I can already hear the objections of some to this column and can anticipate letters I might receive taking issue with the call to action I wish to make at a critical time for the public moral life of our beloved State of Oregon.

May this column serve as a response to the objections of some, and an explanation of why this is a time for faithful Catholics to let their voices be heard loud and clear.

We often hear people, even Catholics, say that the Church must stay out of politics and not weigh in on matters that affect the public good of our society. We hear claims to a false understanding of the so-called “separation of Church and state.” It is certainly true that the Church must stay away from partisan politics and not engage in the endorsement of particular candidates or political parties. The Church must do its best to help form the consciences of believers according to her social doctrine, leaving it to them to apply prudential judgement in their decisions to support one candidate for public office over another.

But there are public policy issues that transcend partisan politics and that affect the moral fiber of our society about which the Church and individual believers have the right and the obligation to speak clearly and unequivocally. On these public policy issues the Church has a right to be at the table helping to shape and form the common good. On the ballot here in Oregon this year there is such a ballot initiative. It is Measure 106, which I urge every Catholic voter to get out and support.

A little background is in order. In 2017, Gov. Kate Brown signed into law Oregon House Bill 3391. This bill significantly expanded taxpayer funding for abortion. Because state lawmakers declared HB 3391 to be an “emergency” measure, the citizens of our state were prevented from voting on this tax-related measure. Under the new law, anyone covered by the Oregon Health Plan can have an unlimited number of free abortions, for any reason and at any stage of pregnancy. This includes late-term abortions when the preborn baby is perfectly healthy. Your state tax dollars go to fund these abortions.

Through the ballot initiative process in Oregon, enough signatures were gathered to place Measure 106 on the ballot this fall so that the citizens could finally let their voices be heard. Measure 106, if passed by Oregon voters, would stop our tax dollars from funding elective and late-term abortions. The heart of the measure reads thus: “The state shall not spend public funds for any abortion, except when medically necessary or as may be required by federal law.”  These words would be added to the Oregon State Constitution.

Even though Catholic moral teaching forbids direct abortion in all circumstances, note that the passage of Measure 106 would not prevent tax- funded abortions in all circumstances. The law would still allow for tax funded abortions in the case of danger of death to the mother, and when federal law requires it, such as in the case of rape or incest.

What Measure 106 would prevent is our tax dollars being used to fund elective abortions when these circumstances are not present, including late-term abortions when the preborn child is healthy and there is no danger of death for the mother.

Sometimes there are public policy issues, such as ballot initiatives, that require prudential judgement by Catholic voters with well-formed consciences, and over which Catholics in good conscience can disagree.  On such issues, Catholics can in good conscience differ over what is the best and most prudential way to address a public policy issue affecting the common good.

Measure 106 is not one of these issues. Catholics are morally obligated to do all in their power to eliminate direct abortion, or to limit it as much as possible. The preborn baby is the most innocent and vulnerable of all human life. The scourge of abortion in our land is one of the most tragic instances of society’s disregard for the sanctity and dignity of every human person — of every human life. We must step up and do all we can to limit or eliminate abortion. This is for the sake of life itself — the life of a unique member of the human family created in the image and likeness of God. Every human life is precious.

When your ballot comes to you in the mail, I urge you to vote “YES” on 106.