Issue 3 Threatens Abortion Restrictions

For Immediate Release: December 6, 2011
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

ISSUE 3 THREATENS ABORTION RESTRICTIONS
IO Says Anti-Abortion Laws May Be Amendment’s “First Casualty”

Columbus—Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, says that a hearing later today in the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee provides “concrete evidence that the passage of Issue 3 may thwart key parts of the conservative agenda.”

The hearing is on HB 79, which would prohibit non-therapeutic abortion coverage from being included in any health care plan offered through the “insurance exchanges” that Ohio and other states will create under the federal Affordable Care Act. The House has already passed the bill.

The problem for conservatives is not with the ACA, which specifically allows states to prohibit the sale of insurance policies covering abortion if they choose.

The problem is with Issue 3, which was added to the state Constitution in November and stipulates—under Section 21 (B) and (C)—that Ohio may not “prohibit the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.” Both because abortion is a “health care” procedure and because Issue 3 prevents any prohibitions on the “sale or purchase of health insurance”, many legal experts believe HB 79 is unconstitutional. Testimony to that effect is expected at the 4:00pm hearing today.

Said IO President Janetta King:

“It is ironic that Governor Kasich, along with virtually every other ‘pro-life’ office-holder and even the Ohio Right to Life organization itself, endorsed Issue 3 and urged voters to pass it.

“In so doing, they ignored repeated warnings, not just from Innovation Ohio, but also from legal scholars and every major newspaper in the state, that the amendment’s careless and poorly drafted language would open a Pandora’s Box of ‘unintended consequences’ affecting numerous other Ohio laws, rules and regulations.

“On September 1, Innovation Ohio, along with two distinguished law professors from Case Western University, issued a report entitled “Bad Medicine: Unintended Consequences of Issue 3.” On October 26, IO released a second report called ‘Why Conservatives Should Oppose Issue 3.’ Both reports specifically cited anti-abortion legislation as a likely casualty of the proposed amendment.

“Perhaps conservatives are counting on Issue 3’s ‘exceptions’ provisions to save HB 79 and other anti-abortion legislation such as HB 125, the so-called “Heartbeat bill.” If so, they will be disappointed. None of these laws was in effect prior to March 19, 2010. None are designed to ‘deter fraud.’ Trying to re-define abortion as ‘wrongdoing’ would fly in the face of multiple U.S. Supreme Court rulings that the procedure is a protected legal right. And prohibiting the sale of certain kinds of ‘health insurance’ directly contravenes specific language in Section 21.

“And yet, despite multiple warnings, ‘pro-lifers’ from Gov. Kasich on down stubbornly persisted; Ohio Right to Life even reaffirmed its Issue 3 endorsement in response to the IO reports.

“In other words, Gov. Kasich, Ohio Right to Life, and the rest of the state’s ‘pro-life’ community have no one to blame but themselves. It is they who irresponsibly put politics and rank partisanship ahead of prudence and common sense.”

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