Abortion Access

Stung by ballot loss, anti-abortion politicians in Ohio propose overturning democracy

  Rob Boston

Yesterday on “The Wall of Separation” blog we mentioned that some Republicans in Ohio are working to undercut a recent ballot initiative that will enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. The effort is so outrageous – and undemocratic – that it’s worth saying more about it.

The initiative, Issue 1, passed by more than 13 points on Nov. 7. That would seem to be a definitive sign that Ohioans want to protect abortion rights.

Yet some legislators have other ideas. Ohio Capital Journal reported, “27 state representatives signed a letter promising to ‘do everything in our power to prevent our laws from being removed.’ They argued Issue 1’s language was ‘vague’ and ‘intentionally deceptive.’” (“Our laws” refers to the state’s restrictive abortion provisions.)

Undermining judicial review

One of their proposals is to remove the issue of abortion from the jurisdiction of the Ohio courts, leaving state judges unable to interpret the new provision.

Despite what these lawmakers say, the people of Ohio knew exactly what they were voting for. The issue dominated the news for months, and both sides weighed in. Abortion opponents, including the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, spread misinformation, claiming that the initiative would permit infanticide or violate parental rights. Voters didn’t fall for it.

The balloting is over, but the crazy claims just keep on coming. In the wake of the passage of Issue 1, state Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) asserted, “Foreign billionaires don’t get to make Ohio laws. This is foreign election interference, and it will not stand.”

Gross, of course, has put forth no evidence that well-heeled foreigners meddled in the vote.

Sore losers plot next move

Rep. Bill Dean (R-Xenia) insisted that Issue 1 “can be weaponized to attack parental rights or defend rapists, pedophiles, and human traffickers.” Another lawmaker, Rep. Beth Lear (R-Galena), remarked, “No amendment can overturn the God-given rights with which we were born.”

It’s worth remembering the extraordinary lengths Ohio GOP officials went to fix this vote. They proposed requiring a 60% margin to pass it, but voters put the kibosh on that Aug. 8 in a special election. They also sprinkled Issue 1’s language with anti-abortion jargon.

Voters passed it anyway. Now some officials want to simply ignore that clear mandate and continue to allow abortion policy to be determined by their repressive religious beliefs.

Do you ever get the feeling that some of these folks just don’t have much use for democracy?

Photo: Ohioans vote on Nov. 7. Andrew Spear/Getty Images

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The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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