Abortion rights advocates in Ohio have officially secured enough signatures to put an amendment protecting abortion on the ballot in November.
Republicans are doing everything they can to prevent Ohioans from enshrining the right to abortion in the state constitution, but reproductive rights advocates cleared one hurdle on Tuesday. They were required to submit 413,487 signatures from 44 counties to ensure the measure would be on the ballot.
They officially submitted 495,938 signatures from 55 counties, certifying that the measure will go up for a vote in November.
Abortion is currently legal in Ohio until about 22 weeks, although not for lack of GOP efforts. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, a trigger law went into effect in Ohio that banned abortion after six weeks, before people even know they are pregnant. That law has been temporarily blocked.
The constitutional amendment would allow people to decide for themselves about all reproductive health, including contraception, fertility treatments, continuing or terminating a pregnancy, and miscarriage treatment. The state could only restrict abortion access after a doctor determines the fetus is viable, or could survive outside the uterus. And even then, abortions can be performed if the patient’s health or life is at risk.
Ohio currently requires only a simple majority of votes to amend the constitution. But Republicans have decided to pull out all the stops in their attempt to block the abortion amendment. So first, Ohioans will vote in August on a measure that would raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote.
Although GOP lawmakers insist the move is not about abortion, Secretary of State Frank LaRose gave the game away in June, saying, “This is 100 percent about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.”
But all their work may still fall short. A USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll released last week found that only 26 percent of Ohio voters support increasing the amount of votes needed to amend the constitution, while 57 percent oppose it.
Another poll, released Monday by the same organizations, found that 58 percent of Ohioans support the amendment to guarantee access to reproductive services, while just 32 percent oppose it. The support crosses party lines, with a third of Republicans backing the amendment, as well as 85 percent of independent women—a crucial demographic.
This is unsurprising for anyone who has actually been paying attention. Every time abortion rights are on the ballot, people vote to increase protections, not take them away. And despite Republicans’ best efforts, abortion rights keep winning.