Battle heats up over proposed pro-abortion amendment to Ohio’s state Constitution

By Dave Andrusko

No sooner had language been added to clarify what voters would actually be voting on this fall than pro-abortionists sued Ohio ballot officials for substituting “unborn child” for the term “fetus” in the “new official language for a ballot measure that could make abortion a constitutional right in November,” according to Joshua Mercer.

A week ago Monday, Ohioans for Reproductive Rights filed the suit arguing that “unborn child” “aims improperly to mislead Ohioans and persuade them to oppose the amendment.”

Pro-lifers see the exact opposite; it clarifies what ballot supporters of Issue 1 deliberately kept vague. Writing for the Associated Press, Julie Carr Smyth and Christine Fernado explained

The points of contention are in the measure’s fine print. Where the amendment says “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” opponents focus on the words “individual” and “reproductive” as potential openings.

Mehek Cooke, a Republican lawyer working with Protect Women Ohio, said the amendment’s authors were intentionally vague when they used the word “individual,” allowing it to apply to any gender and to both adults and children.

“This is very deliberate, and I don’t think it’s open to interpretation,” she said. “It’s very clear ‘an individual’ means both.”

However, the bulk of the Associated Press story is to make the case that opposition is “far-fetched,” is using “a false argument,” and that concerns about eliminating the parental consent law would first “have to be challenged in court and struck down by the state Supreme Court.”

While the original language says “… in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health,” the new version explains the amendment would “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 Bridget Sielicki.

State Senator Theresa Gavarone noted that the new language more accurately portrays the reality of the amendment. “The Ohio Ballot Board’s mission today was to create ballot language that accurately describes the proposed amendment as written,” Gavarone said in a statement, adding:

The language of the amendment is purposefully written very broadly. As such, the summary approved today accurately reflects the broad language of the amendment. I wish the language would have been more specific to the voters as to what this proposed amendment means and the disastrous consequences its passage will have on women and families.

That being said, I am thankful to have played a part in setting the record straight and am proud to deliver the truth to Ohioans about this dangerous proposal.

In response to the complaints, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose reminded voters that the full text of the amendment — which differs from the ballot language — will be readily available for public viewing. “[The text] is presented on a poster in the polling location, and will be published in newspapers throughout the state and available through a whole variety of publications as well,” LaRose said.