The DeWines are gaslighting Ohioans in their dishonest anti-Issue 1 ad

October 24, 2023 4:30 am

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine talks with the press. (Photo by Graham Stokes for the Ohio Capital Journal / Republish photo only with original story.)

They’re lying. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and wife Fran cut a homey anti-Issue 1 ad with warm lighting and soft music that features the couple as honest-to-goodness people with heart-felt concerns about the abortion rights amendment on the ballot Nov. 7. Then the lovely pair proceed to lie through their teeth. 

“Everywhere we go, folks tell us they’re confused about Issue 1,” begins the governor. (That’s because Ohioans just voted for another Issue 1 three months ago deliberately labeled by Ohio Republicans to confuse voters in an attempt to undermine the original Issue 1 on Nov. 7.) DeWine skips that inconvenient truth and presses on.

“So, Fran and I have carefully studied it.” (Trust the anti-choice extremist who vowed “to go as far as we can” to prohibit reproductive rights in Ohio for fair assessment.) Fran’s takeaway of the constitutional amendment — that essentially restores the pre-Dobbs protections Ohio women enjoyed before June 24, 2022 — is heavy on fear-mongering and fabrication. 

“Issue 1 would allow an abortion at any time during pregnancy,” she intones, knowing full well the proposed amendment allows for the same reasonable abortion restrictions after fetal viability that now exist with exception for incredibly rare cases that threaten the life or health of the pregnant patient. She leans into the “late-term” anti-abortion fallacy to suggest that Issue 1 could lead to full-term infanticide in the state. 

“Simply lies created to push a false narrative,” countered Ohio House Rep. Anita Somani, a practicing OB-GYN for 31 years. This is her take:

“Late-term abortions is actually not a term used in medicine. However, the gestational ages they are referring to make up less than 1% of abortions and all of those are before 22 weeks. In fact, you won’t find data showing abortions after this age because those are deliveries and are recorded as such with birth or death certificates. If there is a birth defect that is incompatible with life or a maternal condition that is life threatening, labor is induced and the child is then given comfort care. If the child is viable (i.e., after 24 weeks) neonatal care is provided.”

Back to the governor’s missus. And more deception. “It [Issue 1] would deny parents the right to be involved in their daughters making the most important decision of her life.” No it wouldn’t, Fran. Nothing in the amendment, providing constitutional protections for abortion access in the state, even addresses parental rights, concluded Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. (The same phony arguments about minors were raised before Michigan’s nearly identical abortion rights amendment passed with its parental consent laws intact.)       

DeWine closes his commercial against Issue 1 with patronizing father-knows-best drivel. “I know Ohioans are divided on the issue of abortion, but whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, Issue 1 is just not right for Ohio.” But a draconian six-week abortion ban DeWine immediately imposed on Ohio women as soon as the Supreme Court rescinded half a century of protected reproductive freedom in the country is??

Fran’s sign-off is blunt. “Issue 1 just goes too far.” But a near total ban on access to abortion, with no exceptions for rape or incest which forced a pregnant, 10-year-old rape victim to seek out-of-state emergency medical care after it was prohibited in her home state doesn’t?? The grotesque gaslighting by the DeWines is, unfortunately, not an anomaly in the concerted disinformation campaign running to deny women a constitutional right to abortion and other reproductive health care in the state. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the sinister partisan who tried to subvert voters’ majority rights in the August election and who flagrantly distorted ballot language on the upcoming abortion rights amendment to defeat it, called Issue 1 a “sinister” plot of the “abortion industry” that was “shrouded in the clever mask of reproductive freedom.” 

The slippery elections chief also falsely claimed the amendment would green-light “taxpayer-funded abortion” throughout pregnancy and “long after viability when the unborn child would survive outside the womb.” Piling on the deceptive innuendos of legalized infanticide were extremists in the Ohio Senate who posited the ballot initiative will “allow the worst atrocities imaginable,” including “the dismemberment of fully conscious children,” in an adopted resolution.

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland tied all the prevailing lies about Issue 1 together and preached “it will put women at risk, it will take away parental rights, and it will allow for late-term abortions of fully-formed babies in the womb.” Not true. None of it. Read the full text of the proposal to amend Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution for yourself.

The 211-word amendment, simply titled “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety,” is pretty straightforward. Issue 1 asks voters to reinforce the right of every individual to make their own deeply personal and difficult decisions about their own bodies without politicians, anti-abortion lobbyists, the Catholic Church or the governor and wife butting in.

It doesn’t change parental consent laws, doesn’t cover sex-change surgery, doesn’t force underaged girls into unwanted abortions. Those who disseminate those myths — or misleading messaging that imply a suspended abortion ban isn’t a court ruling (or defeated ballot initiative) away — are lying through their pearly whites. 



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Marilou Johanek
Marilou Johanek

Marilou Johanek is a veteran Ohio print and broadcast journalist who has covered state and national politics as a longtime newspaper editorial writer and columnist.