Ohioans to decide fate of abortion rights in November
Voters in Ohio will get a chance to decide the fate of abortion rights in the state come November.
According to the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there were 495,938 valid signatures to place the citizen-initiated constitutional amendment “Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” on the 2023 General Election ballot. The requirement to qualify is 413,487 signatures.
The signatures exceeded the state requirement in 55 counties, more than the necessary 44 county distribution, according to the ACLU.
If approved, the amendment will amend Article I of the Ohio Constitution by adding Section 22.
The amendment 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.
It would also prevent the state from directly or indirectly penalize, prohibit or interfere against someomes individual voluntary exercise of this right or anyone that assists with it.
However, it states an abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability. However "in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health."
"Today was an important victory for Ohio women, and Ohio Democrats were proud to play our part," said Ohio Democratic Chair Elizabeth Walters. "Out-of-touch politicians are relentlessly attacking women's fundamental rights, inserting themselves into women's personal, medical decisions and laying the groundwork for a total abortion ban in Ohio. In the days and weeks ahead, we look forward to telling these corrupt politicians: we won't go back."
The secretary of state will now forward the amendment to the Ohio Ballot Board, which must draft the language describing the amendment that will appear on the general election ballot, according to the Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights (OURR).
“Every person deserves respect, dignity, and the right to make reproductive health care decisions, including those related to their own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion free from government interference,” OURR Executive Committee member Lauren Blauvelt and Dr. Lauren Beene said in a news release. “Now that the petition drive is complete, we’re eager to continue the campaign to enshrine those rights in Ohio’s Constitution and ensure that Ohioans will never again be subject to draconian reproductive health care policies imposed by extremists.”
According to a recent poll conducted by Suffolk University and USA Today, more than 50% of Ohioans back abortion protections. This includes a third of republicans and 85 percent of independent women voters.
However, not every organization is please with this announcement. In a statement from Protect Women Ohio, the organization says this initiative is an anti-parent amendment.
"The extreme amendment places parental rights on the chopping block by permitting minors to undergo abortions and sex change procedures without their parents' knowledge or consent, removes health and safety protections for women, and allows painful abortion up until birth," said Protect Women Ohio's Press Secretary Amy Natoce. "PWO will continue to shine a light on the ACLU's disastrous agenda until it is defeated in November."
Ohio Right to Life claims this amendment would take away a parent's ability to stop their child from being pressured into an abortion and receive hormone suppressing drugs.
"This extreme anti-life, anti-parent amendment from the ACLU provides no protections for the preborn through all nine months of pregnancy and attacks a parent's right even to know if their child is seeking an abortion or gender surgery," said Ohio Right to Life CEO Peter Range. "Based upon the reality that the ACLU barely qualified for the ballot, despite spending millions of dollars, it is clear that a majority of Ohioans do not want this extreme amendment. We ask all Ohioans, who love life, to join us in rejecting this extreme amendment."
While the abortion rights amendment has made it on to the ballot, voters are deciding the future of petition based amendments now. Early voting has begun for Issue 1, which would raise the threshold for passing citizen-initiated constitutional amendments from 50% of the vote plus one to a 60% supermajority.