Ohio measure would define a preborn child as a person and ban abortions

Petition signatures have been submitted to the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine demanding a ballot initiative on amending the state constitution to completely ban abortion in the state.

The petitions call for language that would “prohibit abortion of all unborn human beings, without exception, and classify it as aggravated murder in the state of Ohio.”

To preempt common objections to personhood legislation, the amendment’s language would also make clear that it did not apply to non-abortifacient contraception, in-vitro fertilization, or procedures and treatments that function prior to fertilization.

The draft submitted to the AG’s office does not specify whether the punishment for “aggravated murder” would be limited to abortionists or also apply to women who seek abortions, but “whoever violates this section is guilty” seems to suggest that both could potentially be prosecuted.

Now begins a review process in which the number of signatures will be tallied to ensure there are enough valid, non-duplicate signatures to qualify for the ballot, as well as to ensure the proposed summary of the amendment to be placed on the ballot accurately describes it.

Should the Ohio Constitution be amended to end abortion in the state, it would potentially be subject to a lawsuit on the grounds that it violates the so-called “right to choose” imposed at the federal level by the US Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. However, that potential conflict has no bearing on whether the amendment can be put before the people in the first place.

If the amendment is approved, the earliest it can go on the ballot would be 2017.

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