Ohio abortion ballot meets November signature requirement

Ohio announced Tuesday that pro-abortion advocates have signed the ballot to place a measure on the Nov. 7 ballot that would codify abortion rights into the state constitution.

The petitioners, certified by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), received a total of 495,938 valid signatures, exceeding the required minimum of 413,446 signatures — 10 percent of all votes cast in the last election for governor. These signatures were collected from 55 counties in Ohio, also exceeding the minimum requirement of at least 44 counties.

The coalition announced earlier this month that it had gathered over 700,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

If passed, the amendment would establish a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” with “reasonable limits.” Similar to the standard once established under Roe v. Wade, the amendment would allow abortion to the point where a fetus can survive outside the uterus, usually around 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

The proposed amendment states: “Every individual has the right to make and implement their own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions about contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion.”

The election committee and the state attorney general had previously approved the wording of the amendment.

Ohio issued a six-week abortion ban shortly after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade overturned before a state court put the ban on hold last fall.

“Today was an important victory for the women of Ohio, and Ohio Democrats were proud to do our part,” said Elizabeth Walters, Chairwoman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “Noncontact politicians are relentlessly attacking women’s basic rights, interfering in women’s personal and medical decisions, and laying the groundwork for a total abortion ban in Ohio.”

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled last month that a contentious special election can go ahead as scheduled in August, asking residents to vote on a resolution raising the threshold for future action to a supermajority of 60 percent. Since the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade overturned, abortion-related amendments in several states show voter support ranging from 50 to 60 percent, according to the Associated Press.

Abortion advocates pushed back on August’s special election, claiming that the move would make the November amendment more difficult to pass.

The news follows a recent USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll that found nearly 60 percent of Ohio voters support abortion law changes. Support for the amendment declined along party lines: 81 percent of Democrats supported the amendment and 32 percent of Republicans supported it. The poll found that 70 percent of independents supported the measure.

“Everyone deserves respect, dignity and the right to make reproductive health decisions, including those related to pregnancy, miscarriage management and abortion, without government intervention,” said Lauren Blauvelt and Dr. Lauren Beene, members of the Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights executive committee, in a statement Tuesday.

LaRose said he will now direct the Ohio Board of Elections to place the amendment on the ballot for November’s general election.

LaRose launched his bid for the US Senate last week, joining two major Republican candidates vying for Senator Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) seat.

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