This fall, Ohioans may be voting on a proposal that would enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution. Supporters of the initiative are now able to begin collecting signatures to put the measure on the ballot after it cleared a key hurdle on Monday. The Ohio Ballot Board confirmed that the petition language contained only one proposed amendment, paving the way for the signature-gathering phase to begin.
Abortion is currently legal in Ohio up to 20 weeks’ gestation, under a judge’s order issued in a lawsuit challenging a ban on the procedure once cardiac activity can be detected, which usually occurs around six weeks into pregnancy. The Republican attorney general has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn the stay.
The fall ballot proposal would guarantee access to abortion until viability, which is typically around 24 weeks into pregnancy, when the fetus can survive outside the womb. The measure would also protect healthcare providers from facing punishment for performing the procedure or helping to facilitate it.
Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom are leading the campaign to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November. Under state law, they must collect 413,446 valid voter signatures, which represents 10% of the votes in the last governor’s race, from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. They have until July 5 to collect the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot, but they are aiming to gather at least 700,000 signatures to ensure they meet the requirement.
Anti-abortion groups have vowed to fight the proposal, with some already urging Ohio residents to vote against it if it makes it to the ballot. If the measure does make it onto the ballot, it is likely to be the subject of intense campaigning and debate in the months leading up to the vote.
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