Issue 1 protects the right to contraceptive services, infertility management, miscarriage management and would enshrine the right to an abortion, to the point of fetal viability, in the state’s constitution. Opponents of the amendment say that it goes too far.
“Almost assuredly the ramifications of that will be quickly known,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said in a July interview.
“This is enshrining what has already been in place in the state of Ohio for the last 50 years,” Doctor Jason Sayat, a Columbus OB-GYN said. “It is a very precise, succinct amendment.”
Sayat said while ‘fetal viability’ has never been medically defined, in Ohio it is recognized as the 22-to-24-week mark of pregnancy.
“Less than or about 1% of abortions occur after 21 weeks,” Sayat said. “And it’s usually due to newly found or unforeseen information that carries complications to the mother and/or fetus.”
Sayat said terms like “late-term abortion” are misinformation.
“Late term abortion is verbiage that’s been used to misconstrue the reality of what we do on a day-to-day basis,” Sayat said. “Term abortions are something that never happen, they will never be legal and no provider in Ohio would ever pursue that upon request.”
The language that Ohioans will see on their ballot at the polls was certified by the Ohio Ballot Board. The summary language replaces the term “fetus” with “unborn child.” NBC4 asked Sayat if those words are synonymous.
“Medically, no,” Sayat said. “The correct terminology is ‘fetus’ and not ‘unborn child’ and when we use medical terminology, we try to use evidence-based terminology.”
Sayat also said if this amendment does pass, anyone under the age of 18 would still need parental consent to have an abortion unless they are legally emancipated or carry a ruling from a judge.
But many Republican state leaders say either way, this amendment goes too far — and is out of touch with what Ohioans want. Currently, Ohio has the Heartbeat Law on the books, that bans abortion at six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest, but that law has been put on pause by a county judge.
Now, Gov. Mike DeWine, who signed the law, wants to see it modified. And last year Huffman said he wanted to clean up its language.
“Tightening up definitions regarding health of the mother, things like that, addressing a lot of the medical questions the medical community has raised,” Huffman said on Nov. 16, 2022.
‘We think we can make the heartbeat bill better by getting better definitions; things that I think weren’t really contemplated when it was passed a few years ago.”
A spokesperson for Senate Republicans said they ran out of time last year to make those changes, but since then, state lawmakers have not attempted to modify the heartbeat law.
Now, Speaker of the House Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said regardless, election night won’t be where this conversation ends.
“I think the legislature will be very busy after November the seventh,” Stephens said.
“This is an issue, regardless of the outcome of the election, that will continue to be discussed in the legislature regardless of the outcome of the election.”