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Ohio’s Expensive Abortion Rights Battle

by | Thu, Jul 13 2023

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Tens of millions of dollars will be spent on trying to sway more than eight million voters in the US state of Ohio when they decide whether to enshrine access to abortion in the state’s constitution later this year.

A coalition of reproductive rights advocates have submitted more than 700,000 signatures to ensure that  the November ballot goes ahead. That’s almost double the required number from at least half of Ohio’s 88 counties.

If approved, the proposed amendment specifies that abortion may still be prohibited after foetal viability which is around 24-weeks pregnancy. That’s two weeks longer than the current limit in Ohio which is in place because of a legal order blocking the implementation of a ‘heartbeat’ law that would ban abortions from around six-weeks. It was passed soon after last year’s landmark US Supreme Court ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade precedent and giving responsibility for abortion law to the states.

The constitutional ballot measure is designed to try to prevent the ‘heartbeat bill’ eventually taking effect.

The state’s Republican lawmakers are also attempting to make it harder to get the pro-abortion constitutional amendment passed. They’ve forced a separate ballot measure next month that seeks to raise the amendment’s approval threshold to 60% of all votes and possibly also require signatures from all 88 counties.

Both sides of the debate anticipate spending a total of more than A$75 million on their ‘Yes” and ‘No’ campaigns.