Ohio voters will have the opportunity to decide whether the right to an abortion should be added to the state constitution this fall. After gathering enough signatures, officials announced on Tuesday that the proposal will be on the ballot.
Support and Opposition
However, the level of support needed for the amendment to pass remains uncertain. Republican lawmakers have scheduled a special election next month to determine if the threshold should be raised from a simple majority to 60%. According to AP VoteCast polling conducted last year, 59% of Ohio voters believe that abortion should generally be legal.
Establishing Reproductive Freedom
The proposed measure aims to establish “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom” with “reasonable limits.” Similar to a constitutional amendment approved by Michigan voters in November, any restrictions on abortions after a fetus reaches viability would need to be supported by evidence of patient health and safety benefits. This usually occurs around the 24th week of pregnancy, as established by the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Protecting Individual Rights
In a statement, executive committee members for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, Lauren Blauvelt and Dr. Lauren Beene, emphasized the importance of respecting individual rights in making reproductive health care decisions. They called for the freedom to choose related to pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion without interference from the government.
Signatures and Timeline
Secretary of State Frank LaRose confirmed on Tuesday that Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights had submitted nearly 496,000 valid signatures. This comfortably surpassed the requirement and secured a spot for the amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot. The coalition had initially submitted more than 700,000 signatures.
Changes to Election Process
Statehouse Republicans have called for a special election on August 8th. This election will also address other changes to the election process, including the elimination of the 10-day curing period for citizen-led campaigns to submit additional signatures, and an increase in the number of counties where signatures must be collected from 44 to all 88. However, these changes will not impact the abortion issue, which has already overcome legal and administrative obstacles to reach the voting stage.
Abortion Debate in Ohio: Proposals and Opposition
In Ohio, the debate over abortion continues as a proposed amendment aims to limit access to the procedure. Currently, abortion is legal in the state up to 20 weeks’ gestation. However, a recent lawsuit challenging this law has prompted a judge to issue a stay, allowing the ban to take effect once cardiac activity can be detected, typically around six weeks into pregnancy. This timeframe often occurs before many women even realize they are pregnant.
The Republican attorney general is seeking to overturn this stay and has brought the case before the Ohio Supreme Court. On the other side, Ohio’s anti-abortion network is gearing up for a strong opposition campaign against the proposed amendment slated for November.
Protect Ohio Women, the group leading the opposition campaign, vows to continue shedding light on what they see as the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) detrimental agenda until the proposed amendment is defeated. The ACLU of Ohio is part of the November campaign’s executive committee and also contributes to Ohioans United For Reproductive Rights’ legal team.
This proposal in Ohio is just one of many across the nation that emerged in response to last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and shifted abortion policy to individual states. In Kansas, voters overwhelmingly defended abortion rights in a statewide test following the Supreme Court decision. Similarly, in November, five other states— California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont—either enshrined abortion rights in their constitutions or rejected constitutional limitations on the procedure.