Lawsuit seeks to remove proposed abortion amendment from November ballot

A new lawsuit filed is challenging if the proposed amendment ensuring access to abortion that was certified last week meets state requirements to go before Ohio voters in November.

The proposed amendment fails to comply with all requirements of the law, opponents to amendment say, specifically referencing a requirement that initiative petitions like this one make reference to existing laws that would need to be amended or repealed if the constitutional amendment is adopted.

“The lawsuit simply calls out the petitioners for their failure to comply with all legal standards relating to their initiative petition,” said attorney Curt Hartman, who filed the complaint on behalf of former state Rep. Thomas E. Brinkman, Jr. and ex-legislative candidate Jennifer Giroux, both Republicans from Cincinnati.

The complaint makes reference to laws they believe will be impacted by this proposed amendment, including the Heartbeat Law, but also the parental consent requirement for minors to obtain abortions and the law prohibiting abortions on the basis of Down Syndrome.

“While the law requires any petition proposing a constitutional amendment also identify all existing laws that will be repealed as a result, the petitioners failed to include that information,” Hartman said. “Thus, they have conveniently hid from the general public the widespread and radical impact their proposed amendment will have on existing laws, including those dealing with parental rights.”

The lawsuit is a “desperate attempt” to prevent Ohioans from voting on this proposed amendment, says Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the umbrella organization leading the effort behind the amendment.

“Anti-choice extremists know they can’t win at the ballot box, so they have filed a lawsuit in a desperate attempt to silence the clear majority of Ohioans who support reproductive freedom,” said Lauren Blauvelt, spokeswoman for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights.

Last week, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose certified the petitioners met the requirements to have the citizen-led initiative placed on the Nov. 7 election ballot. Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights collected more than 700,000 signatures, and of those, LaRose certified the petitioners submitted 495,938 total valid signatures on behalf of the proposed statewide initiative.

Signatures from 55 counties also met or exceeded the 5% needed, according to LaRose’s office. Petitioners needed valid signatures from 5% of voters who participated in the last governor’s race in at least 44 counties.

“We have met every requirement to be on the ballot as the Secretary of State has already certified. Once the Court reviews all the relevant facts, we expect this challenge to be rejected,” Blauvelt said.

The requirement referenced in this latest lawsuit falls under the same part of the Ohio revised code as the previous challenge to this proposed amendment before the Ohio Supreme Court earlier this year. The language of the proposed amendment, which had been approved by the Ohio Ballot Board, contained multiple proposals of law and not just one, the complaint in that case said.

Hartman was also the the attorney in that case, filing that previous lawsuit on behalf of anti-abortion activists from Cincinnati Right to Life, Margaret DeBlase and John Giroux. The Ohio Supreme Court in June ruled 7-0 in that case to uphold the Ohio Ballot Board’s unanimous decision that the proposed amendment can move forward as a single initiative.

The latest challenge will have expedited filing deadlines in order to allow for the court to issue its decision 85 days before the November election, per state requirements.

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