Latest Ballot Measure Moves Forward in Ohio to Protect Abortion Rights

March 14, 2023 : On Monday, the Ohio Ballot Board unanimously approved a proposed ballot measure that seeks to protect abortion rights until the point when a fetus is viable. The measure, which aims to amend the Ohio Constitution, asks voters to affirm that “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion.” The proposal was certified as one issue rather than multiple issues, and it is expected to appear on the ballot in November, subject to the collection of at least 413,000 valid signatures by July 5. The advocacy groups behind the proposal have said that they aim to gather at least 700,000 signatures to ensure they meet the threshold.

Ohio has previously passed a six-week abortion ban, although it is currently blocked in court. The state’s GOP-controlled legislature has also passed several abortion restrictions in the past and is moving forward with a constitutional amendment that could appear on the ballot in November, requiring at least 60% of voters to approve a ballot measure for it to succeed rather than a simple majority. Supporters of the abortion measure argue that this amendment would make it much harder to pass similar protections in 2024 or later and are seeking to get the measure on the ballot before it is potentially passed.

According to a PRRI poll conducted between March and December 2022, 66% of Ohio residents believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Efforts to approve abortion-related ballot measures are also underway in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, although they are in various stages of development. Meanwhile, Republican legislators in several states are seeking to raise the threshold for ballot measures to pass. Abortion-related measures have gained attention as a tool for protecting abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, with voters in six states considering such measures and all coming out in favour of abortion rights. Public polling suggests that most voters support abortion being at least mostly legal, even in GOP-led states, making the strategy an attractive way to harness public opinion and overcome lawmakers’ bans on abortion access.