Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dodd decision last summer overruling Roe v. Wade our gerrymandered state legislature has passed legislation intended to make it impossible for a woman to obtain an abortion in Ohio for any reason.
When asked why abortions are being banned even for rape victims, one of our Clermont County legislators said publicly that a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape has been given an “opportunity.”
There are groups working to put an issue on the ballot to amend our Ohio Constitution to give women a state constitutional right to obtain an abortion in some circumstances if the woman chooses to do so. This effort has now passed a critical second step. The Ohio Attorney General has approved the language that these groups want to put on the ballot for voters to read. In Ohio, the actual language of the proposed constitutional amendment does not go on the ballot. Instead, a summary is placed on the ballot for voters to read.
You may read both the proposed summary and the text of the proposed amendment as a PDF download. The following link will provide a PDF download of the summary titled The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety. Here is the link to download the PDF.
Adding this proposed amendment to our state constitution is important to protect the rights of Ohio women. The next step is the proposed amendment goes to the State Ballot Board. This Board determines whether the proposed amendment may go on the ballot as a single issue or must be broken into multiple ballot issues. That decision matters greatly because it could double or triple the number of petition signatures needed to put the question of protecting women’s bodily autonomy on the ballot for Ohioans.
Assuming that the Ballot Board approves the proposed constitutional amendment as a single ballot issue, petition signatures must then be collected to get the issue on the ballot, a lot of signatures. The minimum requirement is signatures from a number of registered Ohio voters equal to 10% of the vote cast in last year’s gubernatorial election, or 413,488 valid signatures statewide. Of course, not every petition signature will be valid. A rough rule of thumb is that, to get an issue or candidate on the ballot, you want to submit about twice as many petition signatures as are required. In other words, for this issue, almost 827,000 signatures.
The statewide signature requirement is not the only hurdle to getting the Reproductive Rights amendment on the ballot. Ohio law also requires that those 400,000+ signatures include valid signatures from at least 44 counties in numbers equal to five percent of the vote cast in that county for governor in 2022. In Clermont County, this minimum number of signatures is 4,022. Again, using the rule of thumb, 8,044 signatures from registered Clermont County voters should be gathered to be reasonably confident of meeting the five percent county requirement. As of last November, Clermont County had 145,532 registered voters. So, only six percent of Clermont County registered voters need to sign the petitions. Easy, right?
There is another hurdle. As we know, the Republicans in Columbus want to make it virtually impossible for citizens to amend the Ohio Constitution. A constitutional amendment intended to end citizen initiated constitutional amendments has been proposed and may be on the November ballot. That creates pressure to get the Reproductive Rights amendment on the ballot this November so it is not subject to the new rules intended to prevent such amendments from ever reaching the ballot. What’s the issue? November is eight months away. Not really. In order for the Reproductive Rights amendment to go on the November ballot, petitions with at least the minimum numbers of valid signatures must be submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State by July 5, 2023. The gathering of petition signatures cannot begin until the Ballot Board acts. Assuming the Ballot Board approves the Reproductive Rights amendment as a single ballot issue by mid-March, that will allow only about three and a half months to collect the hundreds of thousands of needed signatures.
Polls have shown that a strong majority of Ohioans support a woman’s right to choose as that right was recognized in Roe v. Wade. Eliminating that right is, however, a top priority for the Republicans who run our state. Therefore, a state constitutional amendment is the only way to protect this right which most Ohioans support. There will not be much time, but the needed signatures must be gathered to get this issue on the ballot. The Ohio and Clermont County Democratic Parties will be involved in this effort. Watch this newsletter and our website, https://clermontdems.org, for information on how you can help. You can also find information on the website of the coalition that is leading the effort to get reproductive rights on the ballot, protectchoiceohio.com. Ohio needs your help to get this done.
Learn how to circulate petitions and help Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom effort to get this Constitutional amendment on the ballot to #ProtectChoiceOhio SIGN UP FOR TRAINING HERE
I typically pay no attention to the CPAC convention which occurs every winter. CPAC is a far-right political action committee that is quite influential on the Republican Party. Even our own Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, spoke at the CPAC convention. Presumably, he again tried to walk the tightrope of saying he is doing an outstanding job as Ohio’s chief elections officer while also feeding the myth that we suffer from massive vote fraud.
What caught my attention about the CPAC convention which just ended was a clip I heard from donald trump’s speech. Of course, it is not surprising that trump spoke at CPAC. However, the segment of his speech which made the news program I heard was his declaration that, when he is re-elected President in 2024, he will get “revenge” against those who oppose him. A man who has serves as U.S. President and wants that job again publicly declaring that he wants “revenge” against other Americans? What has our nation come to?
 As noted in this column before, the use of initial capital letters in a person’s name was originally intended as a sign of respect. The person named in this sentence deserves no respect.