Two anti-life organizations submitted language for a new ballot initiative Tuesday that would enshrine abortion in the Ohio Constitution despite existing pro-life laws.
Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights (OPRR) filed the language for their ballot initiative, titled The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety amendment, with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R), according to a press release.
Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom describes itself as “a coalition of statewide reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations working to ensure Ohioans, not the government, have control over their own reproductive freedoms.”
The coalition’s ballot committee, the group’s website states, was “formed by the ACLU of Ohio, Abortion Fund of Ohio, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Preterm-Cleveland, Pro-Choice Ohio, and URGE.”
While the six-week ban is currently blocked, we know that legislators will continue to attack our reproductive freedoms.
The power to make reproductive health decisions must be in the hands of the person seeking care.
The time is NOW.
— Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom (@OH_ReproFreedom) February 21, 2023
The amendment, which the anti-life groups hope will be placed on the general election ballot in November, would “amend Article I of the Ohio Constitution by adding Section 22,” which provides:
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.
Additionally, the amendment states abortion “may be prohibited after fetal viability,” but stipulates “in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
“Ohioans are perilously close to losing access to safe, legal, comprehensive reproductive medical care,” OPRR executive director Dr. Lauren Beene said in a statement.
“As we saw first-hand when Ohio’s abortion ban went into effect last year, withholding that care puts people’s lives and health at risk. This common sense amendment ensures that physicians will be able to provide the care our patients need and deserve free from government interference.”
Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill, banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, became law in April 2019, but was temporarily blocked the following July after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against it.
UPDATE: A federal judge just blocked Ohio’s abortion ban from taking effect while our case goes forward to stop it once and for all. https://t.co/sf5ZzVNLKK
— ACLU (@ACLU) July 3, 2019
When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Yost’s office filed a motion to dissolve the injunction against the Heartbeat Law.
BREAKING: We filed a motion in federal court moments ago to dissolve the injunction against Ohio’s Heartbeat Law, which had been based on the the now-overruled precedents of Roe and Casey. pic.twitter.com/4TTYv8jeU2
— Attorney General Dave Yost (@DaveYostOH) June 24, 2022
While the Ohio Heartbeat Law was briefly in effect, in September, Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics challenged the law in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.
Hamilton County Judge Christian Jenkins subsequently issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the anti-life groups, putting a halt to the law.
In a statement released Tuesday in response to the filing of the ballot language that would enshrine abortion into the state Constitution, Elizabeth Marbach, director of communications for Ohio Right to Life said:
The language of this ballot initiative is extremely vague, making it even more dangerous than we originally believed it would be. Make no mistake, the abortion lobby is attempting to impose on Ohioans late-term abortion, paid for by taxpayers. They believe that they can rewrite our state Constitution to eliminate all protections for the unborn, including abortions after the point at which babies feel pain—endangering the health and wellbeing of both women and children.
In the language submitted for their amendment, the anti-life groups are continuing the narrative of the abortion industry, perpetuated even by Joe Biden at his State of the Union address on February 7, that fear mongers to Americans that women in need of miscarriage care will not be able to obtain it in states with abortion bans.
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), a network of over 7,000 pro-life medical practitioners, issued a statement and tweet thread about Biden’s inclusion of the misinformation in his address via his invited guests, Amanda and Josh Zurawski, who, according to the White House, made the following claim:
Amanda was 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke. She and her husband Josh were devastated, as they had been trying for a baby for over a year. Her doctors were unable to intervene to help her because they were concerned that providing the treatment she needed would violate the Texas abortion ban, which prohibits abortion care unless a woman’s life is in danger. She was sent home with instructions to come back if she developed signs of a life-threatening infection, which she did, three days later. Zurawski developed sepsis and nearly died because of the delay in receiving treatment. She continues to suffer from medical complications due to the delay.
“Our hearts go out to Amanda and Josh Zurawski, who were featured in tonight’s State of the Union Address,” AAPLOG stated. “There are no laws in any state that prevent timely and compassionate care for a miscarriage — which is the exact care Ms. Zurawski needed. Denying proper healthcare to patients facing miscarriage complications is not complying with the law. Miscarriage care is not abortion.”
Our hearts go out to Amanda and Josh Zurawski, who will be featured in tonight's State of the Union Address. There are no laws in any state that prevent timely and compassionate care for a miscarriage — which is the exact care Ms. Zurawski was in need of.
— AAPLOG (@aaplog) February 7, 2023
“Unfortunately, there are many abortion activists eager to exploit difficult situations like these and the people involved, in order to preserve the ability to kill preborn humans at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason,” AAPLOG continued, asserting its organization is “dedicated to continuing education on excellent miscarriage care and providing women with fully informed consent, while supporting both of our patients – woman and child.”
Ohio’s proposed constitutional amendment benefits the abortion industry, not women or their babies. As physicians, we cannot support efforts to strip women (esp. minors & trafficking victims), pain-capable children in the womb, and others of protection against abortion’s harms.
— AAPLOG (@aaplog) February 21, 2023
AAPLOG posted as well that the Ohio anti-life groups’ proposed constitutional amendment “benefits the abortion industry, not women or their babies. As physicians, we cannot support efforts to strip women (esp. minors & trafficking victims), pain-capable children in the womb, and others of protection against abortion’s harms.”
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Abortion Supporters” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.