COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Four Republican Ohio state lawmakers are seeking to strip judges of their power to interpret an abortion rights amendment after voters chose to enshrine those rights in the state constitution this week.
Republican state Reps. Jennifer Gross, Bill Dean, Melanie Miller and Beth Lear said in a news release Thursday that they will push for the Legislature, not the courts, to make decisions regarding the adopted amendment Tuesday.
“To avoid pro-abortion court mischief with Question 1, Ohio lawmakers will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative,” said the mix of relatively new and veteran lawmakers who are all vice chairs of various House committees. “The Ohio Legislature will consider on its own what changes, if any, to existing laws, based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides.”
It’s the latest development in the fight for abortion rights between the Republican-led Legislature and the majority of voters, who passed the amendment by a margin of 57% to 43%.
Abortion rights advocates plan to ask courts to strike down all abortion bans and restrictions still in place in Ohio, including a mandatory 24-hour period during which abortion seekers must wait before being able to undergo the procedure and a ban on abortion after a fetal diagnosis of Down Syndrome.
House Speaker Jason Stephens declined to comment on the post, according to his spokesman, Aaron Mulvey. However, Stephens was among dozens of legislative Republicans who vowed to fight back against the new amendment.
“The legislature has several avenues that we will explore to continue to protect the lives of innocent people. This is not the end of the conversation,” Stephens said in a press release.
If the amendment or any other abortion restrictions end up being challenged in court, it’s unclear how they would fare. The state Supreme Court has a conservative majority and has the final say on state constitutional issues.
Samantha Hendrickson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-reported issues.