(LifeSiteNews) – A proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that critics say would enshrine a “right” to effectively unlimited abortion in the Buckeye State has secured the requisite number of petition signatures and is now being reviewed for placement on the November ballot.
Drafted by the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and backed by the Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights (OPRR) advocacy arm Protect Choice Ohio (PCO), the proposed Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety Amendment posits a “right” to make “personal reproductive” decisions, “including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion,” which the state “shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against.”
Fox News reported that the 400,000 signatures collected by supporters are now being reviewed by the state for any technical errors, after which the issue will be put to the voters this fall.
“This amendment is too extreme for Ohio,” warned Logan Church, director of CatholicVote 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. 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.”
“The ACLU’s extreme anti-parent amendment is so unpopular that they couldn’t even rely on grassroots support to collect signatures,” Protect Women Ohio (PWO) spokesperson Amy Natoce argued. “The ACLU paid 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 attempts to hijack Ohio’s constitution to further its own radical agenda would be pathetic if it wasn’t so dangerous.”
PWO is running a $5 million statewide advertising campaign in hopes of warning Ohioans that the amendment also threatens parental consent for minors suffering gender dysphoria to receive puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, breast removal, or genital transformation surgeries, because “gender identity” can be construed as relating to reproduction.
The amendment says abortion may still be prohibited “after fetal viability,” except when in the “professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
But pro-lifers have long argued that such “or health” language effectively renders abortion prohibitions meaningless by giving abortionists the discretion to rationalize any abortion as “necessary” to their customer’s “health.” Pro-lifers also fear that the language about “indirectly” interfering with abortion would effectively eliminate Ohio’s ability to impose any health, safety, waiting, or informed-consent standards on the practice.
Ohio currently has a heartbeat law banning nearly all abortions at six weeks, though it is blocked from enforcement due to an ongoing lawsuit. Until then, abortion is limited to 20 weeks. In May, 18 state attorneys general urged the courts to let Ohio enforce the law.
Fourteen states currently ban all or most abortions, with available data so far indicating those states could effectively wipe out an estimated 200,000 abortions a year, and discrediting abortion defenders’ long-running predictions that abortion bans would only force women to continue aborting through more dangerous and illicit means.
Meanwhile, abortion allies pursue a variety of tactics to preserve abortion “access,” such as easing distribution of abortion pills, legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel, attempting to enshrine “rights” to the practice in state constitutions rather than the U.S. Constitution, constructing new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states, and making liberal states sanctuaries for those who want to evade or violate the laws of more pro-life neighbors.
President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws.