COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The abortion rights amendment will proceed to the ballot as planned.
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the language of the amendment Friday afternoon, days before a constitutionally required deadline of Aug. 14. With the high court’s rejection, the amendment’s path to the ballot box has been cleared.
The challenge, spearheaded by two Republicans – including a former lawmaker – from Hamilton County, argued the proposed amendment should have included the language of three statutes that would be repealed upon its passage. The amendment seeks to constitutionally protect the right to abortion up until fetal viability, as determined by a person’s physician.
The proposed abortion rights amendment – soon expected to be dubbed Issue 1 – provides for the following:
- Every Ohioan has a right to make their own reproductive decisions, including contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage and abortion
- The state cannot burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with or discriminate against an Ohioan’s decision to exercise their reproductive rights
- Abortion can be prohibited after fetal viability, but it cannot be prohibited if a physician deems the procedure necessary to protect the patient’s life or health
- Fetal viability is defined as the point in a pregnancy when a physician deems the fetus has a “significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures” and is determined on a case-by-case basis
If voters approve the amendment in November, Jennifer Giroux and former Republican Rep. Thomas Brinkman argued it would nullify three laws passed by the state legislature:
- The “Heartbeat Act,” a six-week abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest
- A law requiring parental consent for minors to undergo the procedure, or receive a judge’s consent to bypass that requirement
- A law banning the procedure if the fetus has or is suspected to have Down’s Syndrome
Challengers claimed that because the amendment does not name the above laws as statutes that would be repealed, the amendment should be disallowed from appearing on voters’ ballots.
But the court disagreed, affirming the amendment committee’s argument that proposed constitutional amendments need not detail the legislature-enacted laws that would be impacted – only other constitutional provisions.
“The fair and natural reading of [the law] does not require a petition proposing a constitutional amendment to include the text of an existing statute,” the per curiam opinion read.
Read the court’s opinion below.