Legal and ballot challenges to the abortion-related provisions Gov. John Kasich signed into law in the two-year, $62 billion budget could come from the man who wants to unseat him next year.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald is exploring challenging provisions he said might violate state and federal law. He also might form a coalition to have the provisions repealed through the lengthy process of a citizens-initiated statute.
If successful, the initiated-statute route would put the abortion provisions before voters on the same November 2014 ballot where FitzGerald would likely oppose Kasich. Yesterday was the second event FitzGerald has held to decry the budget since Kasich signed it on June 30. FitzGerald specifically mentioned the abortion provisions, which will be an issue for Democrats next year.“I think the women’s health provisions are the most egregious and have provoked the most justifiable outrage,” FitzGerald said.
To create a citizens-initiated statute, FitzGerald said about 118,000 signatures would be needed to place before the Republican-controlled legislature a law to repeal at least some of the abortion provisions.
If the legislature did not act within four months, the coalition would have to collect the same amount of signatures to place the law before voters on Nov. 6, 2014.
According to the secretary of state’s office, 15 citizens-initiated statutes have gone before voters and five have passed.
FitzGerald likened the effort to the one led by Democrats and labor groups in 2011 to overturn GOP-backed limits on collective bargaining.
“It’s going to give people an outlet to make sure that they know that our democratic process — although it fails us sometimes, as it did in this case — there are options that we have,” FitzGerald said.
The three items FitzGerald mentioned for possible legal challenges were budget directives that prohibit rape-crisis counselors from discussing abortions as an option with victims, require doctors to predict to women how long a fetus would survive in the womb, and prohibit public hospitals from entering into transfer agreements with abortion providers.
The other two abortion-related provisions in the budget require a doctor to perform an exterior ultrasound before an abortion and, according to Democrats, deny Planned Parenthood access to federal funds for a wide range of nonabortion measures, such as cancer screenings.
FitzGerald suggested that both strategies — legal challenges and the initiated statute — were being considered by his campaign, possibly Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, and others.