COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Attorney General’s Office approved summary language Thursday in a petition to enshrine abortion rights in Ohio’s state constitution, advancing the closely watched amendment to its next step.
Republican Attorney General Dave Yost determined that the summary submitted by a pair of abortion rights groups is a fair and truthful representation of the proposed change to Ohio law. Yost said that a certification of the summary is being sent to the Secretary of State's Office.
Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom have a goal of placing the constitutional amendment on November ballots. It would assure access to abortion through what is called viability, when the fetus is able to survive outside the womb. It would protect caregivers from being punished for performing the procedure or aiding the process.
Yost has defended Ohio's near-ban on abortions, which a judge has blocked while a related lawsuit proceeds.
“My personal views on abortion are publicly known,” Yost wrote in the certification letter. “In this matter, I am constrained by duty to rule upon a narrow question, not to use the authority of my office to effect a good policy, or to impede a bad one.”
The state's powerful anti-abortion forces have vowed to fight the measure, with the cost to each side expected to be more than $30 million.
“We look forward to exposing the dangers of this extreme amendment being pushed on Ohio by the abortion industry,” Peter Range, the CEO of Ohio Right to Life, said in an emailed statement. He said the measure would hinder safety protections for women, as well as parental rights.
The proposal goes next to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will have 10 days to clear the ballot language.
That will kick off what promises to be a labor-intensive signature-gathering phase. Under Ohio law, the groups must collect 413,446 signatures — 10% of the votes in the last governor's race — statewide, across at least 44 of Ohio's 88 counties. Their deadline to make the Nov. 7 ballot is July 5.