State’s Catholic bishops urge Missourians not to sign abortion initiative petition


Bishop W. Shawn McKnight and his fellow Roman Catholic bishops are urging Missourians to withhold their signatures from a currently circulating petition seeking to ensure nearly unrestricted access to abortion through an amendment to the state’s Constitution.

“This ballot initiative would legalize abortions in this state and remove long-standing health and safety standards for women,” the bishops noted in their statement, approved Feb. 22.

“In addition,” the bishops pointed out, “this initiative does nothing to reduce or eliminate the underlying social causes for abortion and does not further a true culture of life in the state.”

The statement’s signatories include: Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of St. Louis; Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-St. Joseph; Bishop McKnight; and Bishop Edward M. Rice of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, functioning in their role as officers of the Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC).

The MCC is the public-policy agency of the state’s four Roman Catholic dioceses.

The bishops noted that groups are currently collecting citizen signatures to add the proposed amendment to the November 2024 ballot.

“We encourage all Catholics and people of good will to not sign any petition that would put this amendment on the ballot,” the bishops stated.

They called the proposed amendment misleading and wrong in its assertion that a “right to an abortion” is needed to protect women.

“The amendment,” the bishops stated, “could actually put women at risk and endanger preborn children.”

The bishops reiterated the Church’s long-standing support for society’s most vulnerable people, especially women and children, “through accompaniment, social services, and material assistance.”

The bishops pledged that the Catholic Church in Missouri will continue to provide spiritual and material support to pregnant women and their families, through the work of parishes and Church-sponsored ministries, and to advocate on their behalf and on behalf of their preborn children.

Further, the bishops stated, the Church remains committed to help women who are suffering from the pain of an abortion, by offering true healing and hope through its Post-Abortive Healing Ministries.

“We ask all to help us in these efforts to safeguard the right to life,” the bishops wrote.

They said they look forward to the day when every child, born and unborn, “has the love and support needed to thrive and reach his or her full potential.”

“Let us pray for a greater recognition of the gift of each and every human life in our society,” the bishops stated.

The text of the statement can be found on the MCC website at: