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Ohio abortion rights amendment takes next step after petition language certified

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Posted at 9:10 AM, Mar 03, 2023

The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has certified petition summary language for a proposed amendment to protect abortion rights in the state constitution, which organizers hope to place on the November ballot.

The Ohio Ballot Board will now determine whether or not the initiative only involves changing only one amendment, as required. If approved by the Ballot Board, it gets sent back to the Attorney General, who turns it in to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, at which point full signature-gathering can begin.

Advocates must collect signatures from 44 out of 88 counties equal to at least 5% of the total vote cast for the office of governor in that county at the last gubernatorial election. Overall, the petition must gather at least 10% of the total vote cast statewide for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. This math means that the group needs at least 442,958 valid signatures.

The drive to protect access to abortion care in Ohio is being spearheaded by Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights.

Right now, Ohio’s six-week abortion ban is unenforceable due to a Hamilton County judge blocking it indefinitely as the lawsuit against it continues. The bill does not have an exception for rape or incest.

However, once it gets out of court, it will likely head to the Ohio Supreme Court. An OCJ/WEWS investigation revealed how those justices already told Right to Life groups that abortion isn’t a Constitutional right.

If the proposed amendment gets to the ballot and is approved by voters, this amendment wouldn’t change existing laws automatically, but it would be the law that applies in all of the pending litigation.

If passed by voters, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution would be amended to allow “the right to reproductive freedom,” in a change similar to one approved by Michigan voters last year.

The groups supporting the ballot initiative are racing to bring the issue before voters before any changes can be made to the threshold needed to place a measure on the ballot. A GOP effort to raise the bar from 50% plus one to 60% plus one has been ongoing, though it’s unclear how long that might take.

Michigan’s amendment passed with 56.6% of the vote.

Percentage abortion was protected in other states last year:

  • Kentucky — 52.3%
  • Montana — 52.5%
  • Michigan — 56.6%
  • Kansas — 59%
  • California — 66%
  • Vermont — 76.7%