Ohio Groups Join Forces to File Language Placing Reproductive Freedom Amendment on the November 2023 Ballot

COLUMBUS, OH — Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights today announced they have joined forces to file language with the Ohio Attorney General to place a citizen-initiated Constitutional amendment to restore and protect reproductive rights and abortion access on the November 2023 statewide general election ballot.

“The people of Ohio overwhelmingly support abortion access and keeping the government out of our personal lives,” said Lauren Blauvelt from Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom. “This citizen-led amendment will do just that: through our deep community partnerships and long history of protecting reproductive freedom and providing access to healthcare, this campaign puts the power back in the hands of the people of Ohio, so everyone has the freedom to prevent, continue, or end a pregnancy should they decide.”

“This powerful group of patients, experts in reproductive rights, health and justice leaders, grassroots advocates, and doctors is standing up for the health of Ohioans and against the extremist politicians who want the government to interfere in patients’ medical decisions,” said Kellie Copeland from Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom. “This grassroots initiative—by and for the people of Ohio—is foundational to ensuring access to abortion and the right to bodily autonomy, not only for ourselves, but for generations to come.”

“We are united in purpose and by the belief that placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2023 is both a moral imperative and offers the best prospects for success,” said Dr. Lauren Beene, Executive Director of Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, which launched Protect Choice Ohio, its grassroots network. “The lives and health of Ohioans have been at risk since Roe was overturned. That is why we must seize the earliest possible opportunity to ensure that doctors and patients, rather than politicians and the government, are empowered to make decisions about pregnancy, contraception, and abortion.”

“Organizations from across the political spectrum have come together uniting advocates and physicians to ensure this makes it on the ballot in 2023,” said Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights President Dr. Marcela Azevedo.

The amendment, jointly drafted by Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom and Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, and aligned reproductive rights, health and justice groups, will be similar to a constitutional amendment approved by Michigan voters last November and would give Ohioans the right to reproductive freedom including abortion. Subsequent to reviews and approvals by the Attorney General and the Ohio Ballot Board, volunteers will begin circulating petitions across Ohio to obtain the required valid signatures of registered voters to place the issue on the ballot.

The organizations bring a tremendous and unprecedented array of resources to this non-partisan campaign. Both groups have recruited a large corps of volunteers eager to begin circulating petitions in communities across the state. Both are advised by highly experienced legal counsel, public opinion researchers, and strategic and communications consultants.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom hires Mission Control Inc. a general consult for campaign to secure explicit abortion access in state constitution

OHIO – Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom has retained Mission Control, Inc., to be the General Consultant to oversee campaign strategy for the initiative to place a measure on the ballot to amend the Ohio Constitution to explicitly protect reproductive freedom for all Ohioans. Mission Control, Inc., was most recently involved with successful campaigns in Kansas and Kentucky, where anti-abortion efforts were soundly defeated in the 2022 election cycle. Mission Control, Inc., brings an unparalleled depth of knowledge and valued experience to Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, and their expertise will foster a winning, sustainable campaign.

The campaign has completed initial language drafting and is now moving into comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research and message testing, with a plan to file language with the Ohio Attorney General’s office before the end of February.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom is thrilled to announce this partnership and are confident that Mission Control will complement the grassroots work and power building our organizations have been doing for decades. We are committed to a broad-tent, large and diverse coalition, prioritizing deep community partnerships that are grounded in the sacred work of protecting reproductive freedom for the communities most impacted by bans and barriers to legal and local abortion care, namely Black and Brown Ohioans, low-income Ohioans, rural Ohioans, LGBTQ+ Ohioans, and Ohioans with disabilities,” added J. Bennett Guess, spokesperson for Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom takes this once-in-a-decade responsibility incredibly seriously; our strategy and timing will continue to be rooted in research, polling and data with the support of local, state, and national organizations. We are working expeditiously and prudently because we know that skipping steps or rushing the process would be a reckless approach when the stakes are so high,” added Erin Scott, spokesperson for Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom.

“Our desired outcome: an impactive win for the over 20,000 people annually in Ohio who need abortions. As the proverb says: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Our campaign puts people first,” added Kellie Copeland, spokesperson for Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom.

“The Dobbs decision dealt a major blow to human rights in our country. In 2022, we were energized by our victories in Kansas and Kentucky, which proved that protecting reproductive freedom at the state level is the key first step to building back our power. We were proud to be part of the teams that defeated those oppressive initiatives, and we’re thrilled to be joining Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom to build a robust campaign that will explicitly and permanently protect the reproductive rights of all Ohioans,” offered Leticia Martinez, Principal for Mission Control, Inc.

Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom is a coalition formed by the ACLU of Ohio, Abortion Fund of Ohio, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Preterm-Cleveland, Pro-Choice Ohio, and URGE. Donations to the campaign can be made here.

Introducing Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom

Ohio – Today the coalition, Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, issued a press statement to introduce a ballot exploration committee, formed by the ACLU of Ohio, Abortion Fund Ohio, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Preterm-Cleveland, Pro-Choice Ohio, and URGE, to make abortion access explicit in the State Constitution. Collectively, these organizations represent Ohioans from across the state and key constituencies, including frontline providers, abortion funds, young people, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and decades of deep investment in Ohio community, care, and power.

The reproductive rights, health, and justice organizations are trusted institutions that have been working in partnership for decades to protect and expand abortion access and have formed an official partnership to get a measure on the ballot that would amend the Ohio Constitution to explicitly protect reproductive freedom for all. Planned Parenthood has served Ohioans’ for more than one hundred years, and collectively this coalition has provided abortion care with respect and dignity for hundreds of thousands of people, and has a network of over a million Ohioans across the state.

A campaign timeline has not yet been announced, the organizations are working as expeditiously and strategically as possible to identify the proper timing, while also realizing this is a precious opportunity that must be thoughtfully executed. The campaign is prepared to launch the effort as early as November 2023, but are also realistically contending with House Joint Resolution 6, Secretary Frank LaRose’s anti-democratic proposal raising the threshold for passing citizen-initiated state constitutional amendments to 60%. Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom are confident that this effort is in direct opposition to what the people of Ohio want and are prepared to defeat the resolution should it be on the May 2023 ballot. The organizations are calling the proposal an egregious power-grab that directly attacks our democratic process.

Below are statements from leaders of the organizations representing Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom:

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio — Vice President of Government Affairs Lauren Blauvelt Copelin: “Ohio’s elected leaders need to stop ignoring the demands of the people they claim to represent and protect. The people of Ohio overwhelmingly support access to abortion and deserve the fundamental right to comprehensive health care. But Ohio’s leaders continue to ignore the will of Ohioans, introduce barriers to healthcare and erode people’s abilities to exercise their democratic voices. This must end. We’ve seen when the American people are given the chance, they vote for their bodies, for their lives and for their futures, they vote to protect abortion. We know Ohioans will do the same. In coalition with our partners throughout the state, we will make sure our patients and communities remain our highest priority.”

Pro-Choice Ohio — Executive Director, Kellie Copeland: “Ohioans must be able to make our own reproductive health care decisions without political interference because abortions are not political; they are an important safety net that safeguards the wellbeing of all. When politics intrude on healthcare, medical decisions are made for us without our consent. Ohio politicians have forced people to continue pregnancies against their will to the detriment of their physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. This is unacceptable. Ohioans cherish our basic human rights. We will stand up against attacks on our right to vote and amend our state constitution. We will ensure abortion access for ourselves and future generations by enshrining reproductive freedom in the Ohio Constitution.”

Ohio Women’s Alliance — Co-Executive Director, Rhiannon Carnes: “Reproductive rights in Ohio have remained under attack for the past 30 years while anti-Black, anti-choice politicians have had control of the Ohio legislature, chipping away at support for maternal health and community health resources, including abortion access. Along with the majority of people throughout the country, the majority of Ohioans support access to abortion, and we will not allow harmful extremist ideologies to put Ohio families in a box for personal political gain. Ohio Women’s Alliance is proud to join this coalition of dynamic leaders to continue our fight to protect our right to self-determination on how, when, and whether or not Ohioans choose to parent.”

ACLU of Ohio — Executive Director, J. Bennett Guess: “To make sure we are never again at the mercy of changing courts, we must pass a referendum to expressly secure the right to reproductive freedom in our state constitution. Our approach will be inclusive, non-partisan, data-driven, research-informed and rooted in compassion. We know that Ohioans support abortion access and that we have a clear pro-choice majority of voters. This campaign will be led by and for the people of Ohio.”

Preterm — Interim Executive Director, Dr. Sri Thakkilapati: “Our coalition will go to the ballot to ensure that people can access abortion care in Ohio. The vast majority of Ohioans support abortion as a fundamental right. As a trusted, independent abortion provider, we know that people from every corner of the state, from every community, need abortion care. The power to make this decision must be in the hands of pregnant people and their care providers. This ballot measure will realize the will of the people and enshrine reproductive freedoms in the Ohio Constitution.”

