Florida’s Six-Week Abortion Ban Violates My Catholic Values: Sun Sentinel
CFC Board Member Gloria Romero Roses published this Op-Ed in the Sun Sentinel on April 25, 2023. It appeared in print on April 26, 2023. Click here to read the article on the Sun Sentinel website.
Florida’s Six-Week Abortion Ban Violates My Catholic Values
By Gloria Romero Roses
When I was a young woman growing up in Colombia, my mother, a nurse, would often share heartbreaking stories about caring for women who were completely powerless over their own lives. Some would require major medical attention after unsuccessful attempts to terminate their pregnancies, others would die after being forced to carry a life-threatening pregnancy to term in a country where abortion was not allowed, even to save the life of the mother. The shattering stories of these women, and the profound injustice of the state placing so many constraints on a person’s health and freedom under the guise of religious values, were formative for me — both in my childhood and as I grew into adulthood in Florida.
That’s why I’m heartbroken by the six-week abortion ban that Gov. Ron DeSantis has just signed into law in Florida. This imprudent law severely restricts our freedom and will have devastating consequences. Florida’s Catholic bishops strongly endorsed the measure in a recent statement posted on their website, calling it a “tremendous improvement over current law.” As an equally faithful Catholic, I would remind those who cite our faith to support a bill like this that Catholic teaching is much more expansive on matters of social justice and human dignity.
In Catholic social teaching, each person is called to follow their own faithfully formed conscience as the final arbiter and highest authority in matters of individual moral decision-making. Over and over again, polls show that for a majority of Catholics, this discernment leads them to support abortion access in all or most cases — a full 62% share this view according to a recent PRRI poll, and another poll conducted by Pew before the decision overturning Roe v. Wade found that a whopping 68% of Catholics didn’t want the Supreme Court to do it.
I am part of this faithfully pro-choice Catholic majority. When it comes to abortion, my conscience was formed by the stories of suffering my mother shared with me all those years ago, and by the Catholic social justice imperative, which tells us that the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized — including people like those suffering women — must be put first. These are the same folks who will be most gravely and disproportionately harmed by Florida’s proposed abortion ban.
And let’s be clear: A six-week abortion ban is effectively a total ban on abortion. Most people do not even know they are pregnant at six weeks, so by the time they do, under this new law, it will already be too late. This means that they will no longer have the right to make decisions about their own bodies and their own lives.
Such denials can have dire consequences. Forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, they may be unable to continue working or pursuing an education, may face financial ruin as they struggle to support a child they never wanted or planned for, and are statistically at much higher risk for a whole host of negative physical and mental health outcomes. And as always, the most vulnerable among us — including those working to make ends meet, people of color and those living in rural areas — are the ones who suffer the most.
This new law enshrines a minority religious view into law and forces it upon our entire state, against the will of most Floridians. This is the wrong approach — we must trust people to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, based on their own individual moral and religious beliefs. We cannot impose our own views on them or deny them the right to make their own choices. Instead, we must humble ourselves to hear their stories, their wisdom and their lived experiences. My mother listened to women; our bishops and our elected officials must do the same.
In these extraordinarily difficult and frightening times, as we witness the fundamental freedoms of hard-working Floridians being slowly and steadily taken away, it can feel like hope is lost. But we cannot give up, we cannot be silent. Instead, we must stand up and speak out. We must repeal this unjust law and advocate for policies that support the freedom to be safe, healthy and prosperous. Human dignity is entirely dependent on being able to control one’s body, and we must support organizations that provide access to safe and legal abortion. Our civic values — and for pro-choice Catholics like me, our consciences — demand nothing less.
Gloria Romero Roses, a Florida resident since 1979, is a real estate developer and a board member of Catholics for Choice.