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CINCINNATI (WCMH) – A former state lawmaker and one-time candidate are trying to block an abortion rights amendment from making it on voters’ ballots in the November election.
In a lawsuit filed in the Ohio Supreme Court Friday, former Republican Rep. Thomas Brinkman and Jennifer Giroux, who ran for both state and U.S. House seats, argued the proposed amendment does not include the laws they argue would be repealed upon its passage. With the November election a little more than three months away, the Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to expedite the case.
Per state law, citizen-initiated constitutional amendments must include any statute or constitutional provision that would be amended or repealed due to the amendment. An attorney for Brinkman and Giroux, both Hamilton County residents, argued the abortion rights amendment, which would ensure the right to an abortion up until fetal viability or for the health of the mother, would repeal three laws that restrict abortion access.
One law the challengers point to is the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” which became law in 2019 and outlaws abortions after the detection of fetal cardiac activity, or at about six weeks of pregnancy. The law is currently unenforceable pending a decision by the Ohio Supreme Court.
The duo’s attorney also argued the amendment would nullify a law requiring parental consent – or a judicial bypass of that consent – for unemancipated minors to undergo abortions. The third law cited is a provision prohibiting medical providers from performing abortions when the fetus is suspected to have Down Syndrome.
“Said provisions do not restrict the power of the people to vote or to sign statewide initiative petitions but, instead, simply ensure the integrity of and confidence in the process, including deterring fraud by circulators who might misrepresent the effect of the proposal within an initiative petition,” wrote Curt Hartman, attorney for the Giroux and Brinkman.
The lawsuit was filed days after the proposed amendment, spearheaded by Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, was certified to appear on November ballots. It also comes as the latest of several attempts to block the amendment.
Weeks after the reproductive rights groups submitted ballot language to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, members of Cincinnati’s Right to Life asked the Ohio Supreme Court to overrule the Ohio Ballot Board’s certification of the language. In June, the Supreme Court rejected the challenge, asserting that the initiative aligned with state law governing proposed amendments.
In their response, attorneys for the committee representing the petitioners claimed, in a single sentence, that requiring the inclusion of the text of any law that would be repealed under a proposed amendment is in and of itself a violation of the state constitution’s initiated amendment provisions.
In a statement, Lauren Blauvelt, spokesperson for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights said the group expects the challenge to be rejected.
“Anti-choice extremists know they can’t win at the ballot box, so they have filed a lawsuit in a desperate attempt to silence the clear majority of Ohioans who support reproductive freedom,” Blauvelt said. “We have met every requirement to be on the ballot as the Secretary of State has already certified.
The Ohio Supreme Court has not yet accepted the case for review.
Read the complaint below.