Abortion Fund of Ohio — Interim Executive Director Maggie Scotece: “Ohioans have made it clear: We deserve the right to safe and legal abortion access. Thousands have relied on abortion to care for themselves, their families, and their communities, and thousands more will need access in the future. This grassroots initiative—by and for the people of Ohio—is foundational to ensuring the right to bodily autonomy, not only for ourselves, but for generations to come.”

New Voices for Reproductive Justice — Executive Director, Kelly Davis: “Attacks on Reproductive Justice and abortion are ever increasing nationally and in Ohio. The vast majority of Americans want abortion to remain legal. However, those in power seeking to restrict abortion will attempt to silence this majority unless we fight back. A ballot initiative in Ohio would be pivotal to ensuring birthing people have access to necessary medical care, an important first step in our fight against archaic abortion restrictions no matter what digressive action elected officials attempt to make.”

Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equality — Executive Director Kimberly Inez McGuire: “Young people in Ohio deserve all the fruits of reproductive justice: to make decisions about family and pregnancy without politicians interfering, to enjoy safe and healthy lives, and to thrive. We are joining together to build a statewide powerhouse that will ensure durable and transformative access to abortion care, keeping BIPOC young people at the center.”

The organizations will soon launch a campaign website with information about how volunteers and organizations can plug into the movement. Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom is in conversation with Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights on language and policy decisions and will have more to share in the coming weeks.

Pro-Choice Ohio reaction to 2022 general election results

Akron — With Ohio election polls closed and most results in, Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland released the following statement:

“Tonight’s outcome was difficult, but the work continues. We will never stop fighting for the 10-year-old girl who was raped and had to leave Ohio to have an abortion. Or for the woman who wanted an abortion but is now carrying a pregnancy against her will because she was unable to leave the state. Or the trans person who wants to have a child, but is afraid they won’t be able to get the care they need in Ohio if they face a pregnancy complication. We will build an Ohio where everyone can make their own reproductive health care decisions. Ohioans deserve a state where everyone who needs an abortion for any reason can get one safely, legally, and locally without stigma, shame or political interference.

“We are so grateful that voters elected Emilia Sykes, our first endorsed candidate for federal office, and former Pro-Choice Ohio intern, to Congress. She is an expert in public health and has long been a reproductive justice champion. She ran an incredible campaign. Her victory is a shining star on an otherwise dark night.

“I am also extremely proud of our endorsed candidates, like Nan Whaley and Cheryl Stephens, because they bravely challenged the most callous and corrupt politicians in Ohio history. They stayed the course and never wavered.”

Pro-Choice Ohio is one of several groups keeping an eye on the post-election legislative session and the possibility of a new abortion ban bill being brought forward in the remaining weeks of 2022.

On lame duck, Copeland said: “Anti-choice politicians are planning to once again ban abortion and impose the cruelty of forced birth on Ohioans, despite witnessing the way we suffered before a court temporarily blocked the six-week ban. We are working to mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to tell their state legislators ‘We will not go back, not now, and never again.’”

Every candidate endorsed by our organization was screened by our staff and approved by the Pro-Choice Ohio board. Find the full list on our website: https://prochoiceohio.org/endorsements/


Ohioans relieved that abortion access is restored

Cincinnati — Today, Hamilton County Court Judge Christian Jenkins granted the request from Ohio’s abortion providers for a preliminary injunction to keep Ohio’s abortion ban blocked indefinitely. Clinics are again allowed to continue to provide essential, time sensitive-abortion services to patients across Ohio and from neighboring states through 22 weeks gestation.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland stated: “This is a victory for patients and the physicians who serve them, both in Ohio and from neighboring states. This ruling is sorely needed to protect the lives and well-being of people who need access to abortion. It will save lives. No longer are Ohio doctors being forced by Governor Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost to send their patients out of state for health care they need. Patients who cannot travel for care must always be able to access abortion in their home state, with all the dignity they deserve.

“There is little doubt that this case will make its way before the Supreme Court of Ohio. It is imperative that justices on our state’s highest court respect the fundamental human rights in our state constitution. They cannot be permitted to impose their personal agenda on Ohioans from the bench. We must elect principled and ethical justices: Justice Jennifer Brunner, Judge Marilyn Zayas, and Judge Terri Jamison. Based on their behavior in office, we know that current court Justices Pat DeWine, Pat Fischer, and Sharon Kennedy have demonstrated that they are puppets for Mike DeWine and Ohio Republicans, and are unfit to serve.”

