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GOP-leaning Ohio could vote on adding abortion rights to constitution

A petition that has gathered 700,000 signatures could put an initiative on the November ballot to amend the Ohio constitution to legalize abortion.
GOP-leaning Ohio could vote on adding abortion rights to constitution
Posted at 7:10 AM, Jul 06, 2023

On Wednesday morning, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights delivered hundreds of boxes containing thousands of signatures required to place a proposal to amend the Ohio constitution to legalize abortion in the state on the November ballot.

The group filed more than 700,000 petition signatures supporting reproductive freedom in the state gathered in all 88 Ohio counties over the course of 12 weeks — about 300,000 more than was necessary to be on the ballot.

State officials will have to validate the signatures before placing the proposal on the ballot.

“This is a historic day for Ohio and for reproductive freedom. We cannot thank our volunteers enough for this herculean grassroots effort to ensure patients and doctors, not government extremists, are in control of making private medical decisions. Fortunately, the Ohio constitution gives us the ability to take this popular issue directly to the people,” said Lauren Blauvelt and Kellie Copeland of Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom. “Today, we take a huge step forward in the fight for abortion access and reproductive freedom for all, to ensure that Ohioans and their families can make their own health care decisions without government interference.”

Protect Women Ohio, a coalition of anti-abortion groups and leaders, released this statement in response to the filing of the petitions:

“The ACLU’s extreme anti-parent amendment is so unpopular that it couldn’t even rely on grassroots support to collect signatures. The ACLU paid out-of-state signature collectors to lie to Ohioans about its dangerous amendment that will strip parents of their rights, permit minors to undergo sex change operations without their parents’ knowledge or consent, and allow painful abortion on demand through all nine months. The ACLU’s attempts to hijack Ohio’s constitution to further its own radical agenda would be pathetic if they weren’t so dangerous.”

Scripps News Cleveland has debunked the often-repeated claim that the abortion amendment would "permit minors to undergo sex change operations without their parents' knowledge or consent."

SEE MORE: Texas abortion ban may have contributed to births of nearly 10K babies

After the Dobbs decision last year, lawmakers in Ohio have tried to implement a "heartbeat" bill, which would effectively ban abortions after six weeks into a pregnancy. Enforcement of the law, which was signed by Ohio's Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, has been blocked in court. 

With the law signed by DeWine blocked, abortions are permitted in Ohio through 22 weeks. 

One obstacle abortion rights groups may face is an August initiative that would raise the requirements to amend the state constitution. Currently, a simple majority of Ohio voters is all it takes to amend the constitution. If voters approve in August, that threshold increases to 60%.   

This story was originally published by Morgan Trau and Ian Cross at Scripps News Cleveland.

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