Constitutional amendment to provide state right to abortion will be on Nov. 2023 ballot in Ohio

Ohio voters will decide on a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment related to reproductive decisions, including abortion, in Nov. 2023. This is the first and only statewide abortion measure certified for the ballot in 2023. Two more are currently set for 2024.

On July 25, 2023, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced that of the 710,131 signatures submitted by the campaigns supporting the initiative, 495,938 signatures were found to be valid. This met the valid signature requirement of 413,487 signatures and qualified the measure for the ballot.

Lauren Blauvelt and Lauren Beene of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the coalition leading the initiative, said, “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.”

The amendment, if approved by voters, would provide that “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy. The amendment would allow the state to prohibit abortion after fetal vitality, and prohibit the state from banning abortion when it comes to protecting the life or health of the pregnant patient.

In support of the amendment, Blauvelt said, “The people of Ohio overwhelmingly support abortion access and keeping the government out of our personal lives. This citizen-led amendment will do just that: through our deep community partnerships and long history of protecting reproductive freedom and providing access to healthcare, this campaign puts the power back in the hands of the people of Ohio, so everyone has the freedom to prevent, continue, or end a pregnancy should they decide.”

Protect Women Ohio, the campaign leading the initiative opposing the amendment, said, “Using the label ‘reproductive freedom,’ the abortion industry wants to bring taxpayer funded abortion at any time during pregnancy, including beyond the point at which an unborn baby can feel pain, to Ohio. Their proposal would outlaw protections for the most vulnerable and would eliminate basic health and safety regulations in place to protect women.”

The amendment would need a 50% simple majority by voters in order to pass on Nov. 7, 2023. However, if voters approve Issue 1 on Aug. 8, 2023, which would require a 60% vote in order to amend the Ohio Constitution, the amendment would require a 60% supermajority to be approved by voters in November.

Another ballot measure, a marijuana legalization initiative, may also appear on the November ballot. The initiative campaign fell short of the required number of valid signatures. The campaigns will have 10 days to gather additional 679 valid signatures.

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