On Feb. 21, two abortion rights groups, Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights; filed the “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety” amendment to the Ohio Constitution in hopes it’ll appear on the November 2023 ballot.
If passed, the amendment would protect Ohians’ reproductive decisions without penalty from the state, including the right to abortion. The amendment states: “Every 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 amendment would also protect the use of contraception in Ohio. Previously, State Representative, Jean Schmidt, has stated that she would consider banning birth control.
From the date of filing, the Ohio attorney general has 10 days to approve the language of the amendment before it can move to the Ohio Ballot Board.
Once the amendment is filed, 413,488 signatures will be necessary before July 5, 2023 for it to appear on the ballot in November 2023.
“Now that we have taken this critical first step in the process we are eager to begin collecting the signatures needed to place the amendment on the ballot so Ohioans, rather than government and extremist politicians, have the opportunity to determine the future of reproductive health care in our state.” OPRR president Dr. Marcela Azevedo said in a statement.
In June of 2022, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the United States Supreme Court, which federally protected the right to abortion. Following this, Ohio Governor Mike Dewine passed the “heartbeat bill” into law which banned abortion at six weeks of gestion, a point in which pregnant individuals are unlikely to know they’re pregnant.
However, Hamilton county judge, Christian Jenkins blocked the “heartbeat bill” indefinitely in January 2023 after a lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, ACLU of Ohio and other Ohio reproductive healthcare clinics.
“Abortion is safe health care to which Ohioans have a right” Jenkins said in a statement. Currently in Ohio, abortion is legal up to 22 weeks of gestion.
Even still, abortion status in Ohio is likely to change as Ohio Attorney General, David Yost, seeks to appeal this decision.
“Ohioans are perilously close to losing access to safe, legal, comprehensive reproductive medical care,” OPRR executive director Dr. Lauren Beene said in a statement, “As we saw first-hand when Ohio’s abortion ban went into effect last year, withholding that care puts people’s lives and health at risk. This common sense amendment ensures that physicians will be able to provide the care our patients need and deserve free from government interference.”