Pro-Choice Ohio response to anti-abortion event

Columbus — In response to the anti-abortion event at the Ohio Statehouse today, Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland released the following statement:

“Two out of three Ohioans oppose the six-week abortion ban. For the people who attended this rally, the six-week ban isn’t harsh enough. They want to ban abortion outright, even after seeing the horrific suffering that was caused by the six-week ban until a Hamilton County court stepped in to pause enforcement of this law. The complete lack of compassion for people who need access to abortion, whether because their birth control failed or they are facing a pregnancy complication, is astonishing, and completely out of touch with what Ohioans want.

“Ohioans who care about the wellbeing of people who need access to abortion must vote pro-choice up and down the ballot, from Nan Whaley for Governor to Jennifer Brunner, Marilyn Zayas, and Terri Jamison for the Supreme Court of Ohio. We cannot allow extremists like Mike DeWine, Dave Yost, and the anti-abortion members of the Supreme Court of Ohio to keep pushing their dangerous agenda on our state.”

Ohio abortion report shows importance of access

Columbus — There were 21,813 abortions in Ohio in 2021, according to the annual Induced Abortions in Ohio Report from the Ohio Department of Health. This is a 7% increase over the previous year.

Pro-Choice Ohio Deputy Director Jaime Miracle said: “Each year when this report comes out, there is a lot of focus on the numbers, this number went up, this number went down. What the last few months has really brought into focus is that each of these numbers is a person, a person who needed abortion care and was able to get the care they needed. For several months in 2022, Ohioans didn’t have that option. They had to travel hundreds of miles, wait weeks for appointments, and incur additional expenses, all because Governor Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost blocked their access to abortion care.”

Miracle continued, “We know that all kinds of people need abortions for all kinds of reasons. Getting access to abortion means that they can take care of the kids they already have, continue their education, and get access to life saving medical treatment. These are the people behind the numbers, and these are the people who Mike DeWine doesn’t want to answer to on a debate stage. Ohioans need leaders who will protect their access to abortion care, not sign bill after bill blocking it. We know that Nan Whaley and Cheryl Stephens will make sure that people who need abortion care can get it, in their community, without judgement, stigma, or delay.”

The Annual Induced Abortions in Ohio Reports is published from the Ohio Department of Health each Autumn, providing data from medical professionals who provide abortion services. https://odh.ohio.gov/explore-data-and-stats/published-reports/data-and-stats-abortion-reports

There are currently nine clinics offering medication abortion services in Ohio. Six of them also offer in-clinic procedures. All of them are providing patients with care permitted by the temporary restraining order extended by Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas this week. Ohio providers are also handling a new increase in patients from West Virginia and Kentucky as those states have banned abortion, although that 2022 trend will not be seen in the 2021 data. Find the full list of clinics on our website.

Pro-Choice Ohio releases new endorsements for 2022

Columbus — One day after a Hamilton County court judge blocked Mike DeWine’s six-week abortion ban, Pro-Choice Ohio is endorsing a slate of candidates for the Supreme Court of Ohio, in addition to other races on the 2022 General Election ballot.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “There will be more court proceedings before this is all over. It is important that everyone knows that we are not powerless in the face of the suffering caused by Governor DeWine. The case currently in Hamilton County will make its way to the Supreme Court of Ohio. Any effort to pass a ballot initiative in Ohio will be impacted by the state’s high court as well. It is imperative that Ohio voters reject Justices Sharon Kennedy, Pat DeWine, and Pat Fischer because they have already shown themselves to be a rubber stamp for Governor DeWine. Everyone who wants to see an end to the suffering caused by the six-week abortion ban should support Ohio’s abortion funds and must vote to elect pro-choice candidates like Justice Jennifer Brunner, Judge Terri Jamison, Judge Marilyn Zayas, and of course Nan Whaley for Governor and Jeff Crossman for Attorney General.”

The candidates listed below were endorsed by the Pro-Choice Ohio board following a rigorous screening by our staff.

