Ohio Ballot To Include Measure Codifying Abortion Rights

Reproductive rights rights advocates have submitted enough valid signatures to put a measure to Ohio voters in November codifying abortion access, the state’s secretary of state confirmed Tuesday.

The measure’s backers needed to submit enough signatures equal to at least 10% of the total votes cast in the last Ohio governor’s race, totaling 413,487 signatures. Their submission earlier this month surpassed the minimum count by more than 80,000 names, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said.

Voters will decide on the proposed constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights in the state in its Nov. 7 general election.

Members of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the umbrella group behind the amendment, celebrated Tuesday’s development.

“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,” the campaign’s executive committee members Lauren Blauvelt and Dr. Lauren Beene said in a statement. “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.”

Abortion is currently banned in Ohio after 22 weeks of pregnancy. While the state’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed a six-week ban into law in 2019, a judge issued an injunction on the ban following a lawsuit from abortion rights activists. The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

Major abortion wins in other solidly red states, from Kansas to Kentucky, are promising news for the Ohio amendment’s backers. But a new GOP-led effort in Ohio could soon make it harder to pass constitutional amendments. Next month, the state’s electorate will vote on a measure that seeks to raise the threshold for passing constitutional amendments from a simple majority to a 60% majority.

That level of support for codifying abortion rights has proven hard to reach. Last year, voters in blue-leaning Michigan passed its amendment with around 57% of the vote, and Kansas protected its amendment with around 59% support.

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