Left-Wing Groups Submit Signatures for Extreme Ohio Abortion Ballot Initiative

Anti-abortion activists protest outside of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on June
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

A coalition of left-wing groups in Ohio submitted the signatures on Wednesday needed to place an extremely broad, anti-parent abortion amendment on the fall statewide ballot. 

Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights announced that it submitted more than 700,000 signatures to Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. LaRose will now work with local election boards to verify the signatures, 413,446 of which must be valid in order for the proposal to be placed on the November 7 ballot.

“Today, we take a huge step forward in the fight for abortion access and reproductive freedom for all, to ensure that Ohioans and their families can make their own health care decisions without government interference,” Kellie Copeland and Lauren Blauvelt of Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, a coalition member, said in a statement.

The language of the abortion ballot initiative is extremely broad and makes no differentiation between minors and adults, instead opting to use the term “individual.”

The proposed ballot measure states that “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on: contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.”

Under the amendment, the state would also not be allowed to:

…directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against either an individual’s voluntary exercise of this right or a person or entity that assists an individual exercising this right, unless the state demonstrates that it is using the least restrictive means to advance the individuals health in accordance with widely accepted and evidence-based standards of care.”]

The ACLU of Ohio, a coalition member, is responsible for crafting the broad language of the proposed abortion amendment, along with other groups like Planned Parenthood. Left-wing fact-checkers have been quick to assert that the amendment would not impact parental rights. But when local media have questioned the ACLU of Ohio as to whether the language of the measure would undo parental consent and notification laws, the organization vaguely indicated that those laws would not stand if the amendment passes.

“When you pass a constitutional amendment, it doesn’t just automatically erase everything and start over. But it would mean that laws that conflict with it cannot be enforced, should not be enforced,” said Jessie Hill, an attorney for the ACLU of Ohio.

Groups associated with the ballot measure also have a long history of campaigning to end parental consent and notification laws for abortion and “gender-affirming care.” 

Critics of the ballot measure, constitutional scholars Carrie Campbell Severino, President of JCN, and Frank J. Scaturro, a former special counsel to the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, have urgently warned that the amendment would decimate parental rights.

In an analysis of the proposed amendment, Severino and Scaturro wrote that the amendment is being largely and incorrectly framed as a means of adding a right to abortion in the state constitution. Instead, they argue that the proposal is “so broadly worded that it would prevent the legislature not only from requiring the consent of parents before their child pursues a particular procedure, but also from requiring mere notification of parents — well short of the power to veto their child’s decision — before the procedure takes place.” They further contend the text goes beyond abortion because of the use of the broad term “reproductive decisions.” 

“By explicitly defining such decisions as “not limited to” the enumerated categories, the proposal establishes its scope as sweeping,” they wrote.

“A natural reading would extend to any medical procedure that involves the human reproductive system, including sex-change surgery,” they continued. “The language also applies to individuals without any age qualification, so the proposal makes no distinction between adults and minors. Additional language would deny parents the right to any intervention on behalf of their children that would discourage them from obtaining the procedure in question.”

A group which describes itself as a pro-woman, pro-parents statewide coalition, Protect Women Ohio (PWO), has launched a multimillion-dollar statewide television and digital ad campaign against the proposed amendment in response to the left-wing campaign, warning that the measure would “outlaw basic health and safety protections for women, eliminate parental notification and consent laws that protect minor girls, and allow painful abortions up until birth in our state.”

PWO responded to the signatures submission, accusing the ACLU of “[paying] out-of-state signature collectors to lie to Ohioans about their dangerous amendment that will strip parents of their rights, permit minors to undergo sex change operations without their parents’ knowledge or consent, and allow painful abortion on demand through all nine months.”

“The ACLU’s extreme anti-parent amendment is so unpopular that they couldn’t even rely on grassroots support to collect signatures,” PWO Press Secretary Amy Natoce said in a statement via email. “…The ACLU’s attempts to hijack Ohio’s constitution to further its own radical agenda would be pathetic if it wasn’t so dangerous.”

Ohio State Rep. Gary Click notably posted a video to YouTube this weekend showing an abortion ballot initiative campaigner who claims to be a Planned Parenthood-funded worker from Michigan.

Director of CatholicVote Ohio Logan Church also put out a statement, calling the amendment “too extreme for Ohio.”

“As part of its unrelenting attack on parents, the ACLU’s proposed amendment seeks to cut parents out of their child’s most important and life-altering health decisions – including abortions and sex change operations,” Church said. “On top of that, the amendment would nullify existing and future health and safety protection for women and permit abortions in Ohio through all nine months of pregnancy, well after the point at which the unborn child can feel pain.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, called the amendment “dangerous for the women and children of Ohio.”

“It removes parents from some of their minor children’s most important health decisions such as parental notification before an abortion,” Dannenfelser said. “It would eliminate basic health and safety standards for women. And it would permit late term abortion after the baby can feel pain and even right up until birth.”

An August special election could greatly impact the amendment’s chance of passing in November, barring the election boards are able to verify enough signatures to place the abortion amendment on the ballot. In August, Ohioans will vote whether to raise the threshold for passing future state constitutional amendments to 60 percent, instead of a 50 percent simple majority.

“Abortion rights amendments in other states have tended to pass with more than 55 percent but less than 60 percent of the vote,” the Associated Press noted

State Rep. Brian Stewart (R), who was instrumental in getting the threshold question on the ballot in August, told Breitbart News in April that there is plenty of precedent for going beyond simple majority votes in states that allow outside groups to propose constitutional amendments.

“Florida requires 60 percent for all constitutional amendments. Colorado — a blue state — requires 55 percent for amendments. New Hampshire requires 66 percent for amendments. Arizona requires 60 percent for amendments that would increase taxes,” Stewart said. “So there’s a lot of precedent for moving in this direction, and we think it’s time to finally get it done.” 


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