COLUMBUS, OH — JANUARY 31: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine during the State of the State Address, Jan. 31, 2023, in the House Chamber at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is “accepting” the will of the people on legalizing abortion access and marijuana recreation, but that acceptance comes with caveats.
Days after Ohioans voted to enshrine abortion and other reproductive rights in the state constitution, the governor acknowledged the result — even as fellow Republicans look for ways to overturn it.
“In this country, we accept the results of elections, and we certainly accept the results of Issue 1 in Ohio as well as Issue 2,” he said.
Dozens of Statehouse Republicans wrote a letter saying they would try to prevent the repealing of anti-abortion provisions, in essence stopping Issue 1 from taking effect. However, DeWine emphasized the importance of respecting the voters. Despite doing so, he avoided answering Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau’s questions about the efforts of his colleagues.
“Do you think that GOP plans or opponent plans to repeal it would be going against the will of the people?” Trau asked.
“Look — I’m not going to talk about what anybody else is doing,” DeWine said. “What I’ve just said is that we respect the vote, but like everything else in this country, whether it’s legislation passed by the General Assembly, a constitutional amendment passed by the people, we always continue to evaluate how things are working.”
DeWine kept deflecting but eventually said the voters and lawmakers would consider all avenues.
“People will decide if they are comfortable with what we voted on, or they will decide that it maybe needs to be changed or tweaked,” the governor said.
However, he acknowledged one of the reasons Issue 1 passed is because of the unpopular six-week abortion ban, one without exceptions for rape and incest. This was a bill he signed into law but said he wasn’t responsible for the constitutional amendment.
“How people felt once Roe v. Wade was overturned, what was hypothetical became real… You can see a change in people’s opinions,” he said.
The governor also pushed back against the GOP members planning on overhauling Issue 2, which legalized recreational marijuana, but he said he does want to see some changes.
“We have an obligation to make sure that this is done right,” he added.
He says that his main recommendation to the lawmakers is to make sure that Ohioans are protected from smoke in public places and that children don’t accidentally ingest weed products like gummies.
“People have a right to smoke marijuana, that’s fine,” DeWine said. “But other people have a right not to smell it and not to have their kids or their grandkids exposed to it.”
DeWine seemed to get fed up with reporters asking about repealing or changing both Issues. Colleague Nick Evans asked a follow-up question about J.D. Vance making a comment about abortion, which DeWine rejected.
“No, no, no, no, no,” DeWine said. “How often in this conversation you all are not quoting me…. I always take responsibility for what I say, but you’re quoting someone else — this is about the eighth time.
“I’m happy to dodge that question like I tried to dodge the other ones.”
Following Tuesday’s vote in Ohio, Vance began discussion a national abortion ban.
Democratic representatives have introduced legislation to repeal numerous restrictions in state law to abortion access.
Some of these included removing the six-week ban and the mandatory 24-hour waiting period between showing up to get an abortion and getting the procedure.
“This bill is making sure that people do have access to by removing some of the barriers that have been put in place over the last 20 or 30 years that really impact women’s health and the care they’re able to receive,” physician and state representative Beth Liston (D-Dublin) said.
It is unlikely that the Republicans in the statehouse will pass this bill. In fact, WEWS/OCJ asked state Rep. Josh Williams (R-Sylvania) if he thinks it will be heard, and he just responded, “No.”
“What’s going to happen is those restrictions are going to have to be challenged in court,” Williams said.
Williams is one of the 27 of 67 Republican members of the House who have condemned the passage of Issue 1.
“We will do everything in our power to prevent our laws from being removed based upon perception of intent,” the letter states.
When asked what this meant, Williams said it means whether or not Issue 1 being put into effect or the new legislation from the Democrats would directly conflict with existing law.
The lawmakers then plan to challenge these in court, he said. However, there doesn’t seem to be much legally the GOP can do.
“The key is to make sure that the public knows exactly what it is — in case we try to amend this amendment in the future,” he said.
Liston knew this was the likely situation and that the Republicans would ignore her bill, but said it’s her job as a lawmaker in the Democratic caucus to lift up Ohioans voices.
“I’m not sure what some of the extremists will be doing, but we will be working to make sure that women have access to health care,” she said.
This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
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