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Abortion rights supporters hope to amend Ohio Constitution

Abortion rights supporters protest at the Statehouse.
Ohio Public Radio

This week, abortion rights advocates submitted the text of their proposed amendment entitled The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety.

On this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss the proposal's chances of succeeding at the ballot. Dr. Sri Thakkilapati of Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom joins the show.

Abortion Access

It will be a long and difficult process to change the Ohio constitution, but supporters have submitted an amendment to enshrine an individual's right to an abortion along with other health issues including contraception and fertility treatments, as well as miscarriage care.

A key part of the amendment is determining precisely when the state would be allowed to regulate abortion. The amendment would allow the state to regulate abortion after the point of fetal viability. That’s the standard that stood as part of the Roe decision, and it is generally considered at about 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

The amendment would also allow for abortions later in pregnancy to protect the life or health of the woman.

Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis said the wording on the amendment is too vague and will eliminate restrictions on abortion. "They claim viability, but the next line says it’s up to the woman and doctor to do whatever they want to do. So at the end of the day, it does allow abortion up to the 9th month," he said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, 98% of Ohio's abortions occurred before the 19th week of pregnancy—that is before fetal viability—in 2021.

The attorney general has 10 days to determine if the ballot summary is fair and truthful. Then it goes to the ballot board for approval. If that happens, the group will then have to collect 413,000 valid voter signatures. The deadline is July 5 for the measure to make the November ballot.

Snollygoster of the week

Politicians and federal officials are blasting Norfolk Southern Railroad after the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

They all say more needs to be done to increase regulations on railroads, mandate breaking improvements, increase staffing and demand more notification. But they all had the chance to do just that and didn’t.

Former President Trump blocked safety proposals started during the Obama administration. President Biden imposed a rail workers' contract that does not include paid sick days for workers.

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