A proposed state constitutional amendment seeks to make abortion permanent in Ohio. Those fighting the November measure are calling it a "direct attack on families" that undermines parental rights on multiple issues, including transgender surgeries.
First-year lawmaker Melanie Miller – representing Ohio's 67th district – says she's leaning on her faith to fight for life.
"With the overturn of Roe, every state has to determine what the law will become," Rep. Miller said. "So right now, Ohio has been challenged with a ballot initiative."
The initiative is called The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety. It's backed by organizations with deep pockets, like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Its passing would cement abortion rights into Ohio's constitution. CBN News reached out to those behind the amendment and received no response.
"In the scriptures, it says that children are a reward, they're a heritage, they're a blessing," said Miller. "They are not a burden, but they are a gift from God."
Fighting for life is central to the freshman congresswoman's platform.
"I had no idea the overturn of Roe would take place in the midst of my campaign last year," she said.
Years before taking a seat in Ohio's House, Miller spent most of her time volunteering at Ashland Pregnancy Care Center, where she met Matt Miller – now her husband and Ashland's mayor.
Today, in addition to serving in Ohio's statehouse, Miller runs the same center that sparked her passion for life.
"The work of the pregnancy center is key to God's work – it's fighting against life and death each and every day," Miller said. "And when they've seen their baby on an ultrasound, and they can see the spiral or they see the fingers and toes – they thank us. For the first time, they felt joy about being a parent. People just need hope."
Witnessing this hope firsthand is why Rep. Miller is all-in on stopping the advancement of the proposed abortion amendment. Pro-life leaders tell CBN a big challenge is the wording of the amendment. They're concerned it would strip away parental rights, not only for abortion rights but also gender reassignment surgeries.
"This amendment is anti-parent, it is anti-life, and it is far too extreme," said Beth Vanderkooi, executive director for Greater Columbus Right to Life.
"If they are successful, we are going to see an elimination of parental rights. So, the involvement of parents before children make life-altering decisions – like having an abortion or participating in gender therapy. We're going to see a repeal of basic and fundamental health and safety protections that protect women and newborn children. And we're going to see an expansion of abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, including painful and cruel procedures on perfectly healthy babies," Vanderkooi explained.
Vanderkooi and Miller are partnered with the pro-life coalition called Protect Women Ohio. The group is spending $5 million on ads to educate parents about what's happening.
"They added in these really loose language terms such as 'reproductive decisions.' So, it could be my 11-year-old daughter making decisions without my involvement… she could say, 'I'm going to go get a sex change' and I can't do anything about it because we have this amendment now that eliminates my right as a parent."
While the amendment doesn't specifically mention transgender surgeries or parental rights, Protect Women Ohio believes the legal interpretation would cover those. Aaron Baer, president of Center for Christian Virtue is helping lead the coalition's campaign.
"They chose very strategic words intentionally so they could wrap their entire political agenda in Ohio's Constitution," Baer said.
He worries the same tactics pro-abortion groups are using in Ohio will soon expand to threaten constitutions and families nationwide.
"This constitutional amendment is a pimp and predator's dream because now they'll be able to prostitute women out to coerce women, pressure women, and cover up their crimes and evidence through abortion," said Baer.
Since the fall of Roe V. Wade, California, Michigan, and Vermont have already approved ballot initiatives to amend their state constitutions to add abortion rights. Rep. Miller encourages everyone to educate themselves about what's happening in their state and join the conversation.
"And now this is the issue of our day. It's like this Esther moment 'for such a time as this,' that God is bringing together people of the Christian faith, people who believe that life is precious and should be protected," said Rep. Miller. "And now the country is looking at Ohio."
The abortion amendment supporters need more than 400,000 signatures from dozens of Ohio counties by June 5th in order to get on the ballot. If successful, Ohio will vote on the measure November 7th. Regardless of the outcome here, this ongoing effort will likely lead to similar battles over abortion and parental concerns in state legislatures across America.