Ohio Republicans Now Throwing Everything at the Wall to Stop Abortion Referendum

Conservative politicians and activists keep trying new tactics to keep Ohioans from deciding themselves whether abortion will remain legal in their state.

Ohio Republicans Now Throwing Everything at the Wall to Stop Abortion Referendum
Photo:Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty (Getty Images)

Ohio Republicans really, really don’t want voters to be able to decide whether abortion will remain legal in their state, and they’re now throwing everything at the wall to thwart a ballot measure that would let Ohioans codify abortion protections in the state constitution after the fall of the Roe v. Wade.

GOP state lawmakers have already forced an August special election to make it harder for ballot measures like the coming abortion one to pass, raising the bar for passage from a simple majority (50% +1 vote) to 60%. And conservatives have now filed a lawsuit asking the Ohio Supreme Court to block the measure from appearing on the ballot this fall at all. Former State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R) and former statehouse candidate Jennifer Giroux are suing Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), claiming that the amendment violates state law by not spelling out which laws would be repealed if the amendment were to pass. The suit names as examples a six-week abortion ban, a ban on abortion if there’s a fetal diagnosis of down syndrome, and law requiring parental consent for minors to obtain abortions. The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Curt Hartman, previously sued the Ohio Ballot Board in March over the petition language it approved, but the Ohio Supreme Court rejected the claim.

“While the law requires any petition proposing a constitutional amendment also identify all existing laws that will be repealed as a result, the petitioners failed to include that information,” Hartman told the Dayton Daily News. “Thus, they have conveniently hid from the general public the widespread and radical impact their proposed amendment will have on existing laws, including those dealing with parental rights.”

Lauren Blauvelt, spokeswoman for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that the group had already met every requirement to appear on the ballot, and LaRose himself had certified the amendment for November. “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,” she said. “Once the Court reviews all the relevant facts, we expect this challenge to be rejected.”

Polling shows the amendment itself is popular, while the August 8 special election is unpopular: Ohioans overwhelmingly oppose the effort to change the amendment process, 57 percent to 26 percent. CBS News reported that Republican megadonor Richard Uihlein—CEO of shipping supplies company Uline—is the top funder of Protect our Constitution, the main group supporting the August election.

Abortion is currently legal in Ohio, but only because a judge blocked a six-week ban from taking effect in October. The state is appealing the preliminary injunction, meaning the state Supreme Court could overturn it and ban the vast majority of abortions in the state. Activists are leaving nothing to chance and hoping to codify abortion access in the state constitution to prevent the ban from going into effect.

Ohio is slated to be the seventh state to put abortion to a statewide vote after the fall of Roe, and the pro-choice position won all six times so far, even in red states. No wonder Republicans are scared shitless and trying to thwart democracy.

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