COLUMBUS, Ohio (LifeSiteNews) — A proposal to create a state constitutional amendment enshrining abortion as a “right” in Ohio has officially garnered sufficient valid signatures to land on the ballot in November. The news comes as a recent poll found that some 58% of Ohio voters support the radical amendment.
State officials said Tuesday that the proposal, drafted by the ACLU of Ohio, would appear on the ballot.
Pro-abortion groups had gathered a total of 700,000 signatures in favor of the ballot initiative across Ohio over the span of 12 weeks, according to local ABC affiliate News 5 Cleveland.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose determined that, of the submitted 700,000, a final tally of 495,938 were valid, crossing the threshold for the required 413,487 signatures. LaRose will now pass along the initiative to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will create the language describing the proposal that will be used on the ballot in November.
According to the language of the proposal, which would amend Article I of the Ohio state constitution, “[e]very individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion.”
The state is thereby prohibited from setting up any barriers against “an individual’s voluntary exercise of this right.”
The initiative does recognize the right of the state to restrict abortion after “fetal viability,” but the vague wording could render the allowance practically meaningless since it would categorically forbid the prohibition of abortion post-”viability” if such an abortion were deemed necessary by a physician “to protect the pregnant patient’s [sic] life or health.”
Pro-life advocates point out that the deliberate killing of a preborn baby is never medically necessary. Moreover, as LifeSiteNews previously noted, pro-lifers have long argued that such “or health” language essentially nullifies abortion bans by allowing abortionists to decide that practically any abortion is “necessary” to ensure the mother’s “health.”
Pro-life leaders have also warned that the language about “indirectly” interfering with abortion would effectively eliminate Ohio’s ability to impose any health, safety, waiting, or informed-consent standards on the practice, LifeSite has noted.
Ohio Right to Life has vehemently condemned the constitutional proposal, arguing that it “would enshrine abortion until birth and remove all protections for the preborn — including a parent’s ability to stop their child from being pressured into an abortion.”
“We ask all Ohioans, who love life, to join us in rejecting this extreme amendment,” Ohio Right to Life CEO Peter Range said in a July 25 statement.
“Knowing the serious danger of this amendment and that these out-of-state special interest groups still have millions to spend to get it passed, it is even more imperative that every pro-life Ohioan votes yes on Issue 1 this August to ensure that our Constitution, our preborn, and our families are protected,” Range said.
A “yes” vote on Issue 1 would require a stronger majority of Ohioans to vote in favor of any new proposed constitutional amendments. While currently a 50% plus one vote in favor is acceptable to approve a proposed amendment, Issue 1 would increase that percentage to a 60% supermajority.
Passing Issue 1 may be crucial to combat the radical proposal if current polling data is accurate.
A new USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll of 500 likely Ohio voters conducted earlier this month found that respondents favored the pro-abortion amendment by a margin of 58%-32%. USA TODAY reported a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Meanwhile, opponents of the measure have argued that its “loosely defined” language, banning any direct or indirect interference or burdens placed upon “reproductive decisions” could be interpreted to exclude parents from being informed or consulted if their child opts to get an abortion or a mutilating transgender intervention, Fox News pointed out.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, asserted the proposal “removes parents from some of their minor children’s most important health decisions, such as parental notification before an abortion.”
Similarly, Logan Church, director of CatholicVote Ohio, argued the proposal “is too extreme for Ohio.”
“As part of its unrelenting attack on parents, the ACLU’s proposed amendment seeks to cut parents out of their child’s most important and life-altering health decisions – including abortions and sex-change operations,” he said.
To date, three states (California, Michigan, and Vermont) have passed amendments explicitly enshrining the “right” to abortion into their state constitutions in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in which the nation’s highest court rolled back the federal “right to abortion” created in Roe v. Wade (1973).
So far, 14 states have enacted or implemented expansive pro-life laws that ban nearly all abortions statewide, and 11 pro-abortion states have moved in the opposite direction. Other Republican-led states have passed narrower restrictions and regulations, and many states’ pro-life laws are temporarily on hold due to court challenges.