Protect Women Ohio Sets the Record Straight During Issue 1 Debate, Proponents of Issue 1 Owe Ohioans Answers


“We have to start telling the truth about this. We have to protect parental consent and children. We have to vote NO because our moral compass and our families are at stake today.”

-Mehek Cooke, Protect Women Ohio spokeswoman

COLUMBUS, OH — The Ohio Debate Commission in partnership with Spectrum News hosted an hour-long debate on Issue 1 last week, which is now available to stream online and download. Throughout the debate, the Issue 1 opposition repeatedly called out the deceit and fearmongering coming from the groups supporting Issue 1 and demanded answers to the tough questions, including why Issue 1 allows for late-term abortions and eviscerates parental consent laws. The campaign supporting Issue 1 refused to provide these critical answers that Ohioans deserve ahead of Election Day. Highlights from the debate are available to view here.

Representing the pro-Issue 1 side was Desiree Tims, President and CEO of Innovation Ohio and 2020 Democratic nominee for Ohio’s 10th Congressional District. Representing the opposition to Issue 1 was Mehek Cooke, a Columbus-based attorney, small business owner and spokeswoman for Protect Women Ohio.

Proponents of Issue 1 Refused to Answer the Tough Questions

Throughout the debate, Cooke repeatedly pressed Tims for answers to tough questions that Ohioans need answered, including why Issue 1 allows for late-term abortions, why there are no protections for parents’ rights, and why a proposed amendment supposedly meant to protect “women’s reproductive rights” does not include the word “woman.”

Late-Term Abortions: Tims and the groups supporting Issue 1 have refused to rule out that Issue 1 will permit late-term abortions in Ohio, including after 15 weeks when science proves an unborn child is capable of feeling pain.

What the Groups Supporting Issue 1 Don’t Want Ohioans to Know: Issue 1 allows painful, late-term abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. By giving abortionists the final word in determining when post-viability abortions can be performed on a case-by-case basis, Issue 1 allows for painful, late-term abortions. Issue 1 also contains a major loophole by allowing late-term abortions to protect the “health” of the mother. The United States Supreme Court has interpreted “health” to include not just a mother’s physical health, but also her mental, emotion, social and financial health, essentially permitting late-term abortion for any reason.

According to the research arm of the abortion industry, the Guttmacher Institute, more than 50,000 abortions are performed annually after 15 weeks when an unborn child is capable of feeling pain, and at least 10,000 are performed after 20 weeks.

PWO highlighted the fact that Issue 1 will permit painful, late-term abortions in Ohio in a recent ad featuring Ohio abortionist Martin Haskell. Haskell invented the barbaric partial-birth abortion technique in Ohio, and brags that he “routinely” performs late-term abortions at 20-24 weeks, even admitting 80% of the partial-birth abortions he performs are “purely elective.” Haskell gave $100,000 to the campaign supporting Issue 1 because he knows it is an investment in his late-term abortion practice. 

Parental Consent: The ACLU had every opportunity when drafting Issue 1 to include language protecting parental consent laws. Instead, they chose not to and Tims could not answer why.

What the Groups Supporting Issue 1 Don’t Want Ohioans to Know: Issue 1 will eviscerate parental rights, allowing minors to obtain abortions and life-altering medical procedures without parental consent. As a recent report explains, parental consent laws “could stay in place if the state or anti-abortion attorneys can successfully argue to a court that parental involvement would advance a girl’s health.”

The ACLU, which wrote and is bankrolling Issue 1, has a long and well-documented history of attacking parental rights across the country, including in Michigan, Indiana and Alaska. The ACLU also publicly rallies against parents’ rights on its website, and its coalition partners call for the abolition of parental rights on social media.

A similar amendment is under consideration in Florida and provides the possibility of passing parental consent protections, but this language was left out of Issue 1. Florida’s amendment clearly states: “This amendment does not change the Legislature’s constitutional authority to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.”

Issue 1 does not mention “women:” The groups pushing Issue 1 claim it is a “women’s rights amendment,” yet the word “woman” appears nowhere in the amendment and women’s health and safety protections will be erased under Issue 1. Tims could not answer why this is the case during the debate.

