How An Amendment Backed By Anti-Abortion Groups Could Help Save Abortion Rights In Ohio

by | Aug 3, 2022 | Politics

After the Supreme Court overturned the 49-year-old right to an abortion in June, 20 states banned abortion almost entirely. The fight over abortion rights now moves from federal to state courts, on completely different legal grounds. Ohio is a key example in how abortion rights supporters are now relying on legal arguments that are significantly different from what they used at the federal level. They recently filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s near-total ban on abortion citing multiple state constitutional clauses, including a provision once pushed by conservatives.AdvertisementThe Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment passed in 2011 with the support of conservative groups including the anti-abortion Ohio Right to Life, with the aim of preventing the newly enacted Affordable Care Act from forcing anyone in the state to purchase health insurance.“It’s very ironic that it’s being considered in this context,” Steven Steinglass, dean emeritus at Cleveland-Marshall Law School and an expert on the Ohio Constitution, said.Ohio’s health care freedom amendment was part of the conservative reaction to the enactment of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement.The 2010 health care reform law expanded health insurance coverage by expanding Medicaid, setting up health insurance exchanges to be run by either the federal government or individual states, provided subsidies to people making a certain amount of money to purchase insurance through the exchanges and mandated people whose employers did not provide health insurance to purchase health insurance or pay a fine.Advertisement Protesters in Dayton, Ohio, ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.Photo by Whitney Saleski/SOPA Images via Getty ImagesConservative activists sought to counter the law with “health care freedom” legislation in a bid to invalidate or complicate both the law’s exchanges and individual mandate.The American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit group linking conservative state legislators with corporate lobbyists and right-wing activists to jointly write model legislation, proposed “health care freedom” laws as Democrats began holding health care reform hearings in anticipation of winning the 2008 election.ALEC’s Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act sought to make it illegal for federal and state governments to require anyone to purchase insurance or participate in a particular health care system, like the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.Ohio’s amendment took from the ALEC model bill with provisions prohibiting any “federal, state, or local law or rule” to require “any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in a health care system” or to “impose a penalty or fine for the sale or purchase of health care or health insurance.” The amendment also states, “No federal, s …

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