In November, Ohio voters will decide whether to amend the state Constitution to include a right to reproductive freedom. State officials said on Tuesday that the petition had culled 495,938 valid signatures across 55 counties, surpassing the requisite 413,487 signatures across 44 counties.
Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights led the initiative. The amendment would guarantee autonomy for reproductive decisions, including contraception and abortion.
To block the measure, Republican legislators planned a special election for August 8. Their ballot initiative would raise the threshold for constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60%. According to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll, just 26% of voters support this measure.
The Ohio Capital Journal reported that early voting for the August election has exceeded “even the most optimistic expectations.” Within the first seven days, more than 154,000 voters cast their ballots. The League of Women Voters of Ohio said it is “cautiously optimistic” about the early turnout and will encourage voters to weigh in “until the last moment.”
Abortion is legal in Ohio up to 21 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy. The state’s trigger law went into effect when the Dobbs decision came down last June, but a lower court has blocked the six-week ban since September.
As many states handed down prohibitive abortion laws, grassroots efforts shot forward to give voters a direct say. There were a record number of abortion ballot measures for a single year in 2022. Voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont codified abortion access in the state constitutions, and voters in Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana struck down anti-abortion measures.
Measures to protect abortion access will appear on the November 2024 ballot in New York and Maryland. Missouri and South Dakota are circulating petitions to do the same, while Florida, Iowa, Nebraska are trying to advance anti abortion measures. Pennsylvania may have an anti abortion proposal on the ballot in 2023.
The Feminist Majority Foundation is unwavering in their support of reproductive freedom and is eager to support Ohioans in their fight for abortion protections.