Aug 29, 2023 - News

Abortion rights group sues over ballot language

Illustration of a voting booth with a gavel printed on the side.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Abortion rights advocates filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Ballot Board yesterday, alleging its summary of the proposed state constitutional amendment to guarantee abortion rights contains "politicized, deceptive language" aiming to persuade Ohioans to vote against it.

Why it matters: Ohio voters will read this summary when they vote Nov. 7 — or vote early beginning Oct. 11. It must be finalized before ballots can be created.

Catch up quick: The board's Republican members voted 3-2 on Thursday to approve the summary, drafted by board chair and Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Zoom in: Among the summary's changes is switching the term "fetus" to "unborn child" and removing a list of other reproductive rights the amendment would protect: contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care and continuing pregnancy.

  • It also states the amendment would "always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability" — though the amendment says "abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability."

Of note: The Ohio Constitution requires the Ohio Ballot Board to prescribe ballot language that does not "mislead, deceive, or defraud" voters.

What's next: The lawsuit asks the Republican-majority Ohio Supreme Court to order the board to adopt language that "properly and lawfully describes the amendment."

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