COLUMBUS- Today, State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and House Minority Whip Jessica E. Miranda (D-Forest Park) announced plans to introduce an amendment to Ohio’s Constitution to guarantee reproductive freedom to all Ohioans. The proposed amendment would ensure that Ohioans are able to obtain surgical and medical abortion services, and would codify the right to access and use over and under-the-counter contraceptive devices and medications. A companion resolution will be introduced in the Senate by Assistant Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Senator Sandra R. Williams (D-Cleveland).
The proposed constitutional amendment follows a leaked draft ruling from the Supreme Court indicating that the conservative majority will strike down Roe v. Wade in the coming months. The leaked opinion, which is not a final decision by the Court, presents a 50 year reversal on safe and legal access to abortion in the United States.
“If we don’t act to protect Ohioans’ right to bodily autonomy, Ohioans will lose the ability to control their reproductive lives,” Rep. Lepore-Hagan said. “I will not stand by and allow political extremists to take us back to a time where individuals were unable to make their own health care decisions and access the care they need in their communities. No one should be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will. I am standing up for Ohioans who deserve all the safety and benefits that come with access to birth control and legal abortions.”
“Banning access to reproductive healthcare is extreme government overreach that will put Ohioans’ lives in danger,” said Minority Whip Miranda. “As a sexual assault survivor, it makes me sick that we have to continue to fight to have control over our own bodies. A majority of Ohioans across the political spectrum support the ability to access abortion. This is not a partisan issue— all Ohioans deserve the right to make the private healthcare decisions that are best for them.”
“If the Supreme Court chooses to overturn Roe v. Wade, it will have catastrophic consequences for women across the country, millions of whom would live in states where abortion will no longer be legal or accessible,” said Senate Assistant Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio. “In overturning a woman’s right to choose, I share the concern that we will have laid a roadmap to upend other civil rights, including protections for the LGBTQ community.”
Constitutional amendments, when proposed by members of the Ohio General Assembly, require a three-fifths vote. Once passed by both the Ohio House and Senate, the language is filed with the Secretary of State. It must be received 90 days before an election before it is then placed on the ballot for Ohioans to approve or reject.
“Our proposed amendment will give the citizens of this state the opportunity to enshrine reproductive freedom in the Ohio Constitution,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “Gerrymandering and corruption have exacerbated hyper partisanship in our state, leading to extreme legislation and elected officials that do not accurately represent the needs of the people. We must allow the people, not the extreme radicals who dominate the General Assembly, to make their voices heard on this incredibly important and personal issue.”
According to a Quinnipiac poll, 61% of Ohioans agree with the Roe v. Wade decision to allow access to abortion. Despite this, Ohio Republicans have pushed several pieces of legislation to greatly restrict access to abortion, including the 6-week abortion ban signed into law by Gov. DeWine in 2019. Just last week, the Ohio House held a committee hearing on House Bill (HB) 598, an abortion “trigger” ban that would completely eliminate access to abortion in Ohio with no exceptions should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
Reproductive rights organizations around the state are also speaking up about the need to protect reproductive freedom in Ohio:
“Abortion access is a Reproductive Justice issue and the foundation of reproductive freedom. Although Justice Alito's draft has been leaked, his flagrant misinterpretation of the Constitution is not a draft of perspective but a reflection of our future reality. Ohioans have been faced with repeated attacks from anti-abortion legislators that have shown us who they are time and time again. Ohio Women's Alliance will continue to protect and support reproductive freedom and those seeking abortion access in Ohio," said Rhiannon Carnes, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director, Ohio Women’s Alliance.
“Ohioans hands down supports a person’s right to reproductive health care, including the ability to access birth control and abortion services. Attacks by the radical political minority on the right to try and erode the bodily autonomy over half of Ohio’s population is at an all-time high. But they underestimate that Ohioans will no longer stand for blatant attempts to chip away at our rights and freedoms to choose what is best for ourselves. Comprehensive reproductive healthcare – including abortion -- remains legal in Ohio, period, and we will continue to fight to make sure safe reproductive care is accessible for everyone in Ohio, including through the ballot box,” said Lauren Blauvelt-Copeland, Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Advocacy, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.
“Ohioans overwhelmingly support the right to abortion. Governor Mike DeWine, the Republican majority in the Ohio House and Senate, and now five Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have shown their utter disregard for people who need abortions and other reproductive health care services in this nation and are bowing down to the whims of white supremacists and extremists. Let’s make sure one thing is clear: Right now, Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. Abortion is legal in Ohio. But it will take a pro-choice Ohio governor, a pro-choice state legislature, and the collective action of pro-choice voters to ensure that right and that access is protected,” said Kellie Copeland, Executive Director, Pro-Choice Ohio.
“SCOTUS’ decision is blatantly a product of extremist, anti-choice rhetoric that plagues conversations about reproductive freedom. Every abortion ban, no matter the level of restriction, are tools of oppression. All abortion bans are racist, classist and dangerous. The oppression of our bodies, especially of Black and brown Ohioans is tactical, and our liberation will never be handed down in the form of a Court opinion. WHO/O will continue organizing, funding, and rallying around the framework of true Reproductive Justice, created & sustained by Black womxn,” said Jordyn Close, Board President, WHO/Ohio.