News · Press Release

“Mike Johnson’s Favorite House Candidate” Derek Merrin Is Also One of the Most Outspoken on Abortion

Merrin “has a long history in the Ohio House of Representatives leading measures like a six-week abortion ban and one that would have prosecuted people as young as 13 for seeking an abortion.”

New reporting from NOTUS highlights Derek Merrin’s aggressive anti-abortion platform and the danger he has posed to women and families across Ohio.

From co-sponsoring six-week abortion bans without exceptions for rape or incest to total bans that could be “punishable by death,” Merrin – a “fervently anti-abortion” politician – was hand-picked by far-right Speaker Mike Johnson to help further his attacks against women’s reproductive rights.

DCCC Spokesperson Aidan Johnson:
“Derek Merrin wants a total abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. He is so extreme that the bills he co-sponsored would jail women and children as young as 13. Last November, Ohioans codified reproductive freedoms in the state’s constitution and won’t let a dangerous politician like Derek Merrin take those rights away.”

NOTUS: Mike Johnson’s Favorite House Candidate Is Also One of the Most Outspoken on Abortion
Katherine Swartz | June 11, 2024

  • One of House Speaker Mike Johnson’s favorite congressional candidates is like him in many ways: conservative, deeply religious and fervently anti-abortion.

  • You won’t find Derek Merrin’s abortion stance on his campaign website, and he hasn’t talked about it in recent interviews. But the 38-year-old state legislator running against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur has a long history in the Ohio House of Representatives leading measures like a six-week abortion ban and one that would have prosecuted people as young as 13 for seeking an abortion.

  • Merrin’s record stands out among GOP candidates vying for the frontline districts that will determine the House majority. National Democrats have already seized on Merrin’s record.

  • Ohio voters upheld the right to an abortion in the state constitution last year.

  • The Merrin campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

  • Merrin consistently spearheaded efforts to enact a statewide abortion ban during his years in the Ohio House of Representatives, before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

  • In 2019, he was one of 19 Republicans to co-sponsor a total ban on abortion, a bill that would create “the capital offense of aggravated abortion murder and the offense of abortion murder.” Anyone who performed or sought an abortion, including someone as young as 13, could be prosecuted and could be found “punishable by death.”

  • That bill didn’t make it out of committee, but the same year, the Ohio Legislature passed a six-week abortion ban. Merrin shepherded the bill as chair of the House Health Committee.

  • Merrin insisted he and other conservatives were not “injecting our personal faith into this bill.” But when that bill was being deliberated in his committee, Merrin challenged a reverend about a verse from Jeremiah, and on the House floor recounted testimony from two women who turned to their Christian faith after regretting their abortions.

  • As committee chair, Merrin did not include any amendments to include exceptions for rape or incest. 

  • Merrin was tapped as the next Speaker of the statehouse in January 2023, but in a last-minute shake-up lost out on the gavel when Republican

  • In the days after his loss, Merrin didn’t concede gracefully.

  • And in his first and most significant step as self-declared leader of his party, Merrin and his fellow Republicans pushed for an overhaul of the constitutional amendment process, requiring signatures to be collected from every county in order to get a measure on the ballot, and that a measure would have to receive a 60% threshold rather than a simple majority.

  • To Democrats in the state, already organizing to get a constitutional amendment upholding the right to an abortion on the ballot, the message was clear.

  • “It was absolutely about abortion,” Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio Executive Director Lauren Blauvelt told NOTUS.

  • Ohio’s 9th Congressional District approved Issue 1 by 12 points. Democrats are looking to capitalize on that victory and continue to hone in on Merrin’s record in the statehouse.


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