Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade last summer, abortion access in Ohio has been hanging in the balance. After the Supreme Court decision, a 6 week ban on abortion went into immediate effect throughout the state. The ban is currently on hold by an Ohio judge and pro-choice groups are working to protect abortion access in the state once and for all.
The Protect Choice Ohio Coalition has filed paperwork for a ballot initiative on abortion for the November 2023 elections. The activists will need to collect more than 400,000 signatures from a minimum of 44 counties in order to qualify to be on the ballot. The measure would establish “a fundamental right to reproductive freedom” with “reasonable limits” in the Ohio state constitution and would require “restrictions imposed past a fetus’ viability outside the womb to be based on evidence of patient health and safety benefits.”
The pro-choice coalition is composed of organizations such as Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights (OPRR), Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. The Feminist Majority has partnered with OPRR to assist in the signature collection. OPRR has organized more than 2,200 physicians and medical professionals to fight “to guarantee that Ohioans have access to safe, legal, and equitable reproductive medical care, including abortion.” Dr. Lauren Beene, the executive director, has said that the ballot measure will “preserve the doctor-patient relationship and empower all people to make their own reproductive health care decisions without interference from the government, lobbyists and politicians.”
This strategy of advocating for a ballot initiative to protect abortion rights has proven successful in many other states. In 2022, Kansas shocked the country by overwhelmingly voting to reject an anti-choice ballot measure. Using this momentum, activists in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont secured abortion protections for their states in the midterm elections as well. The Feminist Majority is confident that Ohio will see the same result.
If you are interested in helping Protect Choice Ohio gather signatures, find more information here: https://protectchoiceohio.com/guidelines.
Sources: The Guardian 2/21/23; AP 2/21/23; Protect Choice Ohio