What the Groups Supporting Issue 1 Don’t Want Ohioans to Know: The ACLU intentionally drafted the amendment using the word “individuals,” and excluded age limits. This means the amendment applies to any Ohioan of any age – including minors – putting our children and families at risk. If Issue 1 was really about “women’s rights,” the ACLU would have said so. Instead, they wrote an intentionally broad amendment that puts women at risk. Under Issue 1, commonsense health and safety protections for women will be considered a “burden” and will be wiped out. These protections include ensuring abortion clinics have hospital admitting privileges, ambulatory privileges, are within 30 miles of an emergency room, and screening women for abuse and abortion coercion.

“[This amendment] eviscerates our health and safety standards,” Cooke said during the debate. “Today on the books, if you’re going through some traumatic reason for going through an abortion, you have to be affiliated with an ambulatory facility. We would get rid of that. God forbid there is an emergency. What does that woman do? … When I go see my doctor today because I am seven-and-a-half-months pregnant, they always keep me separate from my spouse and say, ‘Is there domestic abuse at home?’ Guess what? That won’t exist anymore. Why are they so anti-woman? Why are they so anti-protecting what is so sacred today, which is our families and our youth?”


Correcting the Record

Throughout the course of this campaign, including in television ads and on the debate stage, the groups supporting Issue 1 have used fear and deceit and outright lied to Ohioans about standards currently in place to protect women and the unborn across Ohio.

Big Lie #1: Emergency miscarriage care is not available to Ohioans and will only become available should Issue 1 pass.

The Facts: Emergency care for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies is available in Ohio, and Issue 1 is not needed to ensure this care. According to a letter from Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff, “Ohio laws and regulations…do not in any way hinder the provision of ‘emergency care for miscarriages’ … Any woman who is suffering or has suffered a miscarriage can seek appropriate medical care; medical practitioners are expected to provide the highest level of care and nothing in Ohio’s laws or regulations prevents a medical practitioner from providing that care.”

“I can tell you, I gave birth last year to my son and in-between I thought I was having a miscarriage,” Cooke shared during the debate. “I went to Riverside Hospital, they gave me the proper care, and thank God my son was born. But to pedal misinformation? You don’t have to hear it from me. Go ask your doctor: Do I have contraceptive care? Do I have miscarriage care? We have to start telling the truth about this. We have to protect parental consent and children. We have to vote NO because our moral compass and our families are at stake today.”

Big Lie #2: Issue 1 is needed to provide access to contraception in Ohio.

The Facts: The use of contraceptives is legal in Ohio, and Issue 1 is not needed to ensure access. Section 2919.197 of the Ohio Revised Code states: “Nothing in sections 2919.19 to 2919.196 of the Revised Code prohibits the sale, use, prescription, or administration of a drug, devise, or chemical for contraceptive purposes.”

Big Lie #3: Ohio abortion law contains no exceptions for the life of the mother.

The Facts: Ohio abortion law contains an exception to protect the life of the mother. Section 2919.17 of the Ohio Revised Code states an abortion may be performed after 22 weeks if “[t]he abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

Big Lie #4: Ohio is currently operating under the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” which protects an unborn child from abortion once fetal cardiac activity is detected, which typically occurs around 6 weeks.

The Facts: The Heartbeat Bill is not currently in effect in Ohio as it is under a preliminary injunction. Instead, abortion is currently permitted in Ohio up to 22 weeks for any reason and abortion after 22 weeks is permitted to protect the life of the mother and to prevent “the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” 

“The groups supporting Issue 1 know Ohioans won’t go for their radical amendment that guts parental rights and allows for late-term abortion, so they are pedaling lies and fear instead,” Cooke said after the debate. “The groups that claim to champion women sure do have a funny of showing it: deceiving Ohio women and creating a public health crisis by lying about access to contraception, miscarriage care, and exceptions for the life of the mother. These lies would be laughable if they weren’t so dangerous and disgusting.”

A legal analysis of the extreme anti-parent amendment is available HERE from constitutional scholars Carrie Campbell Severino, President of Judicial Crisis Network, and Frank J. Scaturro, a former special counsel to the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.



Protect Women Ohio is a pro-parent, pro-woman, pro-life coalition dedicated to defeating the ACLU’s extreme anti-parent amendment this November. PWO is made up of concerned family and life leaders, parents, health and medical experts, and faith leaders in Ohio.

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