ohio Christians to vote against the proposed constitutional amendment.

"If Issue 1 is adopted, the most innocent among us will suffer. Issue 1 will allow late-term abortions in Ohio and result in unspeakable pain for unborn babies," stated the letter in part.

"It will make Ohio one of the most extreme states in the country for abortion and eliminate health and safety standards that exist to protect women."

The progressive group Faith Choice Ohio has campaigned in support of Issue 1. The Rev. Terry Williams, the group's faith organizer and pastor of Orchard Hill United Church of Christ in Chillicothe, wrote last month that the proposed amendment would improve women's health.

"Health and safety protections in the form of regulation of health care facilities, credentialing of physicians, and the establishment of standards of care for patients all remain intact, as well as the purview of the state and federal legislatures under Issue 1," wrote Williams.

"Given the protections for access to medical treatment such as miscarriage care and abortion found in Issue 1, patient health and safety are improved by the amendment — not harmed."

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