Ohio Amendment to Enshrine Abortion in State Constitution Moves Forward

The Ohio Attorney General‘s Office certified the petition summary on Thursday for “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety,” a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize abortion throughout the state. The amendment would add Section 22 to Article 1 of the state Constitution.

The proposal would remove Ohio’s parental notification legislation when a minor wants an abortion and the requirement that abortionists adhere to fundamental hospital health and safety standards. The proposal also aims to permit abortions after babies have heartbeats and can feel pain.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, a coalition of radical pro-abortion activists that includes Planned Parenthood, Pro-Choice Ohio, the Abortion Fund of Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio, along with the Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, submitted the petition summary to the attorney general’s office on February 21st. It was filed under Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights.

In a statement released to the media Thursday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost made it clear that the “attorney general’s sole role in the petition process is to determine whether the language submitted by the petitioners is a fair and truthful summary of the proposed statute.”

However, Yost said that “there are significant problems with the proposed amendment, and if adopted, it will not end the long-running litigation on this topic, but simply transform it.”

The Ohio Ballot Board will now decide whether the proposal incorporates one or more constitutional amendments. After the petition is certified, the petitioners must gather over 413,000 signatures from registered voters in at least 44 counties, which equals 10 percent of the votes in the most recent gubernatorial election. The number of signatures must equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast in each county’s most recent gubernatorial race.

According to the release, if the sufficient number of signatures is “verified by the Ohio Secretary of State at least 65 days before the election, the full text of the proposed amendment will be placed on the ballot in the regular or general election that occurs subsequent to 125 days after the filing of the petition.”

After learning the coalition advanced the amendment on Thursday, Ohio Right to Life‘s Chief Executive Officer Peter Range said the organization looks forward to exposing “the dangers of this extreme amendment being pushed on Ohio by the abortion industry.”

“If passed, it would cancel parental rights and measures in place to protect young girls; basic health and safety protections for women would be wiped out; and it would make Ohio home to painful late-term abortions right up until birth,” Range said.

Susan B Anthony Pro-Life America State Affairs Director Sue Liebel said that regardless of an individual’s views on abortion, he or she should be concerned that this ballot measure contains no protections for woman’s safety.

“Regardless of what your views are on abortion, everyone should be concerned about this radical ballot measure that eliminates basic health care regulations and contains no protections for women’s safety. It’s extremely concerning that it would take Ohio’s law on parental consent off the books and it would forbid mothers and fathers from being able to have a say or any knowledge if their daughter seeks an abortion,” Liebel said.

Center for Christian Virtue (CCV) President Aaron Baer urged Ohio lawmakers to move quickly to pass state Representatives Brian Stewart‘s (R-Ashville) and Derek Merrin‘s (R-Monclova) joint resolution to increase the threshold to amend the Constitution to 60 percent.

“We also cannot allow liberal and pro-abortion special interests to attempt to buy their way into Ohio’s Constitution. Every pro-life lawmaker must move quickly to pass Representative Brian Stewart and Leader of House Republicans Derek Merrin’s Joint Resolution to increase the threshold to amend the Constitution to 60 percent,” Baer said.

In January, Stewart and Merrin, along with 30-plus GOP co-sponsors, re-submitted the “Ohio Constitution Protection Amendment,” which aims to require support from at least 60 percent of voters rather than a simple majority to pass future proposed amendments that lawmakers introduced last legislative session.

Although Stewart said that there was ample time to have the “Ohio Constitution Protection Amendment” on the May ballot, it did not pass in the Ohio House and Senate prior to the February 1st deadline.

Lawmakers now face an August 9th deadline to get the proposal before voters in November. In order for Stewart to get his resolution on the November ballot, three-fifths of the members in both chambers have to approve the resolution first. In the House, that’s 60 votes.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Dave Yost” by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. Background Photo “Protect Roe” by Becker1999. CC BY 2.0.


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