As we watch the pro-abortion strategy to enshrine abortion into law in Ohio, we can learn what to watch for as we move forward into the 2024 election season. Their overly broad language is intentionally crafted to appear benign; while in reality, its impact will undo decades of work and even the most basic of protections for women and their unborn babies.
Terms such as "health," "individual," "burden," and "miscarriage care" should be red flags to us whenever we see them in upcoming constitutional amendments regarding "reproductive freedom." If we compare the pro-abortion talking points to the pro-life responses on Ohio's Issue 1, we can see where each of these phrases is used to obscure the true intent of allowing abortion up and through all nine months of pregnancy.
Limits on Abortion
- Pro-Abortion – “...abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability. But 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.”1
- Pro-Life – “In U.S. law, “health” includes age or physical, emotional, or psychological well-being. This means a woman’s age or emotional health could be cited to justify aborting a full-term baby. An abortion-providing physician would decide when a baby could survive outside the womb, leaving no clear protections for preborn children."2
The amendment states that “abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability” but the treating physician, which would likely be the abortionist, can perform the abortion if it is “necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.” The term “health” has been legally determined to mean not just physical, but also emotional, psychological, financial, and so much more. This gives any abortionist who is being paid for the abortion the freedom to perform the abortion up and through the ninth month of pregnancy as long as they believe it is best for the woman.
Bottom line, this amendment seeks to strike down every limit on abortion in Ohio law and prevent lawmakers from passing any new protections.
- Pro-Abortion – “Ohio law requires young people to get parental consent before getting an abortion or any medical procedure, and Issue 1 does not change that.”3
- Pro-Life – “The initiative's language uses the legal term "individual," which does not differentiate between adults and minors. An "individual" legally refers to citizens of all ages—nullifying parents' rights to stop their children from making harmful decisions."4
The amendment was written with intentionally broad language. The term “individual” legally refers to people of all ages, and therefore if the amendment were to be passed, parental notification laws in Ohio would be struck down.
Furthermore, the amendment states that the State "shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against…a person or entity that assists an individual exercising this right.” This would protect those who may be coercing a woman into an abortion, or even attempting to cover up sexual assault of a minor.
Health and Safety Standards
- Pro-Abortion – The amendment summary states the State "shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against either an individual’s voluntary exercise of this right or a person or entity that assists an individual exercising this right…”5
- Pro-Life – “Health and safety standards in Ohio could be eliminated. Doctors could no longer need to examine a woman or explain the risks of the abortion procedure ahead of time."6 And current Ohio laws "require abortion providers to explain procedure risks and ensure access to hospital transfer if needed. These health and safety standards could be seen as a “burden” and be eliminated, making it even less safe for women seeking an abortion.”7
Due to the overly broad language that the State "shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against…a person or entity that assists an individual exercising this right,” it is highly likely that current state health and safety standards, like transfer agreements, will be struck down by the courts if this amendment were to pass. In the past, the standard of "undue burden" set by the Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey was often used to limit the protections put in place by states. The courts would weigh if the laws were overly burdensome to women seeking abortions. However, with this amendment, they have removed the word "undue, " meaning that they could strike down any law that hinders a woman from seeking an abortion, even if they are there for her safety.
- Pro-Abortion – Miscarriage care is included in the amendment as one of the protected “reproductive decisions.”8
- Pro-Life – “The passing or failure of Issue 1 will have no effect on the care a pregnant woman receives when her life is in danger, even if the treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child. There is a fundamental difference between an elective abortion and the care provided after a miscarriage or for ectopic pregnancies. Women can always receive lifesaving treatment, including in Catholic hospitals. No law restricts this care in Ohio or any other state in the country."9
The inclusion of “miscarriage care” in the list of protected “reproductive decisions” in the amendment is intended to further promulgate the lie that abortion bans also restrict women from accessing miscarriage care or treatment for ectopic pregnancies. No law regulating or banning abortion has ever restricted access to miscarriage treatment or lifesaving measures. The pro-abortion activists hope that by insinuating that miscarriage care might be limited, they can scare voters into passing their amendment out of fear.
By educating ourselves on the actual effects of these constitutional amendments, we can better educate our friends and supporters who are being bombarded with misinformation. Terms like "health," "individual," "burden," and "miscarriage care" should raise red flags for anyone concerned about the protection of the unborn and the wellbeing of women. As we can see, the proposed amendment in Ohio seeks to eliminate every limit on abortion, infringe upon parental rights, compromise health and safety standards, and spread misinformation about the accessibility of miscarriage care. By staying informed and countering misinformation, we can ensure that our democratic processes uphold the values and protections we hold dear as we head into the 2024 election season.
- Greater Columbus Right to Life Talking Points
- Ohio Catholic Conference – Where Does it Say That?
- Ohio Catholic Conference Issue 1 FAQ
- Ohio Right to Life Issue 1 Talking Points
- Protect Women Ohio Issue 1 – Read it for Yourself