Lawsuit says Ohio Ballot Board should vacate decision on abortion access ballot initiative

A new lawsuit filed with the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday is seeking to have a decision from the Ohio Ballot Board vacated regarding a citizen-led ballot initiative that would ensure access to abortion.

Last week, the Ohio Ballot Board gave the approval needed for groups in favor of access to abortion to start collecting signatures for an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would ensure that access. The Ohio Ballot Board met March 13 to determine whether the proposed constitutional amendment contained only one proposed amendment, and the board ruled it was a single-issue amendment.

Monday’s lawsuit comes from relators Margaret DeBlase and John Giroux, who are from Cincinnati Right to Life and being represented by the law firm of Curt C. Hartman. A relator is a person who brings a lawsuit on behalf of another party, such as on behalf of the government. In this case, the relators are resident electors who say they have a standing to bring mandamus actions to enforce public duties in election matters.

DeBlase and Giroux are seeking to obtain the issuance of a writ of mandamus, which is a judicial writ issued as a command, to have the Ohio Supreme Court compel the Ohio Ballot Board to vacate their decision that only one amendment was proposed.

Additionally, the relators are seeking to have the court make the Ohio Ballot Board issue a determination that the petition for the proposed amendment contains more than one proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution and divide the foregoing initiative petition into individual petitions.

“Dayton Right to Life, along with our friends at Cincinnati Right to Life want to hear from Ohio’s Supreme Court on this issue. The future of women’s health and the safety of our children are at the heart of this amendment and Ohio needs to do all we can to protect them,” said Margie Christie, executive director of Dayton Right to Life.

Cincinnati Right to Life declined further comment.

For other groups, the lawsuit has “no merit,” said Freda Levenson, ACLU of Ohio legal director.

“The Ohio Ballot Board determined — unanimously — that our amendment deals with one single-subject,” said Levenson, who is also a spokesperson for Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom. “It was an easy and obvious call to make, even for an ideologically diverse board. Our proposal is strong and Ohioans support it. Anti-abortion groups and politicians are desperate to stop this popular initiative by any means, and we will not let that happen.”

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