Ohio’s Dangerous and Deceptive ‘Abortion’ Initiative

News: US News
by Martina Moyski  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 29, 2023   

Potential constitutional amendment's inaccurate language open to leftist interpretation

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (ChurchMilitant.com) - Ohioans will vote on a constitutional amendment that, if accepted, will radically transform their state into a free-for-all death trap for unborn babies.

Lizzie Marbach

On Nov. 7, Ohio voters will cast a yes-or-no ballot on the amendment, which is titled "The Right to Reproductive Freedom With Protections for Health and Safety." Among other leftist agendas, it will allow late-term abortions, even up until birth, and leave ill-defined the question of who can legally perform them. 

Aware of the ticking clock, pro-life advocate Lizzie Marbach, former director of communications for Ohio Right to Life, urges pro-lifers to "wake up and recognize what time it is."

She says, "We are on the cusp of state-sanctioned murder of pre-born lives being written into our constitution — not a court opinion, not a piece of legislation but in our guiding document that is meant to protect our liberties and freedoms."

But Marbach and other careful readers of the document realize the amendment ushers in not only abortion anywhere, anytime, by almost anyone but also sex change surgeries for minors and nullification of parental rights, despite million-dollar media campaigns to the contrary.

They don't see how the document also implies transgender rights for Ohioans of whatever age.

A Catholic pro-lifer who prays outside an abortion mill in north Toledo each Saturday said that many people she talks to don't realize the amendment is not just a radical abortion initiative. The former university instructor, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Church Militant:

Many see the Nov. 7 vote simply as a chance to say, "Yes, a woman should have the right to have an abortion." They haven't carefully read the amendment or noticed its deceptive phrasing and word choice. They don't see how the document also implies transgender rights for Ohioans of whatever age and the erosion of parental authority.

He urges voters to access a copy of the document and "read it as carefully as it was craftily written."

Philip Williamson

Indeed, even a quick read of the 222-word amendment shows it is fraught with legal landmines.

For example, the first part of the amendment reads, "Every individual has a right to make and carry out one's own reproductive decisions," words Cincinnati pro-life attorney Philip Williamson says will "guarantee something beyond abortion."

In a recent video interview with Marbach, he urged voters to ask what the phrase "a right to make and carry out one's own reproductive decisions" really means:

When you have any kind of vague and broad phrases like "carrying out one's own reproductive decisions," ... [it] is broad enough to include basically anything that you might want to do with your reproductive organs, which includes trying to trade them for a different set, ... so-called gender-affirming care [and] trans surgeries. All that gets smuggled into this amendment.

Senior counsel Frank Scaturro at the Judicial Crisis Network in Washington, D.C., shares Williamson's concerns. He argues the phrase is legally significant, asserting, "A decision to pursue a procedure regarding any aspect of one's reproductive system is plausibly related to that statement of right."

Issue 1 Loss Aftermath & Unpacking the Ohio Abortion Ballot Initiative | Guest: Philip Williamson

Careful readers also draw attention to the words "every individual" in the first sentence of the amendment, asking why the amendment uses the word "individual" rather than "adult" to make clear exactly who has a right to make "reproductive decisions." The pro-life former university instructor weighed in on this term:

Voters want clarity, not obfuscation, in their constitution. They want the certainty that specific words, like "adult," communicate. This [using the word "individual"] is a sly rhetorical move, pulling the wool over voters' eyes. If they vote yes for the amendment, they are really voting to undermine, even eliminate, parents' say in their child's upbringing by allowing "every individual," regardless of age, a right to reproductive decisions.

Amy Natoce, press secretary for Protect Women Ohio, agrees, saying the use of "individuals" in the proposal suggests it would apply to minors. "This language does not put any parameters on it," Natoce said. "All it says is 'individuals' — if they wanted it to apply to adults, it would say adults. If they wanted it to apply to women, it would say women, but it says 'individuals.' That doesn't put an age limit on it."

Two more legal landmines are camouflaged in the first sentence:

First, there is the amendment's presentation of a list of potential reproductive decisions: contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one's own pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion. These leave a careful reader scratching his head.

Many are asking why the amendment includes certain items to which Ohioans already have legal access. Williamson addresses this question:

They give you a list, right? ... And the idea is to make you think that you have to say yes to abortion in order to say yes to the other things on the list, things that you already enjoy the right to do in Ohio, and that are not an issue in this election. You have always had the right to continue your own pregnancy. You've always had a right to miscarriage care. The only thing that changes with this amendment is adding abortion.

The Toledo pro-life advocate who talked with Church Militant also noted the ordering of the items on the list, calling it "a fear tactic."

Molly Smith

"It is cunning of the ACLU [an anti-family organization that had a hand in drafting the document] to begin with 'contraception,' the most conservative item on the list," he said. "It suggests to Ohio voters, right off the bat, that if they don't vote yes for the amendment, their right to contraception will be threatened."

In addition, the phrase "including but not limited to" is adding to the consternation of critics. They see the "not limited to" wording as an avenue toward allowing minors to undergo so-called gender transition surgeries and treatments without parental consent.

Natoce clearly sees the "including but not limited to abortion" phrase as plausibly involving "other reproductive medical decisions, including sex change surgery," arguing the proposed amendment overall was "intentionally written using extremely broad language."

In light of the landmines, voting no is critical on Nov. 7. Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life, summed up the urgency:

This dangerous and extreme amendment, if approved in November, will enshrine abortion and eliminate existing health and safety protections for women in Ohio, remove all age restrictions on abortion or sex-change surgeries or gender-change treatments, allow painful late-term abortions even up until birth. ... The amendment will further strip away parental rights by nullifying them. This amendment must be defeated in November in order to defend the family and Ohioans of all walks of life.

Smith adds, "The deceitful phrasing of the amendment attempts to frame the outcome as an improvement to women's health issues — this could not be further from the truth."

Why hasn't the archbishop asked every priest in his jurisdiction to hammer home the message?

The Catholic pro-lifer praying outside a Toledo abortion clinic every Saturday left Church Militant with a comment and a question. He said he "deeply appreciated" Cincinnati's Abp. Dennis Schnurr's "thoughtful" Aug. 12 letter to the faithful to oppose the Nov. 7 amendment and will pray as the prelate requested. But, he asked, "Why hasn't the archbishop asked every priest in his jurisdiction to hammer home the message from their pulpits every Sunday? The clock is ticking."

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