By Dave Andrusko
In spite of pro-abortion assurances to the contrary, in just 28 days Ohioans will decide whether they will enshrine a right to abortion in the Ohio Constitution.
Ironically, “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” would unleash the abortion industry at precisely the time when the number of abortions in Ohio has dropped by a lot, reversing a trend of increases in both 2020 and 2021. On second thought “tragically” should be substituted for “ironically.”
As Secular Pro-Life points out, the ramifications extend beyond increasing the death toll in Ohio:
This is a crucial battle for not only Ohio but also the country, both because people from Kentucky, Indiana, and other nearby states would travel to Ohio for abortions, and because our opposition wants to build momentum with the narrative that Americans are overall pro-abortion.
Of course, this is a lie. Supporters of Issue 1 are running ads telling Ohioans that a yes vote means they are protecting access to emergency care for miscarriages or life-threatening situations; such interpretations gloss over the fact that Ohio’s current abortion statutes already do that (see Section 2919.11 regarding missed miscarriage and Section 2919.12(C)2 regarding emergencies).
On Monday, we reposted a terrific overview of the battle over language: “Clarifying Issue 1: Ohio’s Semantic Battle Against Abortion Extremism.”
Allie Frazier, the former Executive Director, Ohio Right to Life of Northeast Ohio and a Fellow at the Society of St. Sebastian, presented a brilliant summary of the key battlelines. She writes, “To better understand the critical role language plays in the fight to save Ohio’s culture of life, it is helpful to examine both key points of the amendment’s language and the attempts brought forth to clarify its impact.”
I’m going to summarize just a few of her insights but I would encourage you in the strongest possible terms to read the piece in its entirety.
#1. “Many of the debates surrounding Issue 1 concern its vague language, the ‘legalese’ of which the average Ohioan may not readily discern. One such point of contention is whether Issue 1 would impact parent’s rights. Upon examination, it is clear that Issue 1’s wording will put parental rights directly at risk.”
Naturally, the abortion crowd insists it will not damage parental rights but Frazier shows us how that is playing out in states which have already passed very similar legislation:
[I]n Michigan, where Proposition 3, an abortion rights amendment very similar to Issue 1, passed last year, pro-abortion leaders have already voiced their disdain of Michigan’s parental consent laws surrounding abortion, calling them “harmful” and signaling their desire to repeal.
[F]ocusing on parental rights has proved a key line of defense against pro-abortion attempts to obscure the impact of Issue 1’s jurisdiction. Although pro-abortion groups have attempted to alternately minimize or ignore concerns that the amendment’s language would end parental notification laws concerning abortion, their actions elsewhere suggest a crack in their seemingly iron-clad defenses. In Florida, pro-abortion activist’s newest target, a newly proposed right-to-abortion amendment explicitly states it will not affect parental rights, a significant addition. Although such language may make future statewide abortion ballot initiatives more difficult to fight, this is a clear indication that pro-life messaging on parent’s rights has struck a nerve.
#2. Issue 1’s vague language “opens the door for abortion through all nine months of pregnancy,” Frazier writes. “Though many pro-lifers use verbal short-hand to describe this as ‘abortion through all nine months for any reason’ it is helpful to unpack the amendment’s language to detail why exactly that would be the case.”
Which, as you might suspect, takes us back to Roe’s and Doe’s open-ended, unfettered ‘right’ to abortion:
Despite liberal usage of viability terminology, Issue 1 would legalize abortion through all nine months using similar loopholes to those that existed during the time of Roe v. Wade. Issue 1 details the requirements for abortions after fetal viability as those that “are necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.” Roe v. Wade, though now confined to the ash heap of history, is a key indicator to forecast how the courts will likely interpret the term “health” as used in Issue 1.
Finally, #3. “This contest, however, has not been confined to the amendment itself,” Frazier writes.
After Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose put forth the official language for how Issue 1 would appear on the ballot, Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights sued. Their objections included LaRose’s use of the word “unborn child” instead of “fetus” in the official ballot language. …
Thankfully, the Ohio Supreme Court ultimately upheld the majority of the Ballot Board’s language stating, “We disagree with relators because the ballot language is factually accurate. While relators do not like the way in which the language is phrased, the structure of the statements is not improperly argumentative…” Small victories are victories nonetheless. The usage of language on the ballot which correctly acknowledges the humanity of the preborn comprises one more tool utilizable by Ohio’s pro-life movement to reveal Issue 1 for what it truly is: a brutal and blatant attack on women, children, and their families.
Words—used by both sides—will “play a pivotal role in determining the future of the Buckeye State,” Frazier concludes.
Ohio’s pro-life movement must continue to boldly and decisively hold those pushing Issue 1 accountable for not just their intentionally deceptive use of language but their outright lies as well. Issue 1 is an extreme, anti-parent, anti-woman, and anti-life change to Ohio’s founding document which would subject Ohioans to a pro-abortion hellscape worse than that under Roe. Attempts to obscure this fact come from an abortion industry eager to profit off the well-intentioned people of Ohio. Any and every Ohioan who cares about life, family, and their state’s future would do well to vote no on Issue 1 on November 7th.