COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio voters will decide this November whether to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution, the Secretary of State’s Office announced Tuesday.
Of the more than 710,000 petition signatures submitted by Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights in early July, 495,938 were valid, clearing the 413,446-signature threshold to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The proposed amendment, which establishes the right to abortion up to the point of fetal viability, will be voted on Nov. 7.
The certification comes a day after a Suffolk University/USA Today poll was released, showing that 58% of Ohio voters support a constitutional right to abortion.
The initiative mimics a recently ratified constitutional amendment in Michigan and provides for the following:
- Every Ohioan has a right to make their own reproductive decisions, including contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage and abortion
- The State cannot burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with or discriminate against an Ohioan’s decision to exercise their reproductive rights
- Abortion can be prohibited after fetal viability, but it cannot be prohibited if a physician deems the procedure necessary to protect the patient’s life or health
- Fetal viability is defined as the point in a pregnancy when a physician deems the fetus has a “significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures” and is determined on a case-by-case basis
“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,” a statement from Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the group behind the initiative, read.
In Franklin County, two-thirds of submitted signatures were certified – raking in nearly 53,700 signatures for the proposed amendment.
A spokesperson for Protect Women Ohio, an anti-abortion coalition, said in a statement the proposed amendment is an “anti-parent” proposal.
“[Protect Women Ohio] will continue to shine a light on the ACLU’s disastrous agenda until it is defeated in November,” the statement read.
The amendment proposal faced challenges, both legal and electoral, from nearly the beginning of the abortion rights group’s effort to get the issue on the ballot.
Weeks after the reproductive rights groups submitted ballot language to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, members of Cincinnati’s Right to Life asked the Ohio Supreme Court to overrule the Ohio Ballot Board’s certification of the language. In June, the Supreme Court rejected the challenge, asserting that the initiative aligned with state law governing proposed amendments.
The certification comes two weeks before the August special election, in which voters will decide whether to stiffen the requirements to put a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment on the ballot. If passed, Issue 1 would require the abortion amendment to get at least 60% of the vote instead of a simple majority.
The Republican-sponsored issue was touted by lawmakers as a constitutional safeguard against out-of-state special interests. Secretary of State Frank LaRose has told supporters that Issue 1 is “100% about abortion” – and if passed, may block the abortion amendment from becoming law.