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Ohio abortion amendment ballot language angers advocates, triggers lawsuit

by | Aug 29, 2023

By Bridget Sielicki

The Ohio Ballot Board approved language last Thursday that will be shown to voters during the state’s upcoming election on an amendment that would enshrine the “right” to abortion in the state’s constitution — and supporters of the amendment aren’t happy.

Abortion supporters say the ballot language is an “abomination,” as it contains a number of revisions and differs from the text shown to voters who petitioned to place the amendment on the November ballot. Among the most notable changes is the word “fetus” replaced with “unborn child.”

Other changes rewrite sections to more accurately convey what the voters will be deciding. For example, while the original version says “… in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health,” the new version explains the amendment would, “Always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability, if, in the treating physician’s determination, the abortion is necessary to protect the pregnant woman’s life or health.”

Supporters of the amendment, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, have reportedly filed a lawsuit against the ballot board — a fight that would go to the Ohio Supreme Court. In an email, the Ohio-based pro-life group Created Equal stated “the Ohio Supreme Court should reject this request and allow the board’s accurate summary of the language to remain.”

A comparison of the two versions can be sweet in a tweet from reporter Morgan Trau below.

Supporters of the abortion amendment have blasted the language change.

“The entire summary is propaganda,” said Lauren Blauvelt, co-chair of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the group behind the proposed amendment. “The amendment that is put forward is clear about reproductive freedom and reproductive health care decisions that Ohioans should be able to make for themselves, and that is ultimately what the vote in November will be about.”

State Senator Theresa Gavarone praised the rewritten language, noting that it more accurately portrays the reality of the amendment. “The Ohio Ballot Board’s mission today was to create ballot language that accurately describes the proposed amendment as written,” Gavarone said in a statement, adding:

The language of the amendment is purposefully written very broadly. As such, the summary approved today accurately reflects the broad language of the amendment. I wish the language would have been more specific to the voters as to what this proposed amendment means and the disastrous consequences its passage will have on women and families.

That being said, I am thankful to have played a part in setting the record straight and am proud to deliver the truth to Ohioans about this dangerous proposal.

In response to the complaints, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose reminded voters that the full text of the amendment — which differs from the ballot language — will be readily available for public viewing. “[The text] is presented on a poster in the polling location, and will be published in newspapers throughout the state and available through a whole variety of publications as well,” LaRose said.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News [https://www.liveaction.org/news/ohio-abortion-ballot-language-angers-advocates] and is reposted with permission.

Categories: State Legislation