Gibson: On Aug. 8, your freedom is at stake

You may have heard that Ohio has an issue on the ballot on Aug. 8.

Special elections are unusual and expensive. Perhaps that is why the Republican supermajority in Ohio enacted a law in January to ban state-wide elections in August.

But wait. The same Ohio Republican supermajority did a “180” just four months later in May. Why? So that they could put an issue on the ballot themselves. They then went on to include 16 million dollars in the new state budget to fund it. Maybe saving taxpayer money isn’t so important after all.

If you research Issue 1, you don’t have to dig too deep to learn its purpose. It’s pretty obvious that Issue One has one sole purpose. It’s to lay a stumbling block in November, when Ohioans will be asked to vote on an amendment to the Ohio Constitution — one that the Republican supermajority abhors.

Just recently, 400,000 Ohio signatures on petitions to amend the Ohio Constitution were accepted as valid by the State of Ohio. These petitions were part of a grassroots, citizen-initiated, non-partisan process to give women in Ohio the freedom to make their own reproductive choices.

The rule as of now is 50% plus one vote. Issue 1, if passed in August, changes that to 60%.

Ohio law has allowed citizen-initiated petitions to amend the Ohio Constitution by a simple majority of 50% plus 1 since 1912. Is it really right to change the rules in the middle of the game? Some will say that’s politics. Or, in this case, the “ends justify the means.”

In case you don’t know, Ohio currently has an extreme abortion ban in effect. “Extreme” includes the fact that doctors can be sent to jail for doing what they think is best for the health of their patients. Further, there’s no exception for rape or incest.

So, this election really is all about abortion in Ohio, contrary to what Secretary of State Frank LaRose has said.

Since national polls indicate a majority of Americans favor legalizing reproductive choice, the fear that it could happen in Ohio becomes real to this Republican supermajority, which sees banning abortion as their calling.

Some might think their strategy seems pretty smart. But, consider this: if yes prevails, Ohio citizens wanting to change the Ohio Constitution for any reason will have an almost insurmountable hill to climb with 60% required for passage. In effect, a 40% minority can block any future constitutional amendments from passing.

This August issue, if passed, will take away a time-honored freedom from Ohio citizens: the will of the simple majority, one of our country’s most treasured democratic principles. You might wonder how dictatorships get their power. It is exactly like that.

You might say that if a yes vote means abortion bans in Ohio stay in place, you’re “all for it” no matter the consequences. Well-meaning people think their religious beliefs demand they oppose it. Having strong personal beliefs is commendable, but, in our country, it’s important to remember that not everyone has the same personal beliefs.

Even if we were a Christian nation, which we are not, Jesus never said a word about it. The Jewish faith does not prohibit it. Other religions have varying positions. But the point is, the U.S. Constitution includes the separation of church and state in the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Changing how the Ohio Constitution is amended for the sake of one religious viewpoint does overriding harm to the freedom of the people in Ohio. It is an overreaction that will have negative consequences in terms of how our state government functions in the future.

Issue 1 is opposed by hundreds of groups. The Ohio League of Women Voters is one. Find a list by doing your own internet search using the words “Vote No in August.”

Carol (Ward-Williamson) Gibson is a retired library media specialist, educator, and political activist who lives near Elida. Her views do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.