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Foes of planned Ohio abortion amendment launch effort to discourage its passage

Part of an ad placed by Protect Women Ohio, an anti-abortion coalition, that urges Ohioans to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution.
Protect Women Ohio
Protect Women Ohio
Part of an ad placed by Protect Women Ohio, an anti-abortion coalition, that urges Ohioans to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion rights in the state's constitution.

A coalition of groups that oppose abortion have launched a $5 million dollar television and digital ad campaign to try to convince Ohioans that it is a bad idea. Backers of the amendmentare getting ready to circulate petitions to put abortion rights on the ballot and if passed, in the state's constitution. Ohio Right to Life, Citizens for Christian Virtue and other groups that oppose abortion rights have formed a group called Protect Women Ohio (PWO). That entity that will be airing ads over the next four weeks while a coalition of abortion rights groups will be circulating petitions, trying to get the more than 413,388 valid signatures needed by July 5 to put the issue on the Ohio ballot in November.

The coalition bringing the proposed amendment is made up of two groups. One is Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights (OPPR), a group of doctors and health providers. The other, Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom (ORF) represents key groups like the ACLU of Ohio, ProChoice Ohio, and Planned Parenthood. Kellie Copeland, executive director of ProChoice Ohio said there has been an outpouring of support for the amendment. She said the abortion rights coalition had no problem quietly circulating the initial signatures needed for the initial stages of the process. Copeland said the group needed 1,000 valid signatures to start the process and was able to collect 7,000 signatures in just one weekend.

"Our volunteers and supporters are ready to go and are more than capable of accomplishing this task," Copeland said.

But Molly Smith, board member for Protect Women Ohio, said the ads will focus on parents rights when it comes to the ballot measure.

“Moms and dads will be cut out of the most important and life-altering decisions of their child’s life, if this passes,” said Smith.

Smith said the amendment would take away a parent's right to have a say in whether their child can "change her sex" and eliminate any current or future protections for minors to get parent consent before getting an abortion.

The amendment does not mention gender affirming surgery at all. The language of the amendment is also silent when it comes to how passage of it would affect Ohio's existing abortion laws when it comes to minors. In February, when asked whether the existing law requiring women under 18 to get parental consent or a court order before getting an abortion would be wiped out if voters approve this law, Jessie Hill, an attorney for the ACLU of Ohio, said some existing laws could remain on the books.

"When you pass a constitutional amendment, it doesn't just automatically erase everything and start over. But it would mean that laws that conflict with it cannot be enforced, should not be enforced," Hill said.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.