Ohio GOP lawmakers call to block courts from implementing new abortion amendment

Ohio GOP lawmakers call to block courts from implementing new abortion amendment

Several Ohio Republican lawmakers are proposing to strip courts of the authority to review cases related to implementing the newly passed Issue 1 abortion amendment.

In a statement released Thursday, four GOP lawmakers claimed without evidence that there was “foreign election interference” in the vote to pass Issue 1 and threatened to block the ability of courts to interpret the new constitutional amendment.

“To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative,” the lawmakers said. “The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides.”

Issue 1 passed Tuesday with 57 percent of the vote. It creates a constitutional right to reproductive freedom in the state, which protects decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing a pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion up to the point of fetal viability.

It allows the state to prohibit abortion after fetal viability, which is generally between 22 and 24 weeks into pregnancy, except when necessary to protect the life or health of the mother.

But Republicans in the General Assembly have vowed to fight the measure.

“Issue 1 doesn’t repeal a single Ohio law, in fact, it doesn’t even mention one,” state Rep. Bill Dean said in Thursday’s statement. “The amendment’s language is dangerously vague and unconstrained, and can be weaponized to attack parental rights or defend rapists, pedophiles, and human traffickers.”

Ohio’s six-week abortion ban that was signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) in 2019 contains no exceptions for rape or incest. It is currently tied up in court but could have taken effect if Issue 1 failed.

In a separate statement, Senate President Matt Huffman (R) said the measure’s passage was “just the beginning of a revolving door of ballot campaigns to repeal or replace Issue 1.”

Issue 1 will take effect in December, but it won’t be implemented until courts apply the new constitutional standard to abortion-related lawsuits, most notably the one challenging the current ban.

The Republican-majority Ohio Supreme Court is the ultimate authority in reviewing laws to determine if they align with the state constitution.

“It is very important that we see the new constitution be upheld,” said Lauren Blauvelt, co-chair of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights. “So all of us who have been continuing to fight litigation … will continue to work together to ensure that the restrictions and bans that are currently in place are no longer in place.”

On the other side, Ohio House Democrats announced Thursday a law to repeal various existing laws that directly or indirectly restrict abortion care in Ohio. But Republicans hold strong majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, so passage will be an uphill fight.

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