Proposed Ohio Amendment May Enshrine Abortion into Law

Ohio has historically been a bellwether state—or predictor—in how the rest of the country will vote in presidential elections. From 1960 until the election of Joe Biden as president, no president has won without carrying Ohio. This often translates to other voting patterns as well. And so all eyes are currently on the state as two important measures are on the ballot.

On August 8, residents will vote on State Issue 1, which determines how proposed amendments make it to the November ballot and increases the percentage of people required to then pass an amendment. If State Issue 1 passes, the percentage of voters who would have to vote “yes” to pass proposed amendments would increase from 50% to 60%. This begins immediately with November’s elections. In addition, this proposal would require—beginning in 2024—amendment campaigns to gather a minimum number of signatures from all 88 counties in Ohio rather than 44, as is now the required number. It would also eliminate the 10-day period that is currently allowed to gather additional signatures if groups did not gather enough during the first attempt.

In November, Ohio residents will vote on whether to add abortion “rights” into the state constitution. The passage of State Issue 1 is important now because pro-abortion advocates have gathered more than enough signatures—709,786, which is almost twice the required amount of 413,487—to add a proposed “reproductive rights” amendment to the state constitution. If State Issue 1 passes, the percentage of voters required to then pass an amendment—including this reproductive rights amendment—would increase to 60%, thus making it more difficult.

Let’s examine the current abortion law in Ohio and what pro-abortion advocates want in the future. Right now, a woman may—for most reasons—legally have an abortion up to 22 weeks into her pregnancy, which is generally accepted as the time the baby is viable outside the womb. Governor Mike DeWine signed a ban last year that would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat was detected, but an Ohio court struck it down because it was “too vague.” This remains on hold until the Ohio Supreme Court hears the case.

The proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would add a section entitled “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety.”

The Amendment reads that “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on 1. contraception, 2. fertility treatment, 3. continuing one’s own pregnancy, 4. miscarriage care, [and] 5. abortion.” It goes on to say that

the state shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against either:

  1. An individual’s voluntary exercise of this right or
  2. A person or entity that assists an individual exercising this right, unless the State demonstrates that it is using the least restrictive means to advance the individual’s health in accordance with widely accepted and evidence-based standards of care.
  3. However, 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.

Note that number three permits indiscriminate decisions by the healthcare professional, allowing for his or her judgment based on what is “necessary.” It then goes on to define fetal viability as “the point in a pregnancy when, in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician, the fetus has a significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.”

There’s a lot of subjectivity here when it comes to the life of a tiny and defenseless preborn baby.

Now that the Dobbs decision has given the abortion decision back to the individual states, what voters in all states, not just Ohio, need to understand is that a woman should never have the “right” to kill her preborn child. This fabricated right has been promulgated by abortion advocates for decades, and it has no basis in anything other than a woman’s sheer desire for what she calls “bodily autonomy.” This term is something we hear often, and it’s made out to be the proverbial gold standard for what women should want. Indeed, NBC News reports that after “reproductive rights groups delivered 42 boxes of signatures to the state capitol in Columbus,” Kellie Copeland, the executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio, said, “Those 42 boxes are filled with hope and dreams of bodily autonomy.”

Hopes and dreams that can apparently only be fulfilled after the death of a child. Yet no one speaks about the hopes and dreams of the child who loses his or her life.

When a woman is pregnant, she carries another human being in her body. That baby is not part of her body; he simply resides within her body. He is his own individual person. He begins as a very tiny single-celled human being who then grows and develops into an embryo and a fetus. Normally, at that stage of development, he is born, thus beginning a different phase of life. But at no point does the baby cease to be human. At no point does the mom cease to be a mother.

So when women scream for bodily autonomy, they are really saying that their wants and desires supersede that of a dependent child. And in Ohio, many want that “right” to be enshrined in the state’s constitution.

Voters everywhere, you have both a choice and a responsibility. If you live in Ohio, on August 8, vote “yes” on State Issue 1 to make it more difficult for this abortion amendment to pass. And then in November, give voice to all the preborn children who cannot speak for themselves. If you live in another state, pay attention to proposed laws in your state. Examine the proposals your local politicians want to pass, and then vote your pro-life beliefs. Tell the world that preborn babies have value and worth and that their bodily autonomy is just as important as their mother’s.

Only when we make our voices heard will we be able to protect both moms and babies from the scourge of abortion.

This article first appeared in the Catholic World Report at catholicworldreport.com/2023/07/25/proposed-amendment-in-ohio-aims-to-enshrine-abortion-into-law.

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About the author

Susan Ciancio

Susan Ciancio is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine and executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program.