AG Yost Files Reply to WRIT of MANDAMUS

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost
files answer to

March 30, 2023

Today Attorney General Dave Yost filed an answer on behalf of the Ballot Board. Attorney General Yost and his office are statutorily obligated to represent the State of Ohio including the Ohio Ballot Board. It was anticipated, as legal representative for the State of Ohio, Attorney General Yost would support the position of the State Ballot Board. 

The fact remains, on multiple occasions, courts have recognized abortion as singularly unique from any other healthcare procedure as it balances interests of mother and an unborn child. The abortion procedure is distinct from procedures such as miscarriage after-care or fertility treatments. The proposed The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety amendment violates Ohio’s single subject provision regarding a constitutional amendment by initiative. 

We are cautiously optimistic the Ohio Supreme Court will recognize the clear distinction between the abortion procedure and other female medical treatments, by ruling the proposed The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety amendment violates Ohio’s single subject provision.

Cincinnati Right to Life’s Executive Director Laura Strietmann shares, “Cincinnati Right to Life has existed for fifty years, leading pro-life grassroots work, creating pro-life legislation, and supporting political candidates that would act pro-life, not just say they are pro-life. To the lay person’s eye, this ballot initiative clearly contains more than one issue. We count on our lawmakers to apply the law of Ohio to protect the most vulnerable and not permit the for-profit abortion businesses to “ballot-hide” other dangerous issues, all in an effort to keep dismembering infant Ohio children in the womb for the sake of getting rich.”

Here is a brief summary of what the original filing means and why this legal action is necessary:

Ohio has specific guidelines and laws that govern the process when a citizens’ group decides they want to place an initiative on the ballot. According to Ohio Revised Code 3519.01 (A) Only one proposal of law or constitutional amendment to be proposed by initiative petition shall be contained in an initiative petition to enable the voters to vote on that proposal separately. A petition shall include the text of any existing statute or constitutional provision that would be amended or repealed if the proposed law or constitutional amendment is adopted.

The wording is first presented to the Attorney General through a preliminary initiative petition containing 1,000 signatures in support of the proposed constitutional amendment and a summary of its provision. At this stage the Attorney General simply determines whether the summary is a “fair and truthful statement” of the proposal.  On March 2, 2023, Attorney General Yost made this certification. The next step in the process was consideration of the proposal by the Ohio Ballot Board.

On March 13, 2023, a hearing was held by the Ohio Ballot Board in Columbus, Ohio. The legal duty of the Secretary of State and Ohio Ballot Board was to determine whether the proposed amendment contained only one proposed amendment. Unfortunately, there was no discussion or debate whatsoever at this meeting about whether or not the proposed amendment under Ohio law contained more than one amendment.   

Therefore, today’s filing asks the Ohio Supreme Court to review the decision the Ohio Ballot Board issued and contends that the Ohio Ballot Board abused their discretion and disregarded the law in its failure to recognized that that there is more than one proposed amendment contained within “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety”.  Today’s filing relies upon case law from Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey which even recognized that abortion is “inherently different” and a “unique act” and, thus, the proposed ballot initiative does, in fact, contain more than one proposed amendment. The filing asks the Ohio Supreme Court to compel the Ohio Ballot Board to:

  • Vacate their decision and determination of March 13, 2023 which cleared the final legal hurdle for “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” to move forward as only one proposed constitutional amendment. This has allowed them to begin gathering the needed 413,000 signatures from across Ohio which is required to get this radical right to abortion on the general election ballot in November 2023.
  • Issue a determination that the petition named “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” does, in fact, contain more than one proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution
  • Divide the abortion petition into individual petitions, each containing only one proposed constitutional amendment (as mandated by Ohio law which provides the guidelines under which the Ohio Ballot Board should have functioned); and
  • Certify the approval of each of the individual petitions containing only one proposed constitutional amendment to the Attorney General

In layman’s terms, this is asking the Supreme Court of Ohio to review and establish that there was legal error in the final decision from the Ohio Ballot Board when it cleared the abortion ballot initiative to begin the process of collecting 413,000 signatures by July 5, 2023, so that it could be placed on the November 2023 ballot.

The entire Verified Complaint for the WRIT OF MANDAMUS can be read Here. Cincinnati Right to Life has sounded the alarm for some time now that Ohio is the top new target of the abortion industry. Their efforts are not only to codify abortion through all nine months, but to remove all parental rights over all medical decisions of a minor, and will perpetuate men sexually exploiting women in Ohio.

The abortion industry in Ohio has the backing of abortion money nationwide and an aggressive lobbying presence in the state house. This Mandamus action establishes that Ohio law must be followed and that no special interest can mislead Ohio voters when trying to place such a drastically radical initiative on the ballot.