Anti-abortion politicians in Ohio are trying to trick voters, say their opponents. At stake is a constitutional amendment that directly targets reproductive rights. Here is the full story.
Sky High Stakes
When Buckeyes head to the polls in November, one of the issues they’ll be voting on is whether or not to amend the Ohio state constitution.
And, as with most proposed amendments, the stakes for this one are sky high.
Ever since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the summer of 2022, the fate of abortion rights has been left up to the states.
Many conservative states, like Texas, have banned nearly all abortions outright.
Mixed Abortion Laws
But Ohio has taken a more mixed approach to their abortion laws.
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision, Ohio reverted to a 2019 measure that banned abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
A couple of court decisions in the fall of 2022, though, blocked that ban indefinitely. That moved the abortion time limit out to 22 weeks and also gave legislators and activists a chance to act.
Thanks to a concerted effort by abortion rights advocates, the November Ohio ballot will ask citizens whether or not to approve an amendment which makes access to abortions a more permanent right.
The problem is the actual language that will be used on the ballot, which was crafted and approved by the Republican-controlled Ohio Ballot Board.
And something got lost – or added – in the translation from the actual proposed amendment to the ballot language says Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights.
The activist group, along with five of the original amendment petitioners, filed a suit against the Ballot Board in early September.
At issue is the term “unborn child,” which the Ballot Board inserted into the ballot language, but which does not appear in the amendment itself.
“Zygote, Embryo, or Fetus”
According to the suit, there is widespread disagreement about when a “zygote, embryo, or fetus becomes a ‘child’.”
And since even scientists have not come to a consensus on that important matter, the suit claims, Republican lawmakers aren’t equipped to make that determination.
In fact, the lawsuit claims, “unborn child” was deliberately added to the ballot language to make the idea less appealing to the average, maybe undecided voter.
The language used in the actual amendment says instead that “abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability,” without mention of when a fetus actually becomes a child.
The change in ballot language is all part of fear-mongering and finger-pointing on the part of Republicans, say supporters of the amendment.
As evidence, they point to the erroneous claim on social media by Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Frank LaRose, who also chairs the Ballot Board.
According to LaRose’s post, the proposed amendment would support “abortion on demand up to the moment of birth.”
That’s completely false, say abortion rights activists in the state. And it’s just the sort of language the new lawsuit hopes to crush before the ballot goes live.
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