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Ohio Attorney General certifies proposed language for abortion rights constitutional amendment

Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Abortion rights advocates during one of many protests at the Ohio Statehouse

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has certified the summary language on petitions submitted by groups advocating for reproductive rights.

Yost made it clear in a letter that accompanied the certification that he did not personally agree with the intent of the proposed amendment. But he said the summary language is "a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment." However, Yost said he believed "there are significant problems with the proposed amendment, and if adopted, it will not end the long-running litigation on this topic, but simply transform it."

When asked about Yost's comments, Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio, said "he'll get to vote on this measure just like every other Ohioan and that's where his input is appropriate." Copeland is working with the coalition of doctors and abortion rights advocates bringing the petition.
She said she's pleased the summary language has been approved and the first step of the process is complete. And she said she thinks many Ohioans are want the opportunity to vote for this amendment.

"As we demonstrated just ten days ago, we collected a record number of signatures in a record amount of time," Copeland said.

Copeland said the group needed 1,000 valid signatures to start the process and was able to collect 7,000 signatures in just one weekend.

"Our volunteers and supporters are ready to go and are more than capable of accomplishing this task," Copeland said.

Supporters of the amendment will have to collect nearly 414,000 valid signatures by July 5 to get the issue on the November ballot. But first, they'll have to get their petition okayed by the Ohio Ballot Board. That panel will determine if the petition should remain as one issue or be separated into parts. That board is expected to meet to consider the petition soon.

After learning the coalition cleared this first hurdle today, Ohio Right to Life's Chief Executive Officer, Peter Range, said the organization looks forward to exposing "the dangers of this
"extreme amendment being pushed on Ohio by the abortion industry."

"If passed, it would cancel parental rights and measures in place to protect young girls; basic health and safety protections for women would be wiped out; and it would make Ohio home to painful late-term abortions right up until birth," Range said.

Ohio currently allows abortion until 22 weeks into a pregnancy. Last summer, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a ban was in place that outlawed abortion as soon as fetal electronic cardiac activity is detected. That could happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Over the summer, doctors complained they couldn't properly treat patients with problem pregnancies and difficult situations made headlines. A ten-year-old rape victim had to go to Indiana to get an abortion during that time. But in October, a Hamilton County Court set that law aside, saying it was too vague. The state is appealing that decision to the Ohio Supreme Court which now is thought to tilt favorably in the state's direction since three justices who have gone on record as being against legal abortion were elected in November. Backers of this amendment fear the court could outlaw abortion in Ohio altogether. That's why they said this amendment is needed to protect the right of Ohioans to get abortion, miscarriage care and birth control.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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