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Ohio Senate GOP floats idea of 15-week abortion ban despite voters saying no


Ohio Senate GOP floats idea of 15-week abortion ban despite voters saying no

Nov 16, 2023 | 5:00 am ET
By Morgan Trau
Ohio Senate GOP floats idea of 15-week abortion ban despite voters saying no
Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, oversees the Senate session on Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

The Ohio Senate president has floated the idea of a 15-week abortion ban following voters decisively choosing to keep lawmakers out of their reproductive care.

The debate over Issue 1 continues at the Statehouse. Some fringe and alt-right Republican House representatives are infuriated with voters — so much so that they are threatening to alter the democratic process in their favor.

Issue 1, the proposal to enshrine abortion access into the state constitution, passed 57-43% on election night. Despite this large victory, Statehouse Republicans have been mulling over ways to combat it.

State Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) is seemingly leading this fight with other far-right representatives Bill Dean (R-Xenia), Melanie Miller (R-Ashland) and Beth Lear (R-Galena). The quartet is described by other Republicans as being on the extreme end of their caucus due to anti-vaccine beliefs, peddling of conspiracy theories, and disapproval of equal protection for the LGBTQ+ community.

Instead of having judges and justices do their job by evaluating abortion issues, the lawmakers want to strip them of their duties due to perceived “mischief by pro-abortion courts,” they said in a news release published on the website for Ohio House Republicans.

But House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) swiftly shut down the threat of punishing judges. About a dozen other Republicans of varying degrees of anti-abortion belief told News 5 that this would never happen, as well.

“This is schoolhouse rock-type stuff,” Stephens said. “We need to make sure that we have the three branches of government, and the constitution is what we abide by.”

While Stephens said the bill is dead on arrival, he initially made a statement on election night that the legislature will do something to “protect innocent life.” He has since backtracked and said the bills wouldn’t be about limiting abortion.

“I think we need to continue our focus on — what are we doing for babies,” the speaker said.

But Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) floated some limits on abortion.

“People mentioned the 15 weeks and the exceptions and things like that,” Huffman said.

He continued that, “clearly there is a majority of people in Ohio that feel that way,” however, there are no statistics to prove this, and based on the language of Issue 1, the voters chose not to have any restrictions before viability.

“Would 15 weeks be going against the will of the people?” asked Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau.

“I don’t know… I think it’s a discussion that is in the future,” the president responded.

He has originally made a statement after the elections results saying that he would be the result wasn’t “the end” and there would be a “revolving door” of repeal efforts. He told to Trau that this wouldn’t be something on the upcoming ballot in March.

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) thinks Huffman and other Republicans are out of touch.

“I think what you’re hearing right now is that the gravity is sort of sinking in that the people are watching, the people are paying attention, and the people voted on Issue 1,” Antonio said.

Republicans could go against the well of the people, she added.

“They have told us time and time again — a total ban,” she said. “I do not trust compromise — I trust the people. And what the people just said is this is what we want.”

House Minority Leader Allison Russo echoed these statements, saying people don’t want a 15-week ban.

Stephens said that the court will decide on abortion laws — so he isn’t in support of taking away judicial jurisdiction, putting a repeal on the ballot right now or making more restrictive regulations.

“Whether it’s the moms, the babies, everybody — these families are extremely important, and yelling doesn’t accomplish that goal,” Stephens said.


This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.