COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Abortion is one step closer to appearing on Ohioans’ ballots in November.

The five-member Ohio Ballot Board on Monday unanimously certified an initiative to enshrine the right to abortion up to the point of fetal viability in the state constitution, allowing the citizen-led Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom to start collecting signatures to pose the question before voters in November.

Chairman of the Ohio Ballot Board, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, said the board’s role is to determine whether the initiative proposed one amendment to the state constitution and contained a “fair and truthful statement.” 

“I know that there are deeply held beliefs and strong feelings on each side of the issue … but it is not our purpose to have debates on the merits of this constitutional initiative,” LaRose said.

The constitutional amendment, titled “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety,” was authored in conjunction with several abortion rights groups, including Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio and the ACLU of Ohio. 

The initiative mimics a recently ratified constitutional amendment in Michigan and provides for the following:

  • Every Ohioan has a right to make their own reproductive decisions, including contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage and abortion
  • The State cannot burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with or discriminate against an Ohioan’s decision to exercise their reproductive rights
  • Abortion can be prohibited after fetal viability, but it cannot be prohibited if a physician deems the procedure necessary to protect the patient’s life or health
  • Fetal viability is defined as the point in a pregnancy when a physician deems the fetus has a “significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures” and is determined on a case-by-case basis

The ballot board’s approval of the initiative comes after Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost certified the initiative’s language on March 2. 

To place the issue on the November ballot, Ohioans for Reproductive must collect more than 400,000 signatures by July 5.