Monday, November 13, 2023

GOP legislators in Ohio want to undo abortion referendum

Ohio state Republican lawmakers are once again trying to overturn the will of the people, after a devastating loss on abortion rights, reported The New Republic.

Ohioans overwhelmingly chose to enshrine abortion protections in the state Constitution earlier this week. Republicans had tried multiple times to block the referendum, called Issue 1, but they were handily defeated every time.

So on Friday, the state GOP unveiled a new tactic: stopping the courts from allowing the new amendment to take effect.

“To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with Issue 1, Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative,” Republican state representatives said in a press release. “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.”

The new amendment doesn’t take effect until December 7, and even then, it isn’t automatically implemented. Each individual abortion restriction needs to be repealed by a court. And Ohio has a lot of restrictions.

Abortion is legal up to 22 weeks, but certain abortion procedures are banned. Patients must wait 24 hours and undergo anti-abortion biased counseling before they can undergo the procedure. State-based insurance is prohibited from covering abortion services, and minors must have the consent of a parent, guardian, or judge in order to get an abortion.

As abortion reporter Jessica Valenti explained, Ohio Republicans don’t want the courts to repeal all of these restrictions. They want the GOP-controlled state legislature to decide whether to repeal the restrictions.

In the press release, lawmakers also blamed “foreign billionaires” for interfering in the election and tipping it in favor of abortion rights. In reality, right-wing billionaires and organizations donated millions of dollars from out of state (although still domestically) to try to block Issue 1.

This isn’t the first time Ohio Republicans have blatantly ignored—and actively worked against—what the people want. In August, they tried to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote instead of a simple majority.

When that failed, the Ohio Ballot Board voted 3–2, along party lines, to change the text of the amendment on the ballot to a Republican-authored summary littered with inflammatory and fearmongering language.

Republicans have repeatedly refused to accept the results of elections on abortion, in a massive threat to local democracy. In Kansas, despite residents voting overwhelmingly in August 2022 to keep abortion rights in the state Constitution, the state legislature is still trying to pass laws that would restrict abortion access. And in Wisconsin, after voters elected a state Supreme Court judge in large part because of her outspoken support for abortion access, state Republicans tried to impeach her.

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