(LifeSiteNews) – A proposed amendment that would effectively establish unlimited abortions in Ohio could extend beyond abortion and into transitioning gender-confused minors without parental consent, according to a group of concerned parents preparing to spread the message across the Buckeye State.
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 Ohio Ballot Board gave its approval to the amendment on March 13. The next step is for supporters to collect at least 413,000 signatures from Ohio voters in order to place it on the fall 2023 ballot. This week, a lawsuit was filed asking the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn the board’s approval, arguing that the amendment covers multiple issues when state law requires proposed amendments to only cover one issue apiece.
Also this week, a self-described “pro-woman, pro-parent coalition” called Protect Women Ohio (PWO) has launched 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.
“Moms and dads will be cut out of the most important and life-altering decisions of their child’s life if this passes,” PWO board member Molly Smith said. “This extreme amendment eliminates any current or future protections for minors requiring parents be notified and consent before their child undergoes a procedure like an abortion or sex change surgery.”
As LifeSite has previously covered, 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.”
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-life leaders have also warned 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 has a heartbeat law banning nearly all abortions at six weeks, though it is currently blocked from enforcement due to an ongoing lawsuit. Until then, abortion is limited to 20 weeks.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last June overturning Roe v. Wade and restoring states’ ability to set their own abortion laws, Planned Parenthood has suspended abortions and/or closed locations across the country, and pro-life attorneys general have declared their intentions to enforce their states’ duly enacted abortion prohibitions.
But leftists prosecutors in various localities have vowed not to enforce such laws, and pro-abortion activists have refocused efforts on interstate distribution of abortion pills, interstate travel for abortion, and enshrining “rights” to abortion in state constitutions, effectively insulating the practice from ordinary state legislation.
Meanwhile, 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. Democrats currently lack the votes to do so, but whether they get those votes is sure to be one of the major issues of the 2024 elections.