Republican faction fights to block Ohio courts from interpreting new abortion rights amendment

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The aftermath of Ohio’s recent abortion rights amendment vote has led to a push from four Republican state lawmakers to limit the power of judges in interpreting the amendment. Voters had chosen to enshrine those rights in the state’s constitution, prompting the legislators to propose that the Legislature, rather than the courts, make decisions regarding the amendment.

Republican state Reps. Jennifer Gross, Bill Dean, Melanie Miller, and Beth Lear issued a news release on Thursday outlining their plan to remove jurisdiction from the judiciary over the “ambiguous” ballot initiative. This move, they argue, is aimed at preventing what they refer to as “mischief by pro-abortion courts” with Issue 1. The lawmakers emphasized that any modifications to existing laws will be considered solely by the Ohio legislature, based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides.

This latest development reflects the ongoing battle over abortion rights between the Republican-dominated Legislature and the majority of voters who passed the amendment with a margin of 57% to 43%. Advocates for abortion rights intend to challenge any remaining bans and restrictions on abortion in Ohio. This includes urging the courts to repeal laws such as the mandatory 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and the ban on abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

House Speaker Jason Stephens declined to comment on the release, according to his spokesperson, Aaron Mulvey. However, Stephens, along with many other legislative Republicans, has vowed to continue to defend against the new amendment, stating, “The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life. This is not the end of the conversation.”

Should the amendment or any other abortion restrictions face legal challenges, it remains uncertain how they might be resolved in the courts. The state Supreme Court, which holds a conservative majority, has the final authority over state constitutional matters.


Samantha Hendrickson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.


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