Backers Of Ohio Abortion Rights Amendment Say They Have Enough Signatures For Ballot

But another measure could complicate the amendment's passage this November.

Advocates for abortion rights in Ohio say they’ve submitted nearly twice the number of signatures required to put a measure on the ballot enshrining abortion access in the state’s constitution.

Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the umbrella group behind the effort, submitted more than 700,000 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, which will now determine whether at least 413,487 of those signatures are legitimate. If enough are valid, voters will decide on the matter in Ohio’s general election in November.

“Today, we take a huge step forward in the fight for abortion access and reproductive freedom for all, to ensure that Ohioans and their families can make their own health care decisions without government interference,” Lauren Blauvelt and Kellie Copeland of Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, one of the groups behind OURR, said in a statement when they submitted signatures Wednesday.

The founders of Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, the other group behind OURR, said Wednesday that the effort to get the amendment on the ballot began last summer shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, upending abortion access around the country after nearly 50 years of protections.

“Today, the message we and they are sending is loud and clear: ‘let the people decide,’” founders Dr. Lauren Beene and Dr. Marcela Azevedo said in a statement.

Voters have turned out in support of abortion rights in other conservative strongholds following the fall of Roe. Voters in Kansas, a state that the Republican presidential nominee has won in every election since 1968, voted overwhelmingly last August to keep abortion protections in their state constitution. Then, last November, voters in deep red Kentucky rejected a ballot measure denying constitutional protections for abortion.

Voters in swing state Michigan and deep blue California also approved ballot measures in last November’s election codifying abortion rights in each state’s constitution.

But passage could soon become trickier in Ohio. In August, the state’s residents will vote on a Republican-backed ballot measure that seeks to raise the threshold for passing constitutional amendments from a simple majority to a 60% majority, which has proven hard to reach even in bluer states. Michigan’s amendment passed with around 57% of the vote, and Kansas protected its amendment with around 59% support.

The measure’s main sponsor, Republican Ohio state Rep. Brian Stewart, defended the effort to raise the threshold during a floor debate in May.

“If any outside group believes its ideas are worthy of inclusion in Ohio’s constitution, then they should be able to earn the widespread public support that a 60% vote margin will require,” he said.

Abortion is currently banned in Ohio after 22 weeks of pregnancy.

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