Why Ohioan should vote NO on Issue 1… even if you are pro-choice

Why Ohioan should vote NO on Issue 1… even if you are pro-choice

As Ohioans head to the polls this election season, one of the most contentious and confusing issues they will face is Issue 1. This proposed amendment to the Ohio State Constitution has sparked heated debates and drawn passionate arguments from both sides. While some may focus on the issue of abortion, we believe that there is a more fundamental reason to vote 'NO' on Issue 1: the poorly written language and undefined terms contained within it, as well as the potential legal morass it could create. Regardless of your stance on abortion, it is crucial to consider the broader implications for Ohio's legal system and the constitution itself.

The Legal Morass:

One of the most significant problems with Issue 1 is its vague and poorly defined language. A constitution should provide clear and unambiguous guidelines for the law. Issue 1, however, leaves many questions unanswered and invites legal challenges and confusion.

  1. Undefined Terms: The language used in Issue 1 fails to define critical terms, leaving the interpretation open to broad and potentially conflicting interpretations. This vagueness could result in lengthy legal battles, as courts would need to determine the scope and meaning of these undefined terms. Such ambiguity is a recipe for confusion and chaos within the legal system.

Here are some examples:  The proposed amendment states that abortion “may be prohibited after fetal viability.” Note: the words do not say “shall be prohibited.” So this action may or may not be attempted by the Legislature at some future point. However, the amendment continues by declaring that “in no case” may an abortion be prohibited if, in the judgment of the treating physician, the abortion is deemed necessary based on the criteria of the patient’s life or health. The meaning of “health” is left wholly undefined.

Meaning: Any law the Legislature attempts to pass protecting a viable unborn child can be disregarded by an abortion provider by simply stating the abortion was necessary for any interpretation of the word “health.”

This power to determine viability is further expanded in the amendment. The attending physician is given sole authority to determine if the unborn “fetus” can survive “with reasonable measures… on a case by case basis.” The words “reasonable measures” are left wholly undefined and left solely in the subjective authority of the attending abortion provider.

The Legislature is banned by this amendment from attempting to protect the life of a viable child. This proposed amendment transfers the legal authority to determine viability solely to the treating physician “on a case-by-case basis.”

  1. Unclear Provisions: The language in Issue 1 lacks the necessary specificity to provide guidance to lawmakers and judges. This lack of clarity could lead to inconsistent application of the law, making it challenging for individuals to understand their rights and obligations under the amendment.

  1. Potential for Abuse: The vague language in Issue 1 also opens the door to potential misuse or abuse of the amendment by future legislators or special interest groups. Without clear constraints, there is a risk that the amendment could be interpreted in ways that were never intended by its proponents, further muddying the waters of Ohio's legal landscape.

Constitutional Amendments vs. Legislative Action:

Beyond the legal concerns, Issue 1 raises an important question about the appropriate means for addressing complex and sensitive issues like abortion. The Ohio State Constitution is not the place to address specific policy matters. Constitutional amendments should be reserved for fundamental principles that stand the test of time, not for issues that require the flexibility to adapt to changing societal attitudes and scientific advancements.

The Ohio Constitution is a foundational document that outlines the structure of government, the rights of citizens, and the basic principles upon which the state operates. It is not a suitable vehicle for addressing complex and divisive issues like abortion, which are better handled through the legislative process.

The proponents of Issue 1 have taken the power from the people by creating an end-run around the legislative bodies who write law.  The law is designed to adapt and change as society changes and evolves its thoughts on complex and moral issues.  Citizens have the ability to affect change through their support for and against proposed legislation in their communications with their elected representatives.  Badly written laws that infringe on human rights are challenged in the courts and struck down.  This is an intrinsic safety mechanism of checks and balances that has served us well.  If Issue 1 were to pass the legislature and courts would be bound and have no authority to act.  The only recourse the citizens would have would be to repeal the amendment and that is not an easy process. Keeping abortion rights in the legislative sphere allows for debate and change at the citizen level, where it belongs. 

Regardless of your personal beliefs on abortion, voting 'NO' on Issue 1 is a prudent choice to avoid a potential legal morass in Ohio. The poorly written language and undefined terms in this proposed constitutional amendment could lead to confusion, lengthy court battles, and unintended consequences. Moreover, it raises a more significant question about the appropriate use of the state constitution for addressing specific policy matters. Complex issues like abortion should be addressed legislatively, not through amendments to the Ohio State Constitution. So, on Election Day, make an informed choice to protect the clarity and integrity of Ohio's legal system, and vote 'NO' on Issue 1.

Portions of this post are taken from the website: “See The Language” It is an excellent resource… please take the time to read the language of the proposed amendment and their excellent explanation.

Graphic from See The Language

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