Michigan law similar to Ohio’s abortion amendment didn’t end parental consent ⋆

Michigan may provide the greatest proof that the anti-abortion ads claiming that Ohio’s abortion amendment will cause mass “sex changes” is false.

As more experts weigh in on the false anti-abortion ads, the similar Michigan law didn’t lead to health care without parental content.

This is the second installment in WEWS-TV’s Statehouse Bureau reporter Morgan Trau’s fact-checking series on the pro-abortion-rights amendment and what it is designed to do.

Fast facts

Ohioans will likely vote on whether abortion should be legal this November. Activists are now gathering signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

Anti-abortion coalition Protect Women Ohio (PWO) is fighting the amendment, spending millions to buy air time and digital ads focusing on parental consent — not just for abortion — but also for transgender gender-affirming care.

This fact check focuses on the two most recent ads out of the three. To watch and read about the first ad, click or tap here.

Line by line

Ohio Capital Journal/WEWS went through the major points that the ads claim.

In short, the abortion amendment will take away parental rights in regard to children having “sex changes,” the ads falsely claim. Abortion is also mentioned, but the focus of the ads is on parental rights and transgender care.

The direct language of the abortion rights amendment, and the portion that the ads focus on, states: “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion.”

Claim 1a: ‘I lose my parental rights’

In the first fact-check interview from April 10 with Mike Gonidakis, leader of Ohio Right to Life, he stated he believes the amendment will allow for any child to get gender-affirming care without parental consent.

“[It] will strip parental consent completely away in the state of Ohio,” Gonidakis said.

This belief comes from the use of the word “individual.”

Claim 1b: ‘Doesn’t differentiate between a minor and an adult.’

Because the amendment uses the word individual, instead of “adult,” the anti-abortionists are focusing on that word to try to convince viewers that the amendment is purposely unclear about children.

Nonpartisan law expert Jonathan Entin argued against this.

“There are plenty of places in the Ohio Revised Code where the legislature used the term individual and clearly meant adults,” Entin said.

For example, in sections of Ohio law, “individual” is used when talking about business ownership, taxes and firearm regulations (just to name a few).

In fact, the word “individual” is listed 3,700 times in the Ohio Revised Code and 18 times in the Ohio Constitution.

Claim 2: ‘This is opening the door for any other reproductive therapies, sex changes, anything to do with the reproductive organs.’

This claim was the main focus of the April 10 fact check.

“I think if an individual wants to go through the actual procedure to change their gender, that would fall under the umbrella of reproductive rights,” Gonidakis said.

The language is vague enough that gender-affirming care could be considered, he said.

Gender-affirming care, especially for minors, has nothing to do with reproductive rights, said Erin Upchurch, who works with LGBTQ+ kids and their families at Kaleidoscope Youth Center. She is also a clinician.

“It is not deemed as such medically or in the standards of care,” she said.

Entin agreed with her.

“The opponents are saying, ‘Well, but there’s this language that says “including but not limited to,”‘” Entin said. “But that’s bogus.”

Nothing in the amendment speaks to transgender care, the expert added, saying this is a wide stretch, at best.

Click or tap here to learn more about this claim.

Claim 3: ‘My 11-year-old daughter… She can say, ‘I’m going to go get a sex change’ and I can’t say or do anything about it because we have this amendment now that eliminates my right as a parent.’

That is an insane claim, James Knapp with TransOhio said. Knapp is an expert on transgender health and explained the standards of care.

“This notion that trans people are sneaking out at night and then going to get surgeries is just absurd because parents, of course, are involved,” Knapp said with a laugh.

He added that physicians and experts follow the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which just released its eighth version of best practices.

The 5,258-page document goes in-depth into every aspect of LGBTQ+ care and safety, including two chapters dedicated to children and adolescents.

The document includes extensive guidelines on guardian involvement, informed consent, and all the treatments to go through before having surgery.

For over a year, OCJ/WEWS has reported on the dogged focus some lawmakers at the Ohio Statehouse have had on transgender policies, some of which affect just a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the state’s residents, including laws meant to ban trans kids from getting health care and policies that remove them from athletics. We’re also reported on how rhetoric around gender-affirming care may have led to anonymous threats made towards hospitals that provide it.

Amid the hours of debate on trans issues and untold taxpayer dollars spent legislating them, there are wait lists for months to even get an initial appointment to get mental health treatment, doctors have told OCJ/WEWS.

“Even if we had good laws, good policies, and everything was very trans-forward, it still wouldn’t be a walk-in, walk-out situation,” Knapp said.

Transgender kids are just like cisgender kids, he added, saying that all minors under 18 will always need guardian consent.

Claim 4: ‘It’s not just about abortion like they say it is.’

Luckily, Ohioans can look into the future to find out.

Michigan voters chose to keep abortion legal back in 2022. Ohio’s amendment is very similar to theirs.

Merissa Kovach with the ACLU of Michigan explained their abortion amendment also faced claims of allowing gender-affirming care without parental consent.

When asked if any transgender health care changes happened following the successful vote, Kovach gave a resounding no.

“Those assertions are false, it’s pure nonsense,” she said. “It’s lies that were used to distract and scare voters in Michigan, and they’re lies that they’re being used now, unfortunately, in Ohio.”

Michigan’s amendment “played out exactly as it was written,” securing reproductive rights for the state up north.

“It has nothing to do with minors seeking gender-affirming care,” she said. “It means Michiganders have all of the rights that they had under Roe v. Wade and are able to continue to make their own reproductive health care decisions, including the right to abortion, without politicians being able to interfere.”

Verdict: All of the ads’ claims are false

From the OCJ/WEWS analysis with multiple legal experts, trans medical professionals, the amendment writers, and Michiganders who are living with the amendment in place — the claim that this amendment will allow for youth gender-affirming care without parental consent is false.

“The claim that this is some kind of mechanism for sneaking transgender rights into the Ohio Constitution is just wrong,” Entin said. “It’s dishonest.”

This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and was published on the ’s sister site, the Ohio Capital Journal, under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other Ohio Capital Journal articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.

Coming soon: Statehouse bureau reporter Morgan Trau fact-checks claims about “trans refuge states,” as well as further talks with Ohio leaders about the likely abortion amendment.

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.

authored by Morgan Trau
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