Ohio Election Official Puts 'Unborn Child' in Ballot Measure

'The entire summary is propaganda,' activist says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 24, 2023 6:35 PM CDT
Ohio Election Official Puts 'Unborn Child' in Ballot Measure
Opposing signs on Issue 1 are posted outside the polling site at Toth Elementary School in Perrysburg, Ohio, on Aug. 8. Voters rejected making changing the state constitution more difficult, a decision with implications for votes on abortion rights.   (Kurt Steiss/The Blade via AP)

The Ohio Ballot Board approved language Thursday for a fall measure seeking to establish abortion access as a fundamental right, but one Democratic member blasted it as "rife with misleading and defective language." Key among opponents' objections is language developed by Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, an abortion opponent, amid warnings the language could face a legal challenge even before the proposal goes before Ohio voters in November. Among the new language, the word "fetus" in the Democrats' proposal was changed to "unborn child" in the ballot measure, the AP reports.

The original summary language seeks to ensure access to abortion through what is called viability, when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb. It stated, "abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability," but not in cases where a treating physician deems the procedure necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person. LaRose's summary turned that section on its head. It now says 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 life and health exception applies.

"The entire summary is propaganda," said Lauren Blauvelt, co-chair of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights. She noted that the state's Republican attorney general, Dave Yost, certified the group's original wording as fair and accurate and that 700,000 Ohioans read it when they signed petitions to get the measure on the fall ballot. "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," she said. The measure, as initially envisioned, seeks to establish "a fundamental right to reproductive freedom" with "reasonable limits."

(Read more abortion debate stories.)

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