Four Ohio Republican state lawmakers are seeking to strip judges of their power to interpret an abortion rights amendment after voters opted to enshrine those rights in the state’s constitution this week.
Republican state house representatives Jennifer Gross, Bill Dean, Melanie Miller and Beth Lear said in a news release on Thursday that they will push to have Ohio’s legislature – not the courts – make any decisions about the amendment passed on Tuesday.
“To prevent mischief by pro-abortion courts with [the amendment], Ohio legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative,” said the mix of fairly new and veteran lawmakers who are all vice-chairs of various house committees. “The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides.”
The statement also contained unsubstantiated references to “foreign election interference” by billionaires before voters enshrined abortion rights in Ohio’s constitution.
It’s the latest development in the struggle over abortion rights between Ohio’s Republican-dominated legislature and the majority of the voters, who passed the amendment by a margin of 57% to 43%.
Abortion rights advocates plan to ask the courts to repeal any remaining abortion bans and restrictions on the books in Ohio, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before abortion seekers can have the procedure and a ban on abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
The house speaker, Jason Stephens, declined to comment on the release, according to his spokesperson, Aaron Mulvey. However, Stephens was among the dozens of legislative Republicans who have vowed to fight back against the new amendment.
“The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life. This is not the end of the conversation,” Stephens previously said in a news release.
If the amendment or any other abortion restrictions were to end up being challenged in the courts, it’s unclear how they would fare. The state supreme court has a conservative majority and has the final say over state constitutional issues.
Guardian staff contributed reporting
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/nov/11/ohio-republicans-move-to-exclude-judges-interpreting-abortion-rights-law Ohio Republicans move to exclude judges from interpreting enshrined abortion rights | Ohio