Statements on Issue 1 from Megan M. Wold, Ohio Legal Expert, former Supreme Court clerk, and former Deputy Solicitor General in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office:

On the Issue 1 Proposal:

“The initiative’s language is extremely broad. It requires abortion to be available for any reason before viability and although it allows a post-viability ban, it requires an exception for “health” that courts have interpreted to be very broad – including “emotional” and “familial” health. That amounts to a requirement for abortion on demand, even after viability. The list of protected reproductive rights is only illustrative, not a limit, so the language will protect other choices related to reproduction, including transgender treatment. The intent to capture cross-gender treatments is apparent in the use of “pregnant person” throughout the statute rather than “woman.” And all of the protected rights are likely to be applied to kids, too, because the language is not limited to adults. That would make it impossible to require parental consent for abortions or transgender hormones and surgeries. The initiative also includes the right to “carry out” reproductive choices, which can be used to compel medical professionals to offer care they object to, including when they object for reasons of conscience.”

On the Proposal’s Viability Standard:

“The initiative’s broad language would impose no-limits abortion on Ohio. The initiative demands a capacious exception for post-viability abortions: in no case may abortion be prohibited (even where a baby is viable) if a physician determines that an abortion is necessary to protect a “pregnant patient’s” life or health. As a legal matter, that phrasing is extremely broad – so broad, that it amounts to permitting abortion on demand even if there is a post-viability ban in place. A court would likely decide that the word “health” should mean what it meant under the Supreme Court’s Roe precedents, which includes Doe v. Bolton’s requirement that “health” include a woman’s “emotional” and “familial” health. Whether a woman’s “emotional” and “familial” health is at risk is to be determined in the physician’s judgment, which also puts these decisions outside the reach of any post-viability ban. In other words, the legal effect of the initiative’s language would be to require abortion on-demand until birth.” 


Megan M. Wold graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University and summa cum laude from Notre Dame School of Law. She clerked for Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and Justice Samuel Alito of the United States Supreme Court. She previously served as a Simon Karas Fellow and Deputy Solicitor General in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.