The pro-life movement has accomplished many victories in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization1, while also facing new challenges. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade2 and returned the abortion issue to the democratic process, abortion activists have sought to enshrine a “right” to abortion in state constitutions across the country. These efforts pose a serious threat to pro-life laws and the protection of preborn human beings, women, and young girls. Michigan is a harrowing example of the impact of abortion ballot measures on life-affirming policies. Last year, Michigan residents voted to enshrine a “right” to abortion in their state constitution. Since then, the legislature has sought to repeal numerous protections for women and preborn children, including the state’s ban on partial-birth abortions, informed consent safeguards, and provisions requiring abortion facilities to be licensed and operated under necessary health and safety standards.
This November, Ohioans will face a similar ballot initiative. Americans United for Life has released a policy report on the upcoming ballot initiative in Ohio.
Ohio’s Radical Ballot Initiative
The Ohio ballot initiative is entitled, the “Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” (a.k.a. “Issue 1”). If passed, the ballot initiative would amend the Ohio constitution to state, “[e]very 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.”3 Further, the amendment prohibits the state from enacting laws that protect women by directing that Ohio may not: “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 individual’s health in accordance with widely accepted and evidence-based standards of care.”4
Although the amendment seemingly allows for Ohio to regulate abortion after viability, it includes a broad exception for instances in which the abortionist determines an abortion “is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”5 Lastly, the amendment defines fetal viability, which is an arbitrary and vague standard, as “the point in pregnancy when, in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician, the fetus has a significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures.”6 Yet the amendment allows the abortionist to determine fetal viability “on a case-by-case basis.”7
Ohio Abortion Amendment’s Language is Deceptive
The amendment’s language is deceptive. First, the misleading phrasing of this amendment makes it appear as though Ohio currently restricts or is attempting to restrict individuals from making decisions about contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage treatment, or “continuing one’s own pregnancy.”8 This is not true, as Ohioans can freely obtain fertility and miscarriage treatments, or contraception. Current Ohio law also permits elective abortions up to 20 weeks’ gestation. In other words, even if voters reject this amendment, Ohio residents can still obtain contraception, fertility and miscarriage treatment, continue their pregnancies, and have an abortion.
Abortion Is the Intentional Destruction of Innocent Preborn Human Life
Furthermore, the misleading language of the amendment attempts to disguise abortion as healthcare. As discussed in the full policy report in Section V, abortion is not healthcare. It is the intentional destruction of innocent preborn human life. Additionally, as the Supreme Court acknowledges in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, states have a legitimate interest in preserving prenatal life, mitigating fetal pain, and protecting maternal health.9 Thus, Ohio can regulate abortion in furtherance of these important interests.
Ohioans Should Not Pass Abortion on Demand Throughout Pregnancy
However, if Ohioans pass Issue 1, the amendment’s fallout will be devastating, especially for the welfare of Ohio women and their preborn children. Issue 1 authorizes abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy, threatens to eliminate protections for women’s welfare and parental involvement laws, gives abortionists free rein to operate clinics without health and safety regulations, increases the number of coerced abortions in Ohio, furthers the harmful and false narrative that abortion is necessary for women to have equality and success in America, and attempts to silence the voices of women harmed by abortion. Issue 1 allows abortion activists to turn Ohioans’ life-affirming state into an abortion destination that endangers the health and safety of its residents both inside and outside the womb.