Ohio GOP say they will pursue legislation to counter passage of Issue 1 pro-abortion amendment

November 11, 2023
Ben Marquis

Voters in Ohio on Tuesday approved an amendment proposal known as Issue 1 that would enshrine and protect abortion rights in the state's Constitution, but a group of Republican lawmakers are unwilling to accept that apparent choice by Ohio voters.

Four GOP legislators announced Thursday that they would pursue legislative efforts to strip the courts of any authority to review cases related to the implementation of the voter-passed initiative, according to The Hill.

Notably, Republicans maintain strong majorities in both legislative chambers, control the governor's mansion, and hold the majority on the Ohio Supreme Court that will almost certainly have the final say on this matter.

Ohio GOP vows to challenge "ambiguous ballot initiative" on abortion rights

In a press release on Thursday, the four Republican legislators jointly stated, "To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative. The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides."

"Issue 1 doesn't repeal a single Ohio law, in fact, it doesn't even mention one," Rep. Bill Dean said. "The amendment’s language is dangerously vague and unconstrained, and can be weaponized to attack parental rights or defend rapists, pedophiles, and human traffickers."

Rep. Beth Lear said, "No amendment can overturn the God-given rights with which we were born," while her colleague Rep. Melanie Miller stated, "We will continue to be a voice for every child in their mother's womb who cannot speak for themselves."

Rep. Jennifer Gross, who observed the millions of dollars in support of Issue 1 had been provided by wealthy foreign individuals, proclaimed, "Foreign billionaires don't get to make Ohio laws," and added, "This is foreign election interference, and it will not stand."

"This is not the end of the conversation," says House Speaker

According to the Associated Press, Ohio's Republican House Speaker Jason Stephens declined to comment on the press release from his GOP colleagues through a spokesperson but did speak out previously during the week against the approval of Issue 1 by voters.

The Speaker said in an earlier release, "The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life. This is not the end of the conversation."

The Issue 1 amendment was passed Tuesday by a margin of around 57-43%, per the AP, and abortion rights advocates reportedly intend to use it as a basis to challenge various existing limitations on the procedure in the state.

Senator says this is "just the beginning" of a long fight over Issue 1

The Hill reported that Issue 1 ostensibly creates a constitutional right of "reproductive freedom" that encompasses virtually all decisions related to pregnancy and would establish "fetal viability," typically around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy, as the limit for legal abortions, with the usual exceptions for incest, rape, and the health of the mother.

Should the amendment stand, it would seemingly override Ohio's current ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions, a 2019 law that remains tied up in court amid legal challenges.

Aside from the clear opposition to Issue 1 in the state House, the amendment will likely also be challenged as unacceptable by the state's Republican-controlled Senate, as GOP Senate President Matt Huffman said the initiative's passage was "just the beginning of a revolving door of ballot campaigns to repeal or replace Issue 1."

The amendment is supposed to take effect on December 1, but that seems unlikely given that courts will have to sort out how it impacts current laws and already pending cases, to say nothing of the strong likelihood of additional lawsuits and future legislation related to the issue that will also undoubtedly be challenged in court.

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