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Judge weighing Ohio abortion rights amendment's legal impact keeps anti-abortion groups clear

Judge holds gavel in hand.
SalFalko
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A federal judge in Ohio has denied a group of anti-abortion advocates the ability to weigh in on long-running litigation over abortion clinic transfer agreements, as he assesses the impacts on the case of an abortion-rights amendment approved by voters this fall.

In a brief order issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett said he rejected the advocates' request to file a friend of the court brief because they “will not be of assistance in resolving or clarifying a question of law.”

The coalition included Ohio Christian Alliance, three current and former Republican Ohio state representatives, leaders of several Ohio anti-abortion groups, a community pregnancy center, among others.

The parties intended to file a brief in support of Ohio Director of Health Bruce Vanderhoff, who has asked for summary judgment in the case. They described having “interests in defending against misuse of the ballot initiative by abortion providers." They also said they have “direct and vital interests in objecting to any implementation of Issue 1 by the Court.”

The effort comes amid a broader movement nationally that has seen abortion opponents attempting to defy voters' support for abortion rights through recount efforts, legislative pushback and attacks on courts and the citizen-led ballot initiative process.

In his order, Barrett said the groups “notably fail to make even the most cursory references" to any of the laws and provisions central to the suit.

“Instead, they condemn ‘how manipulated the initiative process has become,’” he wrote, and otherwise provide “a highly partisan account of the facts.”

Last month, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment that ensures access to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care.

Julie Carr Smyth - Associated Press