FIRST ON FOX: As Ohio voters prepare to decide on sweeping changes to the state’s abortion laws, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has uncharacteristically jumped into the debate with both feet.
DeWine explained to Fox News Digital in an interview this week why a November vote to enshrine abortion access into the state’s constitution motivated him to run his first-ever ad addressing a state ballot measure and why he believes the proposal isn’t consistent with what most Ohio voters want.
“Fran and I have never done an ad before for a statewide issue or even a local issue but we both feel very strongly about this and I think whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life the constitutional amendment that we will be voting on in a couple of weeks just goes way, way too far,” DeWine told Fox News Digital at the governor’s mansion in Columbus, Ohio following an ad he ran with Ohio’s First Lady urging his constituents to vote “No” on Issue 1, a November constitutional amendment on abortion.
“It would allow abortion at any point in the pregnancy,” DeWine said. “It would negate Ohio’s law that we’ve had on the books for many, many years that prohibits partial birth abortion.”
The future of partial birth and late-term abortion in Ohio has become a prominent topic among opponents of Issue 1, including Protect Women Ohio who has pointed to a $100,000 contribution from Dr. Martin Haskell, a Dayton area doctor whom they describe as “the inventor of the partial-birth abortion procedure,” made in support of the constitutional amendment.
“It also really strikes at parents rights and the relationship between a parent and in this case, a daughter,” DeWine said.
“We have a law that says that you have to have parental consent in regard to a minor getting an abortion that would be knocked out by this constitutional amendment as well. So it would put Ohio in a small category of the most permissive states in the union in regard to abortion. I just don’t think it fits Ohio. It’s not who we are. It’s not where we are.”
DeWine told Fox News Digital that the groups supporting a “Yes” vote on Issue 1 have run deceptive ads about what the amendment would do.
“I think that the people who are doing these ads that are for issue one are misleading people,” DeWine said.
One ad talked about the amendment guaranteeing help in regard to miscarriages, said DeWine, but that’s not an issue. “Medical assistance is out there. I mean, we have hospitals. They do what they do, doctors. So they’re wrapping this into things that are certainly already well taken care of by the medical community and our hospitals and our doctors. So just, you know, I think it’s a very misleading campaign that they’re running.“
DeWine said he doesn’t believe Ohio has ever overturned a constitutional amendment that was approved by the people, which means that if this amendment passes it is likely to be permanent. DeWine explained that even under Roe v. Wade, Ohio was permitted to implement some restrictions on abortion and that this amendment would go even further and invalidate those measures.
Even Roe, and another abortion precedent-setting Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “allowed Ohio and other states to put some guardrails around abortion,” DeWine said. “Parental notification was one. Another law that we have in regard to someone with a disability, a child with a disability. You could not have an abortion specifically for the reason that that child was Down’s syndrome. You know, these are guardrails… would just go away because this is a constitutional amendment.”
Many political pundits have concluded that abortion, and the reversal of Roe v. Wade, was an issue that hurt Republicans in last year’s midterm elections preventing them from achieving a “Red Wave” result that gave them commanding control in Congress.
However, every governor in the United States that signed abortion restrictions into law won re-election last November in states that included Iowa, Idaho, Florida, South Dakota, Tennessee, South Carolina, Wyoming, Georgia, and in even Ohio.
DeWine signed a heartbeat law prohibiting abortions after 6 weeks and won a landslide re-election victory by 25 points.
When asked by Fox News Digital how DeWine was able to effectively communicate the abortion issue, he said he has “tried to focus on the science.”
“Even if you have people who pro-choice and think that abortion should be allowed at some point up until a certain point, I don’t know anybody who thinks that abortion should be permitted all the way up until birth,” DeWine said. “I mean that just strikes most people as going too far… I think part of my job is to try, and Fran and I, my wife and I were trying to do with this ad, is just to let people know exactly how radical this constitutional amendment is.”
DeWine said that most voters he has interacted with don’t want to talk about abortion because it is an “unpleasant subject” which is why he filmed the ad from his kitchen to speak directly to Ohio voters and let them know that wherever they stand on the abortion issue, this measure is too “radical” to enshrine in the state constitution.
When asked what he would tell an Ohioan who is undecided on how to vote on Issue 1, the governor said that voters “don’t have to take my word for it” but need only to “look at the language of the constitutional amendment and look at how the courts have defined things in the past.”
Ohio’s Republican Attorney General Dave Yost put together a comprehensive analysis of what voting “Yes” on Issue one and approving the amendment would mean for abortions in the state and wrote that the language of the amendment “creates a new, legal standard that goes beyond what Roe and Casey said.”
“The Amendment would not return things to how they were before Dobbs overruled Roe, and is not just ‘restoring Roe,’” Yost said. “It goes further.”
Yost wrote that several abortion restrictions in the state would be invalidated if the new amendment passes including the Heartbeat Act, the Down Syndrome discrimination law, and the law prohibiting partial birth abortion.
Additionally, Yost concludes that several other aspects related to abortion might not immediately be invalidated but will face serious legal challenges with an “uncertain outcome” in courts due to the language of the bill. Those issues include 24-hour waiting period and informed consent, Ohio law that requires a doctor to inform a minor’s parents before performing an abortion on a pregnant minor, abortion pill safety regulations, limits against taxpayer funds for abortion providers.
Supporters of Issue 1, including Ohio Citizen Action, have made the argument that voters “are faced with a critical choice to stand up for our personal autonomy” and that “personal decisions should be made by individuals and their families, free from intrusive government oversight.”
“It’s pretty clear that this constitutional amendment just goes farther, much further than what the average Ohioan approves,” DeWine told Fox News Digital
“If a voter is comfortable with abortion up until the time of birth, they’re probably going to be okay with this amendment — if they’re comfortable with parents not being involved in the most important decision their daughter will ever make or certainly has made up until that point in her life. If they’re okay with that, then they should vote for this,” DeWine added.
“If you think that parents need to be involved and your daughter or anybody’s daughter needs parents to be involved, and you think that abortion should not be permitted all the way up until the time of birth, then this constitutional amendment is not right and people should vote against it.“
Fox News Digital’s Aubrie Spady contributed to this report
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