State Issue 1

State Issue 1 will establish in the Ohio Constitution that “[e]very individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.”  This principle should be non-controversial.  That a woman’s right to decide whether and when she will give birth is a basic human right should be beyond all debate.

It should not be surprising, and is illogical, that Ohio conservatives oppose Issue 1. We have seen conservatives react very strongly against government involvement in individuals’ health care decision making to the point of opposing things like mask mandates and vaccination requirements necessary to prevent the spread of deadly diseases.

Issue 1 very clearly furthers the purported conservative desire to defend individual liberty against government “do-gooding.”  Some characterize Issue 1 as “extreme” and going beyond the protection of reproductive freedom previously afforded by Roe v. Wade.  No less a conservative than Barry Goldwater declared in 1964 that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”  Calling Issue 1 “extreme” should not put conservatives off this defense of individual liberty.

We are told that Issue 1 is wrong because it will permit the “killing of unborn children.” Issue 1 states that “abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability,” and defines “fetal viability” as the point at which “the fetus has a significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures.”

Whether or not you think that tissue which cannot survive except as a part of a mother is “an unborn child,” it is not consistent with conservative values to give that tissue rights which override the rights of the living mother.

Even making the leap that a non-viable fetus is “an unborn child,” conservatives should still support Issue 1. The appropriate analogy is, of course, guns. Guns are now the most common cause of death of children in the United States, having surpassed motor vehicle accidents in 2020. However, conservatives consistently oppose any regulation of guns, arguing that the Second Amendment (minus some of its actual language) is absolute. Gun deaths, even among children, are simply the “price of liberty.”

If individual liberty outweighs the lives of people who have already been born, a woman’s liberty to make her own decisions about reproduction without government intrusion should outweigh the interests of tissue which cannot survive on its own.

We are also told that Issue 1 will override parents’ rights to give or withhold consent for their minor children to obtain abortions. This is simply false. No less a conservative authority than Ohio Attorney General David Yost, in his official analysis of Issue 1 has said that it “does not specifically address parental consent.” Ohio law has, from statehood, recognized that minors lack full decision-making capacity. You cannot reasonably twist the language of Issue 1 so it overturns this long-standing principle of Ohio law.

Ohio statutory law explicitly recognizes that “parents have the responsibility to make decisions . . . for the care . . . of their children.” Ohio Revised Code Section 3109.401(A)(2). Moreover, Ohio’s parental consent law, Revised Code Section 2919.121, is not absolute. The General Assembly has already recognized that there are circumstances in which a minor should have the option of an abortion regardless of parental consent. The claim that Issue 1 would change any of this is deceptive.

Issue 1 is an effort to enshrine in the Ohio Constitution the conservative principle that liberty means individuals get to make their own decisions about their lives instead of the government making those decisions. Issue 1 is an issue on which conservative and liberal values coincide. Liberals and conservatives in Ohio should both vote Yes on Issue 1.

 State Issue 2

State Issue 2 proposes a new state statute which, in simple terms, would provide that an individual’s recreational use and possession of marijuana is not a crime under Ohio law. Neither the Ohio Democratic Party nor the Clermont County Democratic Party has taken a position for or against State Issue 2. I am not endorsing State Issue 2. I am not a marijuana user. Whether recreational use of marijuana is legal or illegal in Ohio has no impact on me. However, passing Issue 2 may give us an opportunity to see how Ohio government really works. That is, for me, sufficient reason to vote for Issue 2.

Issue 2 is not a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution. If Issue 2 passes, it will simply create a new Ohio statute.  Statutes, even those approved by a majority of Ohio voters, may be repealed or amended by the General Assembly.  Leaders of the Republican super majority in the Ohio General Assembly have said that, if Ohio voters approve Issue 2 in November, the General Assembly will repeal it in December. Thus, passing Issue 2 may let us see how much the Republicans in Columbus really believe in democracy. I think I know, but more evidence may convince others.

Stay safe.