A pro-abortion group sued Ohio state officials over ballot language that uses the term “unborn child” rather than “fetus.”
Ohio voters in November will decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in the state.
The Ohio Ballot Board approved ballot language for Issue 1, which states that the proposed amendment would prohibit the government from restricting abortion “before an unborn child is determined to be viable” but 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.”
Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights (OURR), an ad hoc pro-abortion group created to push the Issue 1 ballot initiative, filed suit saying that any reference to an “unborn child” would introduce an “ethical judgment” about “what stage of development a zygote, embryo, or fetus becomes a ‘child,'” Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported.
In a special election last month, Ohio voters rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have made it more difficult to change the Ohio Constitution.
Pro-abortion groups supported the defeat of that measure so that a simple majority remains the threshold for passing future constitutional amendments.
The Ohio Supreme Court will decide what language voters will see on the ballot.
OURR petitioned the state’s Supreme Court to order that voters be provided with the exact language of the proposed amendment, rather than the language finalized by the board.
“Issue 1 was clearly written to protect Ohioans’ right to make our own personal health care decisions about contraception, pregnancy, and abortion, free from government interference,” OURR spokeswoman Lauren Blauvelt said in a statement. “The summary that was adopted by the ballot board is intentionally misleading and fails to meet the standards required by Ohio law.”
The proposed amendment would add a new section to the Ohio Constitution that would create a “right to reproductive freedom.”
It would prohibit the government from restricting abortion before viability, usually occurring at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. If a physician, such as the mother’s abortionist, determines the pregnancy is a threat to her life or health, that abortion right would extend up until birth, CNA reported.
OURR also objected to the board’s language failing to mention the other rights established in the proposed amendment, which also would create a right to make decisions about contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, and miscarriage care.
The board-approved language makes no mention of those items.
“The ballot language’s length and the context in which it was drafted confirm that the above defects are no accident but are, instead, part of a deliberate attempt to mislead and sway voters,” the lawsuit says.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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