Ohio's Constitution Is Far Too Easy To Amend

Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance at Family Research Council. This article appeared on USA Today on July 16, 2023.

The U.S. Constitution, carefully crafted for durability, has allowed our nation to flourish for the past 245 years. In large measure, that’s due to the fact that it’s not easy to amend. One of the weaknesses of Ohio’s constitution, on the other hand, is that currently it is far too easy to amend.

Issue 1 is a ballot initiative that would fortify Ohio’s constitution for years to come by requiring future amendments to receive at least 60% of the popular vote in order to pass, instead of the current threshold of a mere 50%. With little to nothing to protect it from the whims and transient passions that change season to season, Ohio’s constitution has been amended a whopping 172 times, just since 1851.  And although they hypocritically oppose raising the threshold for amending the Ohio constitution for political reasons, the Ohio Democratic Party relies on a 60% threshold to amend its own constitution. 

Even in raising the percentage of votes required to pass amendments from 50% to 60%, Ohio’s constitution would remain far easier to amend than the U.S. Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, plus 75% of state legislatures for ratification. 

If approved on Aug. 8, Issue 1 has the added benefit of thwarting the abortion activists now preying on Ohio. Well-healed, far-left special interest groups including the ACLU are keenly aware of our state constitution’s current vulnerability and intend to exploit it. They have filed signatures with the Secretary of State to place a truly abhorrent constitutional amendment on the Ohio ballot this November. 

The ACLU’s extreme proposal goes far beyond what reasonable-minded Ohioans want. It is so far-reaching that in the Buckeye State, where, ironically, minors must receive written permission to simply obtain an aspirin at school, parental involvement requirements would be abolished when it comes to reproductive decisions pertaining to their child. Cutting parents out of the most important decisions their children make, the amendment forbids any law that 'directly or indirectly' burdens or interferes with any 'individual’s' reproductive decisions. On top of that, it shields from legal consequences any third parties who might 'assist' a child in obtaining, for example an abortion, giving more power to potential abusers than to parents.

The amendment would permit painful late-term abortions right up until the moment of birth in our state. Science shows that at just 15 weeks’ gestation, a child’s heart has beat more than 15 million times and pain receptors begin to develop two months prior to that, when brain structures indicate that the child can process pain from invasive, excruciating procedures like abortion. It’s why unborn children are anesthetized if they must undergo surgery in utero. Amendment drafters, led by the ACLU, are disregarding the immense human suffering that comes with their proposal and committing a tragic human rights abuse by advancing their permissive abortion agenda. 

The amendment’s language is so broad that it would even jeopardize basic health and safety protections for women seeking abortions. Under the amendment, current laws that require a pregnant woman to obtain screening or counseling by a licensed physician who could transfer her to a hospital if something went wrong would be nullified. So much for women’s health.

Fortunately, on Aug. 8, Ohio voters have the opportunity to strengthen our constitution against dangerous attacks like the ACLU’s abortion amendment. It’s up to us to protect and defend our state constitution by raising the threshold for ratification. Otherwise, abortion activists and potentially other ill-intentioned special interest groups will continue to exploit it. Vote 'yes' on Issue 1 in August − Ohio’s future depends on it.