Ohio voters will decide next month on a proposed constitutional amendment regarding abortion that, if passed, could effectively legalize abortion at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason in the state. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has issued a legal analysis stating that the amendment would grant greater protections to abortion rights than even the Supreme Court’s overturned Roe v. Wade ruling.
According to Yost’s analysis, the proposed amendment would limit the state from “directly or indirectly” burdening or discriminating against pregnant individuals or regulating abortion for reasons other than advancing the pregnant individual’s health. This would effectively nullify existing laws that regulate abortion based on the state’s interest in fetal life. The amendment would also require the state to prove it adheres to “widely accepted and evidence-based standards of care” rather than its own medical judgment.
Yost predicts that the passage of the amendment would likely lead to the demise of Ohio’s current restrictions on abortion, including pre-viability limits, bans on abortion after 20 weeks and post-viability, bans on discriminatory abortions (based on the unborn child’s sex or disability), and requirements for waiting periods and informed consent.
Additionally, Yost stated that the amendment’s language, which uses the term “individual” rather than “woman,” could potentially grant minors the right to abortion without parental consent, although he couldn’t say with certainty whether it would apply to gender transition procedures without parental involvement.
The proposed amendment also leaves the definition of “health” open, which, according to Yost, would grant doctors the discretion to determine whether post-viability abortions can occur based on their professional judgment, without requiring a second opinion or objective criteria.
Yost emphasized that the legal analysis was issued to ensure a factual and meaningful public discourse on the issue and did not render a judgment on the policy itself.
The amendment will be on the ballot for Ohio voters in the upcoming election.