An initiative to make abortion a constitutional right in Ohio has cleared the Ohio Ballot Board and will begin gathering signatures.
The proposal, called the Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety, would go much further than just making abortion a constitutional right. It would also ban nearly all restrictions on abortion, both for adults and for minors, overturn parental consent and notification laws, and make late-term abortion essentially unlimited.
The broadly-worded and vague phrasing in the proposal specifically leaves open room for even more interpretation; “reproductive decisions” in the proposal are defined as including, but not limited to, contraception, fertility treatment, continuing a pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion. The proposal does allow for abortions to be limited after fetal viability, but also said doctors can choose to override this restriction if it is necessary for the mother’s “health.”
Before being sent to the Ohio Ballot Board, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost approved the language of the amendment.
A coalition of abortion groups, such as Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, Planned Parenthood, and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights are behind the initiative. And they’ve already begun training volunteers to collect signatures.
“We expect to have a very robust volunteer effort, based on everything we know and we’ve seen so far,” Jeff Rusnak, a media strategist, told Cleveland.com. “The energy and enthusiasm is at a level that we’ve never seen before in a campaign.”
The initiative needs to gather 412,500 valid signatures before July 5 in order for it to be placed on the ballot on November.
However, another campaign has begun in opposition. Protect Women Ohio (PWO) has pledged to spend $5 million fighting back against the amendment. “Moms and dads will be cut out of the most important and life-altering decisions of their child’s life, if this passes,” Molly Smith, a PWO board member, said in a press release. “This extreme amendment eliminates any current or future protections for minors requiring parents be notified and consent before their child undergoes a procedure like an abortion or sex change surgery. Ohioans must vote ‘no’ on this dangerous proposal.”
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