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Debunking the Lies of Ohio’s Pro-Abortion Ballot Initiative
Former Executive Director
Ohio Right to Life | 13 April 2023
On March 13th, 2023, the Ohio Ballot Board approved the language for a proposed, pro-abortion ballot amendment entitled, “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety.” This radical measure, which proposes adding a right to abortion into the Ohio Constitution, could now appear on the ballot in Ohio provided enough signatures were amassed for its petition. Following this approval, Protect Choice Ohio, the pro-abortion organization behind the amendment, began their race to obtain roughly 413,000 signatures from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties before the July 5th deadline.
The pro-life movement quickly responded through their anti-amendment coalition, a group aptly titled “Protect Women Ohio,” and put forth an ad exposing the amendment’s direct attack on parental rights. Within hours, a misinformation campaign mobilized. On social media, the pro-abortion side mocked the ad’s allegations and asserted that the topics of minors obtaining abortions and sex-change surgeries were not mentioned in the amendment’s language. Meanwhile, the media quoted, at length, Protect Choice Ohio’s rebuttal of the ad, which assured Ohioans that nothing in the amendment would affect Ohio’s current parental consent laws.
An even rudimentary understanding of the preeminence of constitutional rights over home rule will quickly dispel this notion as a blatant misdirection. If the amendment does indeed leave room to grant minors a right to abortion, no parental consent law would override a change in Ohio’s constitution. Certainly, if the right to abortion, for not only adults but vulnerable minors as well, is established in the state of Ohio, any protections parents may hope to retain in shielding their children from a predatory abortion industry will be all but destroyed. Furthermore, by examining the repercussions following the enactment of similarly extreme abortion measures across the United States, it is all too easy to confirm that this amendment truly is as dangerous as Protect Women Ohio asserts it to be.
Enacting a right to abortion creates many ripple effects across state law. For a recent example, we need look no further than another state in the Midwest: Illinois. In 2013, the Supreme Court of Illinois found a right to abortion in the state’s constitution. By 2019, the Illinois state legislature had passed sweeping abortion legislation that explicitly stated the right of an individual to have an abortion. Not long after, Illinois’ parental consent law regarding abortion was repealed, and as of 2022, a minor in Illinois can obtain an abortion without ever telling their parents it had occurred.
Here, the terminology of Ohio’s ballot initiative becomes vitally important. Like the measures passed in Illinois, Ohio’s abortion amendment outlines an individual's right to an abortion. The term “individual” is key. By using “individual” as opposed to “woman” or even “adult,” in amendment language, the pro-abortion side broadens their proposal to include the right of minors to get abortions, not simply adults.
This intentional use of language creates disastrous consequences and actively empowers abusers. Without proper parental notifications in place, pedophiles may easily force abortions on their victims without the children’s parents ever realizing the abuse is taking place. Additionally, abusers would benefit not only from the streamlined process by which abortions may be committed on their victims, but by the amendment’s language which also recognizes the right of an individual to help someone obtain an abortion. This opens the door for a continued cycle of abuse, with every new “transaction” further lining the pockets of the abortion industry. Although Protect Choice Ohio claims that scenarios like this will not happen due to abortion facilities being required by law to report suspected abuse, the abortion industry’s track record in Ohio does anything but inspire confidence.
In 2003, youth soccer coach John Haller impregnated a 14-year-old girl he was coaching. After coercing her into getting an abortion at an Ohio Planned Parenthood, he pretended to be her father over the phone and gave his consent for the procedure. Planned Parenthood didn’t look into the matter even after Haller showed up at the facility now claiming to be the girl’s stepbrother and showed both his Ohio Driver’s License and credit card to staff during the abortion process. The girl’s parents later sued Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio and sought discovery of any other abuse reports or abortions done on non-party minors for the sake of ascertaining if any other cases had conveniently slipped through the cracks. Planned Parenthood refused to provide any additional reports for review. This is far from the only documented case in Ohio, but it does comprise a realistic look into just how little thought the abortion industry gives to preventing the sexual assault of children.
It is naive to believe that the abortion industry, once given a blank check, will suddenly become willing to police itself at the expense of its bottom line. Make no mistake, this amendment will empower abusers and tie the hands of every parent attempting to protect their own children. Unfortunately, enabling abusers is not the only disastrous consequence this ballot amendment would have on Ohio.
Although the amendment claims it would limit abortion to the point of fetal viability, it also contains a clause greenlighting an abortion if the woman is deemed to need an abortion for her “life or health.” Truly, history shows us that this forms no safeguard at all. Under nearly 50 years of Roe, which also utilized a viability framework, countless late-term abortions were performed, the majority of which were done for largely the same reasons that women get abortions during any other time in pregnancy: for personal and financial reasons. These are not the heartbreaking life-and-death circumstances during which abortion apologists claim late-term abortions only ever occur. Broad exceptions such as life or health, which can easily be construed to include mental health, leave gaping holes in viability language and negate any meaningful safeguard such restrictions could provide. If this amendment passes, late-term abortions will be committed virtually unrestricted in Ohio, on viable babies who can and will feel excruciating pain.
