Ohio Attorney General certifies petition language for abortion ballot initiative

Proposal then moves to Ohio Ballot Board before signatures can be collected.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office on Thursday certified the summary petition for a ballot issue that would seek to ensure access to abortion.

The ballot issue, if passed, would create an amendment to the state constitution. The next step is for the proposal to go to the Ohio Ballot Board. The board will determine whether it contains a single constitutional amendment or more than one.

The proposed amendment would state 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.”

If the ballot board certifies the proposal, the petitioners must then collect signatures from registered voters equal to at least 10% of the vote cast in the most recent gubernatorial election. Those signatures must come from voters in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and for each of those counties, the number must equal at least 5% of the vote cast in the most recent gubernatorial election.

If sufficient signatures are verified by the Ohio Secretary of State at least 65 days before the election, the full text of the proposed amendment will be placed on the ballot in the regular or general election that occurs subsequent to 125 days after the filing of the petition.

Groups seeking to place the citizen initiative on the November ballot, including Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, filed language for the proposed amendment to the Ohio Attorney General on Feb. 21 with the goal of getting the ballot initiative before voters on the November election.

Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights previously estimated they will have to secure over 400,000 signatures to have the initiative placed on the November ballot. The group also estimated it will cost between $2 million to $6 million to do so. The campaign promoting the initiative to voters is expected to cost $20 million and 30 million, and organizers said they expect funding to come from both inside and outside Ohio.

The attorney general’s office on Thursday said its sole role in the petition process is to determine whether the language submitted by the petitioners is a fair and truthful summary of the proposed statute.

The full text of the certification letter and the petition can be found at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/Petitions.

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