Voters across Ohio are gearing up to vote in one of the most consequential elections in their state’s history. On the ballot Nov. 7 is Issue 1, a measure crafted and funded by outside activists to amend the Ohio Constitution to include an effectively unlimited “right” to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.
If passed, Issue 1 won’t just give the abortion industry a free pass to end unborn lives and trample on parents’ rights, as local pro-life and parental rights groups have noted. The constitutional amendment will fundamentally and permanently change the way the state operates forever.
“This is not a vote against Ohio’s current laws on abortion,” Megan M. Wold, former deputy solicitor general in the Ohio attorney general’s office, said on a press call on Tuesday. “Some voters may not like some aspects of those laws. But this is a vote for a new legal regime that would remove from voters the ability to enact common-sense abortion laws in the future, including the very same kinds of abortion laws that exist in all of Western Europe.”
The Ohio Capital Journal published several articles over the last few weeks claiming voters who check “yes” on the amendment are simply reaffirming the state’s status quo 22-week abortion law by rejecting a “controversial” six-week ban “with no exceptions for rape or incest” from taking effect. But that characterization of Issue 1 couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Issue 1 is more than just stating a right to obtain an abortion like Roe v. Wade held, it’s actually creating the entire legal regime that would govern abortion in Ohio,” Wold said.
If passed, the Issue 1 constitutional amendment and its sweeping provisions would immediately supplant any of Ohio’s laws, including the state’s current 22-week abortion limit.
“Issue 1 is not a resurrection of the status quo. Because constitutional language supersedes regular statutes, Issue 1 would upend long-standing Ohio laws governing the abortion process, including laws governing late-term or particularly unethical abortion practices, and laws governing parental notification,” May Davis Mailman, the vice president for legal, strategy, and communications of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections and a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Law Center, said on the same press call.
The activists who penned the ballot measure designed it to ensure abortion in Ohio can never be truly restricted, even though Ohioans overwhelmingly reject unlimited abortion through birth.
To achieve their goals, they littered the proposal with undefined terms such as “individual” and “reproductive decisions,” which groups such as American Policy Roundtable say can be easily expanded to include more than just adult women or abortion. If passed, the ballot amendment will be exploited to justify a multitude of decisions for men, women, and children alike.
Other language in the proposal such as “fetal viability” does have an assigned legal definition but one that hinges on the subjective judgment of a doctor who is free to deem abortion necessary for a woman’s “health.”
“The state may not interfere with that broadly defined right unless it can meet an impossibly high burden of least restrictive means in order to further that individual’s health,” Mailman explained. “That is a far different and far higher burden than the pre-Dobbs legal regime.”
Before Dobbs v. Jackson, states were permitted to issue restrictions on abortions beyond viability, bans on taxpayer-funded abortions, and parental notification laws. If Ohioans pass Issue 1, they will be welcoming a new era of lawmaking in Ohio that effectively hampers them and their elected representatives from reigning in abuses on a broad range of issues including contraception, assisted reproductive technology, abortion, the radical transing of children, and any of the other “rights” that might fall under the ambiguous terms included in the amendment.
“If it is enacted, Issue 1 effectively cannot be changed. Ohio has never repealed a constitutional provision that was enacted by initiative, and it’s unlikely to do so. The process is very burdensome,” Wold emphasized. “It is highly likely that this law will become the permanent law on abortion for the entire state. And in that way, Issue 1 is actually taking the abortion issue out of the hands of Ohioans.”
Instead, the power will be handed to Planned Parenthood and the other abortion activists who helped write the amendment to gain constitutional protection for their profits.
“They are in essence, writing their business model into the state constitution. This gives them a level of legal privilege far beyond what other corporations have in Ohio,” American Policy Roundtable warned.