To make matters even worse, this amendment will undoubtedly force Ohio taxpayers, regardless of their views on this issue, to foot the bill for these abortions. In Alaska and Minnesota for example, both states have recognized the right to abortion, and as a result, taxpayers have long been forced to pay for abortions via Medicaid. If the pro-abortion side succeeds in passing their ballot initiative, Ohio will most likely follow suit. Current statistics estimate that 3,300 abortions are prevented in Ohio annually by the state’s decision to not cover abortions through Medicaid. If this is repealed, the rate of abortions will rise dramatically, and taxpayers can expect to pay for that increase to the tune of a four-million-dollar tax increase.
Lastly, the amendment leaves the potential for minors to undergo sex-change surgeries without parental consent. The intentional choice to define reproductive choices as “including but not limited to” contraception, abortion, etc., broadens the amendment’s scope and could be interpreted to allow for sex-change operations to be performed on minors without any form of recourse available to parents. Although Protect Choice Ohio vehemently denies allegations that the amendment could bring this about, it is not difficult to imagine how it could be used to that end. Vague language is no less dangerous than explicit language. Potentially, it is even more so.
No reasonable argument exists as to how Ohio will escape this documented progression of extremism if Protect Choice Ohio’s ballot amendment passes in November. Rather, the wishful thinking, or arguably, intentional denial propagated by Protect Choice Ohio only serves to reveal their true goals. Enshrining abortion in Ohio’s constitution has nothing to do with protecting the health and safety of women and girls. It does, however, have everything to do with pushing radical, anti-family policies at the expense of the people of Ohio. By unilaterally labeling their opposition liars, the pro-abortion side, confident that the average Ohioan will not see past the amendment’s legal-speak, expects that we will simply shut up and sign. They are sorely mistaken. Ohioans prioritize and protect the safety of their families, not the politically-motivated schemes of special interest groups. Despite what Protect Choice Ohio may say, Ohioans deserve to know the truth. It will be up to good people throughout the state of Ohio to fight back against dangerous misinformation and educate their friends and neighbors about this egregious attempt to enable abusers and enshrine abortion in our state. The lives and safety of our most vulnerable depend on it.
 Sheikh, Samana. “Ohio Ballot Board Approves Abortion Rights Amendment.” spectrumnews1.com. Spectrum News 1, March 13, 2023. https://spectrumnews1.com/oh/columbus/politics/2023/03/13/ohio-ballot-board-approves-citizen-initiated-reproductive-freedom-amendment#:~:text=Ohio%20Ballot%20Board%20approves%20abortion%20rights%20amendment%2C%20gives%20green%20light%20for%20signatures&text=COLUMBUS%2C%20Ohio%20%E2%80%94%20The%20Ohio%20Ballot,Protections%20for%20Health%20and%20Safety.%E2%80%9D.
 Pelzer, Jeremy. “Proposed Ohio Abortion-Rights Constitutional Amendment Clears Another Hurdle, Signature-Gathering Can Begin.” cleveland.com, March 16, 2023. https://www.cleveland.com/news/2023/03/proposed-ohio-abortion-rights-constitutional-amendment-passes-another-hurdle.html.
 “Protect Women Ohio: Fear the Worst.” YouTube. YouTube, March 15, 2023. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn9Jrl76-Fo&embeds_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fprotectwomenohio.com%2F&embeds_origin=https%3A%2F%2Fprotectwomenohio.com&feature=emb_imp_woyt.
 Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights. “Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights on Instagram: ‘This Ad Is Filled with Lies. Read the Amendment for Yourself at Protectchoiceohio.com.’” Instagram. Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Choice, April 2, 2023. https://www.instagram.com/reel/CqjOR02A9zy/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y%3D.
 Henry, Megan. “Anti-Abortion Group Protect Women Ohio Is Spending $5 Million on New Ad Campaign.” ohiocapitaljournal.com. Ohio Capital Journal, March 16, 2023. https://ohiocapitaljournal.com/2023/03/16/anti-abortion-group-protect-women-ohio-is-spending-5-million-on-new-ad-campaign/.
 Hope Clinic for Women, Ltd. v. Flores, casetext.com (Supreme Court of Illinois 2013). https://casetext.com/case/hope-clinic-for-women
 “Illinois.” Center for Reproductive Rights. Center for Reproductive Rights, February 1, 2023. https://reproductiverights.org/maps/state/illinois/.
 “Illinois Drops Parental Consent Requirement for Pregnant Minors Seeking an Abortion.” ABC7 Chicago. ABC7 Chicago, June 1, 2022. https://abc7chicago.com/illinois-abortion-law-parental-consent-notification/11916194/.
 “Petition Language.” #ProtectChoiceOhio. Protect Choice Ohio, February 21, 2023. https://protectchoiceohio.com/petition_language.
 See 
 Roe v. Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio, Supreme Court of Ohio (Supreme Court of Ohio 2009). https://www.supremecourt.ohio.gov/rod/docs/pdf/0/2009/2009-ohio-2973.pdf
 See 
 Foster, Diana Greene, and Katrina Kimport. “Who Seeks Abortions at or After 20 Weeks?” Wiley Online Library. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., November 4, 2013. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1363/4521013#.
 New, Michael J. “Ohio's Proposed Multimillion-Dollar Abortion Tax Increase.” National Review. National Review, March 20, 2023. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/ohios-proposed-multimillion-dollar-abortion-tax-increase/.