Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights (OURR) filed a lawsuit on Monday after the Ohio Ballot Board approved final language for an abortion amendment, which changed the word “fetus” to “unborn child,” according to court documents.
The board voted 3-2 on Aug. 24 to approve the final language for the amendment that changed it from “abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability” to the state must “always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability” to protect the health of the mother. OURR filed the lawsuit against the board members, including Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a vocal opponent of the proposed amendment, arguing that the members had ignored rules that require language to “not ‘mislead, deceive, or defraud’ voters,” according to court documents. (RELATED: Dems Seethe After Ballot Board Amendment Language Changing ‘Fetus’ To ”Unborn Child’)
“The language the Ballot Board adopted at its August 24, 2023, meeting flouts those requirements and aims improperly to mislead Ohioans and persuade them to oppose the Amendment,” the lawsuit reads. “Accordingly, Relators request that the Court issue a writ of mandamus directing the Ballot Board to reconvene and adopt the full text of the Amendment as the ballot language. That remedy is appropriate because the Ballot Board’s prescribed language is irreparably flawed.”
Democratic board members criticized the final language, with state Rep. Elliot Forhan arguing that “the buck stops with the secretary of state,” despite LaRose’s claims that it was a board decision. Ohioans voted down a GOP proposal to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments by increasing the threshold to 60% instead of a simple majority.
Lauren Blauvelt, the OURR spokesperson, said in an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio press release that the original language was already “clearly written.”
“Issue 1 was clearly written to protect Ohioans’ right to make our own personal health care decisions about contraception, pregnancy, and abortion, free from government interference,” Blauvelt said. “The summary that was adopted by the Ballot Board is intentionally misleading and fails to meet the standards required by Ohio law.”
Ohio voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the legislation in November when the amendment is placed on the ballot.
A spokesperson from LaRose’s office told the Daily Caller News Foundation that they will not comment on pending litigation.
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