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Two groups plan to bring abortion rights issue to Ohio ballot

The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.
Ryan Hitchcock

After the Dobbs decision came down this summer, abortion rights supporters in Ohio turned their attention to the ballot. On this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss why a voter-approved change to the state constitution seems like the only way to restore abortion access.

The Pro-Choice Plan

With a legislature and governor firmly opposed to abortion rights, going straight to the voters may be the only feasible way forward for advocates.

Two groups have come forward with plans to go to the ballot. A physician's group, Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Freedom, announced it wants to put the question on this November's ballot. Another coalition of abortion providers and their allies, Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, also plan a ballot campaign, but are looking at 2024.

Sixty Percent

The effort to move the threshold for ballot issues up to 60% for approval didn't get enough support to pass in the lame-duck session.

Meanwhile, State Rep. Brian Stewart wrote his colleagues that this 60% threshold was designed specifically to thwart efforts to guarantee abortion rights in the Constitution and to kill efforts to stop gerrymandering.

Apparently, some conservative Republicans were not too fond of the new threshold. Some are looking to change the Constitution to ban vaccine mandates and health emergency shutdowns. It would be hard to get 60% of the vote for those measures.

Opponents also contend it was unnecessary: Voters amended the Constitution in 2015 to prevent initiative petitions from being used to grant a monopoly or other special commercial economic interests.

Snollygoster of the week

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O’Connor has to leave the court this year. She’s had quite the career as an elected official, serving in statewide office longer than any woman in Ohio history.

This week dignitaries from both parties—including former Governors Taft and Kasich—gathered to honor O’Connor at the Supreme Court.

But you know who wasn’t there? O’Connor’s fellow Supreme Court Justices Pat DeWine and Sharon Kennedy.

If you have a suggestion for our Snollygoster of the Week award, a question or a comment, send them to snollygoster@wosu.org.