Ohio Supreme Court appointee in abortion law case tied to anti-choice pregnancy center

By: - March 13, 2023 5:00 am

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The judge chosen to take over for an Ohio Supreme Court justice who recused himself from the state’s abortion law case served on an advisory board for a crisis pregnancy center, and is open about his conservative and religious values in personal social media accounts.

Judge Matthew Byrne sits in on the Ohio Supreme Court in a recent case.
Photo courtesy of the Ohio Supreme Court.

Judge Matthew Byrne, of the 12th District Court of Appeals, was appointed in the place of Justice Joe Deters. Deters recused himself from the case regarding the state’s six-week abortion law, currently on hold indefinitely, because he’s listed as a party in the lawsuit.

The supreme court justice was Hamilton County’s prosecuting attorney before being named to the state’s highest court.

Byrne has been with the court of appeals since 2021, when he was elected on a campaign in which he called himself a “constitutional originalist” and was an avid attendee in local, national and student chapter events for The Federalist Society.

“The Constitution’s drafters understood that human nature requires government but also requires that limits be placed on government in order to support human flourishing,” he wrote on his personal Facebook page in a post honoring Constitution Day.

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, for which Byrne has participated in panels for new lawyers and other topics, according to his personal Twitter page, describes themselves as “a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order.”

Also during his campaign for court of appeals, he thanked the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio and the Dayton Right to Life Society for their endorsements.

Endorsed by the Warren County Republican Party before the March 2020 primary, he also promised to “continue working hard to earn the support of Republican voters.”

Byrne is a devoted Catholic, based on his social media, where he expressed broad support of the late Pope Benedict XVI.

“On a more personal level, he deeply influenced the development of my faith in God and I am grateful to him for that,” Byrne wrote on his Twitter page.

As pope, Benedict stated human life’s beginning as conception, and said preserving that value was “not negotiable.”

The late pope’s spokesperson was also quoted by the New York Times, amid a 2007 papal trip to Brazil, as saying legislators and politicians who vote in favor of abortion should  “exclude themselves from communion.”

Byrne’s biography on the 12th District Court of Appeals website also notes his role as an advisory board member for Pregnancy Center East, a Cincinnati-area facility that provides pregnancy services, including ultrasounds, parental workshops and “abortion information.”

Part of the information provided on the center’s website is information on reversing a medication abortion through the use of progesterone after taking the first of a two-pill regimen called mifepristone.

That claim has not been scientifically verified, and a study to test the claim was suspended because of serious medical issues experienced by the participants.

But the information has been pushed by GOP members of the state’s legislature in the past, with Senate Bill 155, an unpassed piece of legislation from 2019 attempting to require physicians to notify patients of widely criticized “developing research” on abortion reversal.

According to Byrne’s LinkedIn, he was an advisory board member for Pregnancy Center East from January 2015 to December 2020.



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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.