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Sebastian's Point

Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at soss.submissions@gmail.com. Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.

The Impact of Ohio's New Abortion Amendment on Pregnancy Centers

Brooke Sciarretti

Director

Cleveland Pregnancy Center   |  08 April  2024

 

Ohio, like many states, has been at the forefront of debates surrounding access to abortion services. Recently, Ohio voters made a significant decision regarding abortion on Election Day, November 7th, 2023 by passing Issue 1, an abortion ballot measure aimed at creating a constitutional right to abortion in the state.1

 

 

Issue 1, also known as the Right to Make Reproductive Decisions Including Abortion Initiative, sought to guarantee a constitutional right to abortion and other “reproductive health care” services in Ohio. This measure passed with 56.78% of voters in favor, and 43.22% voting against.2 This vote came on the heels of Ohio's 6-week abortion ban being blocked, further highlighting the state's evolving stance on reproductive rights legislation.

 

 

The passage of this ballot initiative marks a pivotal moment with far-reaching consequences.

 

 

With its approval, Ohio's legislature is now permanently restricted from passing any future laws to protect the preborn. This means that the issue of abortion is effectively taken out of legislative hands for the foreseeable future.

 

 

Moreover, it's important to highlight that this measure not only allows abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy but also enshrines minors' "right" to undergo risky sex-change surgeries without parental consent. This aspect of the initiative raises serious concerns regarding parental rights and the well-being of minors, as it grants them access to life-altering medical procedures without necessary oversight from their parents or legal guardians.3

 

 

This significant legislative change has also brought about profound effects, particularly on pregnancy centers in the state. We will explore just some of the implications of this amendment on pregnancy centers in Ohio, examining the challenges they face currently, those they will face in the future, and the responsibilities they uphold in the midst of evolving abortion laws.

 

 

Pregnancy centers in Ohio play a crucial role in supporting individuals facing unplanned pregnancies. These centers offer a range of services, including counseling, education, material assistance, and emotional support. However, the new abortion amendment presents unique challenges for these centers that likely go unnoticed by most.

 

 

One major implication of the passage of Issue 1 is the decrease in expectant mothers seeking out pregnancy centers on their own, a trend likely influenced by two significant shifts. First, negative media attention and portrayal of pregnancy centers, fueled by the heightened scrutiny and media coverage surrounding Issue 1, have cast these centers in a detrimental light. Media narratives labeling pregnancy centers as "fake clinics" or "manipulative" have instilled shame and fear in women facing unexpected pregnancies, deterring them from accessing the resources provided by these centers. Secondly, with the removal of many abortion restrictions in Ohio, women in crisis may instinctively turn to abortion facilities without considering alternative options. The newfound accessibility of abortion may overshadow the support and assistance offered by pregnancy centers, leading fewer women to seek their services in times of need.

 

 

With fewer women seeking out pregnancy centers independently due to minimal legal restrictions in place, there's an added necessity for these centers to strategically market their services and effectively reach the community. This places an increased demand on pregnancy centers to innovate their outreach efforts and ensure accessibility for individuals facing unplanned pregnancies.

 

 

Moreover, the constant changing of laws surrounding abortion creates confusion for patients, further complicating their decision-making process. In my personal experience as a Center Director in Cleveland, Ohio, we saw an increase in women calling with concerns that the laws would change and they wouldn’t be able to get an abortion if they waited. There was a noticeable increase in anxiety and uncertainty in our prospective clients, and those with whom our team met. This uncertainty can lead to heightened anxiety and stress for individuals seeking guidance and support from pregnancy centers and often can lead them straight to abortion facilities guided so prominently by their fear.

 

 

Furthermore, the decision to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution has put other abortion restrictions and requirements in question and at risk. Measures such as the 24-hour waiting period, parental consent, and required ultrasounds are now being subject to legal challenges, making it even more difficult for pregnancy centers to engage with women considering abortion. We have recently seen the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), challenging the 24-hour waiting period and its required ultrasound and meeting with a doctor.4

 

 

Removing these requirements not only hinders the ability of pregnancy centers to provide necessary information and education but also diminishes the opportunity for women to make informed decisions about their pregnancies. For instance, the removal of the ultrasound requirement deprives women of the chance to see their child in utero, a factor that has been instrumental in influencing many clients to choose life after seeing the ultrasound imaging.

 

 

The increased accessibility of abortion in Ohio underscores the critical role of pregnancy centers in providing education, resources, and community awareness about all available options. Now more than ever, pregnancy centers are essential in ensuring that individuals facing unplanned pregnancies have access to comprehensive support and assistance, free of charge.

 

 

There is also a heightened need to bolster post-abortion healing programs to support men and women following the emotional and psychological aftermath of abortion. Pregnancy centers play a vital role in offering compassionate care and support to individuals navigating the complex emotions and challenges associated with abortion, emphasizing the importance of expanding and strengthening these programs in light of recent legislative changes.

 

 

Ohio's new abortion amendment has significant implications for pregnancy centers in the state, necessitating adaptation and resilience in the face of evolving abortion legislation. Despite the challenges posed, pregnancy centers remain steadfast in their commitment to providing compassionate support and resources to individuals navigating unplanned pregnancies. By upholding their responsibilities and advocating for access to alternatives to abortions, these centers play a vital role in supporting women facing unplanned pregnancies, and building up communities and families with life-changing, life-altering resources.

 

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  1. Tebben, Susan, and Nick Evans. “Ohio voters pass Issue 1 constitutional amendment to protect abortion and reproductive rights • Ohio Capital Journal.” Ohio Capital Journal, 7 November 2023, https://ohiocapitaljournal.com/2023/11/07/ohio-voters-pass-issue-1-constitutional-amendment-to-protect-abortion-and-reproductive-rights/. Accessed 2 April 2024.

  2. “Ohio Issue 1, Right to Make Reproductive Decisions Including Abortion Initiative (2023).” Ballotpedia, https://ballotpedia.org/Ohio_Issue_1,_Right_to_Make_Reproductive_Decisions_Including_Abortion_Initiative_(2023). Accessed 30 March 2024.

  3. Ohio Right to Life. “The Truth About the Abortion Ballot Initiative.” Ohio Life, https://ohiolife.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/ballot-initiative-talking-points-FINAL-8.5-%C3%97-11-in-3-1.pdf.

  4. Ingles, Jo. “Expect more challenges to Ohio's abortion laws from new constitutional amendment.” Statehouse News Bureau, https://www.statenews.org/government-politics/2024-04-04/expect-more-challenges-to-ohios-abortion-laws-from-new-constitutional-amendment. Accessed 2 April 2024.

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