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Lawsuit asks Ohio Supreme Court to toss reproductive rights amendment off November ballot

Gavel outside Ohio Supreme Court
Dan Konik

A lawsuitasks the Ohio Supreme Court to block the proposed reproductive and abortion rights amendment that’s been certified to appear on the ballot in November.

The lawsuit, filed by Cincinnati attorney Curt Hartman on behalf of two Republicans on Friday, asks the court to bar the amendment from the ballot because it doesn’t specifically list state laws that would be changed if it is passed. The lawsuit claims those laws include the six-week abortion ban that took effect briefly last summer before litigation put it on hold, along with the ban on abortion after a diagnosis of Down syndrome and the law requiring parental consent for abortions for minors.

The amendment was certified for the ballot last week after backers gathered 495,938 valid signatures from 55 counties. They needed around 414,000 from 44 counties.

Gabriel Mann, spokesman for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, said his group is confident it has met all of the ballot requirements and believes this lawsuit should be tossed.

“Anti choice extremists know they can’t win at the ballot box so they have resorted to dirty tricks to try to silence the voice of Ohioans," Mann said.

Mann added: “We expected a desperate challenge like this one but we are confident we have met every requirement to be on the ballot as the secretary of state has already certified.”

A spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Rob Nichols, said he couldn't comment on pending litigation. Both attorneys for the state and the group behind the amendment itself have asked the Ohio Supreme Court to expedite the case.

The Ohio Supreme Court is dominated by Republicans who have said on the record that they oppose abortion. Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy and Justices Pat DeWine and Pat Fischer responded to questionnaires from a Cincinnati right-to-life group before last fall’s election that they believe life begins at conception.

This isn't the first time Hartman has filed a lawsuit with the state's highest court on behalf of abortion opponents. In March, Hartman filed suit against the Ohio Ballot Board over the petition language it approved. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected that argument.

The amendment would need a simple majority of voters to approve it in November for it to take effect. But if Issue 1 passes on the Aug. 8 ballot, it would take 60% voter approval for it to pass.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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