". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


BLACKWELL: Ohio’s Issue 1 Is about More Than Abortion

November 2, 2023

Ohio’s Issue 1 referendum is a contentious proposal that will undoubtedly impact the future of abortion policy in Ohio for the foreseeable future. So far, groups inside and outside the state have dumped more than $40 million into debating the so-called abortion rights amendment. However, some major policies outside the realm of the abortion debate will be impacted if voters write the language of the Issue 1 referendum into the Ohio State Constitution.

Highly credentialed legal scholars have argued that Issue 1 will likely impact state policy on transgender medical procedures — including for minors whose sexual body parts will be altered without the knowledge or approval of their parents or legal guardians.

State and local media have been quick to dismiss these concerns as nothing more than an attempt to obfuscate and scare voters about an issue other than abortion. They have blindly accepted the legal arguments of ideological and, in some cases, financially-motivated advocates to dismiss those concerned about the potential for Issue 1 to have far-reaching effects outside the area of abortion policy.

There’s one big problem with this view. The language of Issue 1 itself.

If Ohioans vote yes, they will be approving the following language:

“Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.” (Emphasis added.)

By including references to completely non-controversial medical procedures like miscarriage care in the text of the amendment, the advocates have cynically sought to create the impression that such procedures are at legal risk if voters decline to enshrine their abortion on demand policy into the Ohio State Constitution.

The amendment states that every individual has a right to make and carry out reproductive decisions. Aren’t minors individuals? We’re hard-pressed to see how status as a minor precludes one from being covered as an “individual” by the legally-binding language of Issue 1, and we’re unaware of any legal definition to the contrary.

Similarly, don’t sex change surgeries and hormone therapies inherently change reproductive human sexual organs that serve a reproductive function? This is the biological imperative of humans. It’s hard to declare a right to do whatever one wishes in regard to their own reproductive desires without casting an expansive net over the autonomy of the individual’s sexual organs — including the individual who happens to be a minor child.

An objective reading of the Issue 1 constitutional amendment language must acknowledge that it says “including but not limited to” decisions on fertility, pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion. One need not be a constitutional attorney to recognize that this is an explicit declaration that the proposed right being created is not limited to pregnancy-related issues like abortion.

This alone should give voters pause. Why is the Issue 1 language written to explicitly state the right goes beyond pregnancy-related issues if it’s simply intended to mandate an unfettered right to abortion?

Is it possible that those urging caution about Issue 1 are not really lunatics wearing tinfoil hats? Perhaps they are simply reading the language of Issue 1 and concluding that it means what is says?

Proponents of Issue 1 are seeking to gaslight the people of Ohio about the nuances of including such language. Legal scholars know very well that laws are often interpreted in a manner that conflicts with their purported intent. In fact, proponents of certain causes have been known to make one argument to the public in order to pass legislation and then a contradictory argument to judges in order to achieve their true objective through the courts.

In network television interviews and other public forums, President Barack Obama vehemently objected to arguments that his proposed individual mandate penalty in the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) constituted a tax on individuals who declined to purchase one of his government-prescribed health insurance plans. After Obamacare was enacted into law and a challenge to the individual mandate penalty reached the U.S. Supreme Court, Obama’s solicitor general argued to the court that the financial penalty was constitutional because it was being enforced through the tax code and the Constitution gives Congress broad authority to set tax policy.

Proponents of Issue 1 are seeking to employ the same kind of “bait and switch” tactic that President Obama and his politically-appointed legal team used to foist the individual mandate penalty on the American people. The famous rock group The Who had a top of the charts song entitled, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It had some memorable lyrics, including, “I’ll get on my knees and pray we don’t get fooled again / Meet the new boss same as the old boss / Don’t get fooled again, no, no … ”

Ohio voters should not let the same cast of wealthy out-of-state political operatives, highly ideological policy advocates, and financially-interested sex-change practitioners to collaborate with national, state, and local media to fool us once again. The life-altering consequences for our children and the corrosive consequences for our culture are too grave to ignore. Clear-thinking Ohioans need to exercise their sacred right to vote and say “NO” to the Issue 1 referendum. Don’t get fooled again, no, no!

Ken Blackwell is senior fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at Family Research Council. He formerly served as Secretary of State for Ohio.