COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A vote to determine whether Ohioans have a constitutional right to abortion came one step closer to reality on Thursday.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost certified the proposed language for a state constitutional amendment codifying the right to abortion and other services, such as birth control and fertility treatments. This is one part of the process of getting a citizen-initiated petition onto the ballot and in front of voters.
The proposed amendment is now off to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will “determine whether it contains a single constitutional amendment or more than one,” according to Yost.
Yost received the official language last Tuesday. He wrote in his certification letter that his “personal views on abortion are publicly known,” but that ballot initiative language certification is part of his duty as attorney general, politics aside.
The two campaigns that submitted it — Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Protect Choice Ohio — first announced unconnected plans on the same day in mid-December to effort a constitutional amendment for abortion rights. At the time, they cited diverging intended timelines as a reason for not working together.
But in mid-February, they jointly announced they would work in tandem moving forward. The idea was to mimic a recently-ratified constitutional amendment in Michigan, according to an earlier news release. Michiganders voted 56.66% to 43.34% on that amendment in November 2022.
Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom includes eight organizations:
- The ACLU of Ohio
- Abortion Fund Ohio
- New Voices for Reproductive Justice
- Ohio Women’s Alliance
- Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio
- Pro-Choice Ohio
- Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity
Protect Choice Ohio is led by a collective of doctors called Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights.
In a statement Thursday, Ohio Right to Life Chief Executive Officer Peter Range called the amendment dangerous and “extreme.” President Mike Gonidakis said in a December interview with NBC4 that anti-abortion organizations across the state would publicly advocate heavily against it.
“We will lead and orchestrate the largest grassroots initiative, mark my words, in Ohio’s history to defeat whatever it is they put on the ballot,” Gonidakis said.
If the Ohio Ballot Board certifies the language, Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom is tasked with collecting more than 400,000 signatures by July 5 for the proposal to appear on the November election ballot.