A Civilized Discussion on Amending the Ohio Constitution to Allow Abortion: Today in Ohio Special Episode

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Abortion is one of the most divisive issues of the modern age. But most Ohioans support the right.

So could the thoughtful citizens of Ohio come to a consensus on a potential constitutional amendment allowing abortion, with limitations?

Today in Ohio he aimed to give it a try, with his first live audience special episode. About 20 people joined cleveland.com editor Chris Quinn and chief content officer Laura Johnston to consider what an amendment would include.

Listen online here.

Should an amendment be general and let the legislature make the rules? Or should the language be specific? Should the details include strict deadlines or allow women to make decisions in consultation with doctors? Should there be exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother?

Matt, a registered nurse who joined the podcast, believes that abortion is the decision a patient makes with a health care provider and that politicians shouldn’t be making the rules.

“No two people are the same, and no two pregnancies are the same. So putting something hard and fast, 14 weeks, 4 days, 5 hours, whatever, it’s not fair,” Matt said. “That really needs to be an evidence-based decision.”

Others who joined our online chat were in favor of a strict deadline, after which the fetus could not be aborted. They debated whether a specific number is feasible. Mary suggested establishing an entitlement for the first trimester, with clear exceptions for the second and third trimesters. Laura asked if we could create a commission to set the rules.

Linda asked if an amendment could pass without some limits. Others believe that more details would lead to more opponents of the amendments. But most people said they would support exceptions for rape and incest.

MaryAnn said that girls or women should not be victimized twice, being forced to carry a baby to term. Others agreed.

Should there be an exception for late anomalies? One participant mentioned the possibility of women aborting because they don’t want a child of that gender, an issue that would anger many Ohioans. But how to control a woman’s motive? A current Ohio law punishes doctors who perform abortions because women fear their children may be born with Down syndrome.

Pamela discussed her experience with genetic counseling during pregnancy.

Dorothea said that medical ethics should set the standards, rather than the politicians. Andrew said that the “elephant in the room” is a woman’s motivation. Laura disagreed, saying we can’t know the motivations and we shouldn’t. Chris said that it would probably be difficult to pass an amendment without some limitations.

Throughout our half-hour discussion, we talked about the importance of women’s health, both physical and mental, and the difficulty of making any decision.

Please listen.

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