WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04: Pro-choice activists demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on October 04, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court's new term, which started today is expected to take up contentious issues including an abortion rights case that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

BY: SUSAN TEBBEN – Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio House legislators say the intend to flip the legislative narrative in the state, pushing for a state constitutional amendment legalizing abortion in opposition to the many bans being considered.

State Reps. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, and Jessica Miranda, D-Forest Park, face a hard fight to get the measure through a General Assembly currently encompassed by a Republican supermajority, and one that has introduced multiple “trigger” bans that, if passed, would take effect in the event the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is overturned or changed.

Under the amendment, which would be voted on by Ohioans if passed by the House and Senate, surgical and medical abortion services would be cemented into the Ohio Revised Code, along with contraceptives.

The representatives said the attempt at an amendment came after a draft ruling from U.S. Justice Samuel Alito implied a future ruling that could limit or eliminate abortion legality nationwide. The opinion, though not the final opinion of the court, “presents a 50-year reversal on safe and legal access to abortion in the United States,” Lepore-Hagan and Miranda stated in announcing their proposed amendment.

“I will not stand by and allow political extremists to take us back to a time where individuals were unable to make their own health care decisions and access the care they need in their communities,” Lepore-Hagan said in a statement. “No one should be forced to carry a pregnancy against their will.”

A constitutional amendment requires a three-fifths vote of the legislature for passage, and has to be received 90 days before an election to be placed on the ballot.

A companion resolution is also planned in the state Senate, led by state Sens. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood and Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland. Success in the Senate would depend on Republican support, just as a win in the House would.

“In overturning a woman’s right to choose, I share the concern that we will have laid a roadmap to upend other civil rights, including protections for the LGBTQ community,” Antonio wrote in her own statement.

Sponsors of the amendment are still in the process of gathering co-sponsors, and drafting bill language, after which it will be formally introduced and moved to a committee.

SUSAN TEBBEN Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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