Ohio Panel Constitutional Amendment Vote Could Help Stop Radical Abortion Measure

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 19, 2023   |   3:17PM   |   Columbus, Ohio

An Ohio House panel advanced legislation Wednesday to increase the requirements to pass a state constitutional amendment, a measure that could prevent abortion activists from creating a “right” to abort unborn babies in the state.

House Joint Resolution 1, sponsored by state Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, would require a ballot measure to pass with 60 percent of voters’ approval to change the Ohio Constitution, up from the current 50 percent plus one. The bill also would require signatures from all 88 counties on citizen-based initiatives to enact amendments.

If Stewart’s resolution passes and voters approve it on the August ballot, the change could thwart abortion activists’ efforts to pass a pro-abortion amendment in November.

The state House Constitutional Resolutions Committee passed the bill with opposition from one Republican and every Democrat lawmaker, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

Prior to the vote, pro-abortion activists and union leaders demanded that lawmakers reject the legislation, saying it would become much too difficult to pass constitutional amendments under the new restrictions.

Several of them disrupted the meeting when, after three hours of testimony, the chairman, state Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Dayton, decided to end public comment and take a vote, according to the report. Democrat lawmakers walked out of the meeting while activists booed and chanted “Shame!” at pro-life lawmakers.

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Cleveland.com reports security escorted one individual out of the room for disrupting the meeting.

The report continues:

Republicans behind the measure say that too many out-of-state, big moneyed groups come into Ohio and try to alter the state’s constitution. The Ohio Constitution contains too many sections that really should be state law, such as the location of casinos.

But Tim Burga, president of the union Ohio AFL-CIO, told lawmakers that the bill would make it overly burdensome to pass constitutional amendments, pointing to a section that requires signatures from voters in every county.

“Making petitioners hit those same signature thresholds in all 88 counties creates a barrier to the ballot that will almost certainly be unachievable,” Burga said. “In addition, once an issue makes it to the ballot, the campaign to obtain a majority ‘yes’ votes is very difficult as the success rate is just one in four.”

According to the Dispatch, a vote on similar bill, Senate Joint Resolution 2, is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in the state Senate.

Republicans lead the Ohio Legislature, and state Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said he would like to see the resolution on the August ballot, according to the report.

One of the reasons Stewart gave for introducing the legislation late last year was because he wants to make sure unborn babies will be protected from abortion in Ohio.

“After decades of Republicans’ work to make Ohio a pro-life state, the Left intends to write abortion on demand into Ohio’s Constitution,” Stewart wrote in a Dec. 14 email to other pro-life lawmakers. “If they succeed all the work accomplished by multiple Republican majorities will be undone, and we will return to the 19,000+ babies being aborted each year.”

The amendment that abortion activists are proposing would end state laws that protect unborn babies and mothers from abortion and allow abortions for basically any reason up to birth.

Protect Women Ohio, a new pro-life coalition formed to fight against the amendment, has launched a series of ads warning the public that parents also could be stripped of their basic rights.

“Ohioans must vote ‘no’ on this dangerous proposal,” Molly Smith, a board member of Protect Women Ohio, told Townhall. “The ACLU and the abortion industry have a long history of working to abolish parental rights and they are now bringing this anti-parent campaign to our state, hoping to enshrine their hostile political agenda in our state constitution.”

For now, aborting unborn babies is legal in Ohio.

The state heartbeat law bans abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy, and was in effect for a little while last year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. However, pro-abortion groups sued, and a state judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the law. State Attorney General Dave Yost is appealing.

If enforced, the pro-life law has the potential to save tens of thousands of babies’ lives.