Controversial Transgender Groups Endorse Ohio’s Abortion-Related Issue One
An LGBT pressure group that advocates teaching transgender ideology to children in preschool has endorsed an abortion-related state constitutional amendment that could also create a constitutional “right” for minors to have transgender surgeries without their parents’ knowledge or approval. In addition, the transgender activist group is joined by one of the nation’s largest profiteers from injecting minors and young adults with cross-sex hormones.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has endorsed Ohio Issue One, the so-called “Right to Make Reproductive Decisions Including Abortion Initiative.” Its supporters say the amendment aims to “enshrine” the right to abortion in Ohio’s constitution. But critics point out that the amendment grants the right to make “reproductive decisions including but not limited to abortion” to “every individual,” instead of every adult. That could apply to transgender procedures, since puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone injections, and transgender surgeries can sterilize their recipients.
“HRC is endorsing Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights (OURR) — a group of local coalitions” including TransOhio and EqualityOhio that supports Issue One, said the group’s press release. “Human Rights Campaign members and supporters in Ohio are ready to fight alongside local advocates” to support the initiative, which will ensure “comprehensive reproductive medical care, including abortion, is available to every Ohioan,” said HRC president Kelley Robinson.
HRC’s “Welcoming Schools” program instructs teachers to read the book “They, She, He, Easy as ABC” to children in preschool or kindergarten. Its pre-K lesson plan defines “gender identity” as “How you feel. Girl, boy, both or neither. Everyone has a gender identity,” conducts school trainings, and creates lesson plans for teachers beginning in “pre-K.” By third grade, it encourages students to use the “Gender Snowperson” exercise to “understand the differences between gender identity, sexual orientation and sex assigned at birth.”
The HRC, an LGBT activist group with a $46 million budget, opposes laws protecting minors from transgender procedures and has denounced laws “allowing misgendering of transgender students” or regulating “drag performances.”
Local family groups say HRC’s endorsement justifies their concerns and should give Ohio voters pause. “The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s leading activist group advocating for minors’ ‘right’ to undergo transgender surgeries and receive dangerous puberty blocking drugs and wrong-sex hormones, endorsing Planned Parenthood’s abortion initiative is further proof that this proposed constitutional amendment is far more extreme than you might think,” David Mahan, policy director at the Columbus-based Center for Christian Virtue, told The Washington Stand.
“This opens the door for children of all ages to make life-changing decisions, absent parental involvement, that permanently disfigure or destroy their reproductive systems or organs,” wrote Mehek Cooke, an Ohio-based attorney born in India. She decried “the ACLU’s efforts to cloak its anti-parent agenda in a web of abortion rights messaging. … [T]he ACLU knew exactly what it was doing when it helped draft this radical anti-parent amendment.”
Issue One’s prime supporter, Planned Parenthood, stands to benefit financially from both the amendment’s abortion and transgender-related interpretations. Since the Dobbs decision, Planned Parenthood has become heavily involved in carrying out transgender procedures — including giving puberty blockers and/or cross-sex hormones to children as young as 12. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s 2019-2020 annual report stated that “[m]ore than 200 [Planned Parenthood offices] in 31 states provid[e] hormone [injections] for transgender patients.” PPFA’s most recent report listed “transgender services” as part of the 15,902 “other services” it carried out in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The Ohio state Planned Parenthood affiliate has followed suit.
“Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (PPGOH) is proud to provide gender-affirming care, including hormone therapy,” including testosterone and estrogen/antiandrogen hormones, states PPGOH’s website. “We’re committed to helping you access this care,” it says — so committed that “[a] therapist’s letter is not required to begin hormone therapy.” (PPGOH adds that it is “happy to recommend trans- and nonbinary - friendly therapists in the area.”)
The twin endorsements represent the growing overlap between well-funded, socially liberal organizations. Last November, Kelley Robinson became Human Rights Campaign president directly after leaving her role as executive director of Planned Parenthood’s lobbying arm, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “The fight for reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights” and other left-wing causes “have never been more intertwined,” said Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson at the time.
“It’s essential that we get enough power,” Robinson told the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Robinson also accused conservatives of “launching a culture war against our kids in the digital space.”
“When groups show us who they are, we would be wise to believe them,” Mahan told TWS.
Despite the growing comity and convergence between the abortion and transgender industries, opponents have been accused of gaslighting the voters by pointing out the amendment’s potential application beyond abortion. That became a central issue in last month’s Ohio election on Issue One — a different amendment with the same name that would have raised the bar before amending the state constitution. The largest group supporting the initiative, Protect Women Ohio, repeatedly warned the low threshold would ease the passage of the November Issue One, allowing experimentation on children in the name of “gender-affirming care.” The liberal Ohio Capital Journal fact-checked the group by stating the abortion amendment does not directly “mention” transgender surgeries — precisely its opponents’ point. An article at Slate.com claimed the GOP seeks “the long-term maintenance of transphobic anxiety in the electorate as a means to achieve their other political goals,” since the LGBT movement is “a tiny minority with little political power.”
The HRC celebrated after 57% of Ohio voters rejected the measure on August 8, stating the election “result made clear Ohioans’ commitment to ensuring that LGBTQ+ rights [and] abortion rights … are reflected in how their state is governed.”
This November’s Issue One continues to generate controversy from both Left and Right. Pro-life advocates say the text of the amendment violates state law, which requires that ballot initiatives must “include the text of any existing statute or constitutional provision that would be amended or repealed if the proposed law or constitutional amendment is adopted.”
Meanwhile, the measure’s supporters have taken umbrage at the official summary approved by Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The amendment would reinstate the broad exception for the “health of the mother” instituted by Doe v. Bolton. The amendment states “abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability,” unless the doctor believes abortion “is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.” Ohio voters will understand that this means Issue One would “always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability if, in the treating physician’s determination” giving birth would in any way impair the mother’s physical or mental health.
They also object that the language refers to a “fetus” as an “unborn child.”
The most recent poll, released by Ohio Northern University in late July, found Issue One would pass with 54% support.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.