A coalition of pro-abortion activists filed a lawsuit on Monday challenging the Ohio Ballot Board‘s decision to use a condensed version of a proposed amendment written by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office for the November ballot that would enshrine abortion into the state Constitution.
This follows the Ohio Ballot Board rejecting the full text of the proposed amendment. The summary language does not alter what the actual amendment would say in the state Constitution but is the last representation of the amendment Ohioans read before casting their vote.
In the summary wording accepted by the board, they replace the word “fetus” with “unborn child” and replace the word “decision” with “medical treatment.” The summary language also changes the phrase “pregnant patient” to “pregnant woman.” The condensed version also removes the language “the right to abortion, as well as contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing one’s own pregnancy.”
Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court claiming that the condensed language of the ballot issue, now titled Issue 1 for the November general election, is deceptive and contains blatant inaccuracies.
The coalition asked the state Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus directing the ballot board to adopt the full text of the amendment as the ballot language. Alternatively, the court may direct the ballot board to correct the “inaccuracies.”
According to Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights spokesperson Lauren Blauvelt, the adopted summary intentionally misled voters.
“Issue 1 was clearly written to protect Ohioans’ right to make our own personal health care decisions about contraception, pregnancy, and abortion, free from government interference. The summary that was adopted by the Ballot Board is intentionally misleading and fails to meet the standards required by Ohio law. Ohio voters deserve to see the full amendment language for Issue 1,” Blauvelt said.
According to State Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), a member of the ballot board, the full text of the amendment was not only too long but was also far too vague and broad for approval.
“No one should be fooled by the clever language of this amendment. It’s designed to be broad. So broad that should it pass it is unequivocally true that access to painful late-term abortions will be written into Ohio’s constitution. It’s a bridge too far,” Gavarone said.
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said that the board was correct in approving the summary language instead of the full amendment.
“Planned Parenthood is obviously worried that Ohioans are realizing that the language is dangerous and a bridge too far for even pro-choice women,” Gonidakis said.
The Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom proposed “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety,” which would add Section 22 to Article 1 of the state Constitution.
The proposal would remove Ohio’s parental notification legislation when a minor wants an abortion and the requirement that abortionists adhere to fundamental hospital health and safety standards. The proposal also aims to permit abortions after babies have heartbeats and can feel pain.
Because Ohio voters defeated Issue 1 earlier this month at the polls, which would have raised the threshold to approve a constitutional amendment, the amendment only requires a simple majority to pass.
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star, The Star News Network, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Pro-Choice Protesters” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.