For Supreme Court of Ohio
Justice Jennifer Brunner for Chief Justice
Judge Terri Jamison for Justice
Judge Marilyn Zayas for Justice

Nan Whaley for Governor
Cheryl Stephens for Lt. Governor
Jeff Crossman for Attorney General
Chelsea Clark for Secretary of State
Taylor Sappington for State Auditor
Scott Schertzer for State Treasurer

Rep. Tim Ryan for US Senate
Rep. Emilia Sykes for US House of Representatives, 13th District

For the Ohio Senate
District 03 Sen. Tina Maharath
District 09 Rep. Catherine Ingram
District 11 Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson
District 13 Anthony Eliopoulos
District 21 Rep. Kent Smith
District 23 Sen. Nickie Antonio
District 25 Bill DeMora
District 27 Dr. Patricia Goetz
District 33 Bob Hagan

For the Ohio House of Representatives
District 1 Rep. Dontavius Jarrells
District 2 Rep. Latyna Humphrey
District 3 Ismail Mohamed
District 4 Rep. Mary Lightbody
District 5 Rep. Richard Brown
District 6 Rep. Adam Miller
District 7 Rep. Allison Russo
District 8 Rep. Beth Liston
District 10 Russell Harris
District 11 Dr. Anita Somani
District 13 Rep. Michael Skindell
District 14 Sean Brennan
District 16 Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney
District 17 Troy Greenfield
District 18 Darnell Brewer
District 19 Rep. Phillip Robinson
District 21 Elliot Forhan
District 22 Rep. Juanita Brent
District 24 Dani Isaacsohn
District 25 Sen. Cecil Thomas
District 27 Rachel Baker
District 28 Rep. Jessica Miranda
District 30 Alissa Mayhaus
District 31 Rita Darrow
District 32 Matt Shaughnessy
District 33 Rep. Tavia Galonski
District 34 Rep. Casey Weinstein
District 36 Addison Caruso
District 37 Megan Overman
District 40 Amy Cox
District 41 Nancy Larson
District 42 Erika White
District 43 Michele Grim
District 46 Lawrence Mulligan
District 47 Sam Lawrence
District 56 Joy Bennett
District 57 Evan Rosborough
District 59 Lauren McNally
District 61 Louise Valentine
District 62 Brian Flick
District 67 Drew Burge
District 69 Charlotte Owens
District 70 Eric Price
District 72 Dr. James Duffee
District 75 Jan Materni
District 79 Taylor Eastham
District 82 Magdalene Markward
District 83 Claire Osborne
District 84 Sophia Rodriguez
District 86 Barbara Luke
District 89 Jim Obergefell
District 94 Tanya Conrath
District 99 Kathy Zappitello

Chris Ronayne for Cuyahoga County Executive

The list is available on our website: https://prochoiceohio.org/endorsements/

Ohio Abortion Ban Blocked for 14 Days

Columbus — Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christian A. Jenkins has blocked Ohio’s six-week abortion ban for 14 days. The decision comes in Preterm Cleveland et. al. vs. David Yost, et. al. (Case no. A2203203).

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “Today’s ruling from Judge Christian Jenkins granting a TRO on the six-week abortion ban is a blockbuster ruling. Judge Jenkins said what we have already known: the Ohio Constitution does not allow state legislators and Governor Mike DeWine to ban Ohioans from accessing abortion care. This 14-day stay provides temporary relief to the suffering of people who need to have an abortion.

“There will be more court proceedings before this is all over. It is important that everyone knows that we are not powerless in the face of the suffering caused by Governor DeWine. This case will make its way to the Supreme Court of Ohio. It is imperative that Ohio voters reject Justices Sharon Kennedy, Pat DeWine, and Pat Fischer because they have already shown themselves to be a rubberstamp for Governor DeWine. Everyone who wants to see an end to the suffering caused by the six-week abortion ban should support Ohio’s abortion funds, and support pro-choice candidates like Nan Whaley for governor.”

The move to seek relief in Hamilton County courts came as a result of inaction by the Supreme Court of Ohio. Tomorrow, Pro-Choice Ohio will be releasing our latest round of 2022 General Election endorsements and recommendations. The state court role is critical for the future of abortion rights advocacy in Ohio.

The decision is available at https://hamiltoncountycourts.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Decision-and-Entry-Final-091422.pdf

Supreme Court of Ohio continues to fail Ohioans

Columbus — Attorneys for Dayton abortion clinic Women’s Med Center have announced a new lawsuit in Hamilton County court, citing the failure of the Supreme Court of Ohio to take responsible action.

Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said: “For weeks, members of Ohio Supreme Court have turned their backs on Ohioans who are suffering because they are being denied the right to access abortion care in our state after six weeks into pregnancy. What is a single parent in Dayton facing an unplanned pregnancy supposed to do when the only clinic in town closes and Indiana outlaws abortion in a couple of weeks? The court should have taken action rather than forcing someone to travel hundreds of miles for a medical procedure, or worse give birth against their will.

Copeland added: “Between their failure to follow state law with respect to the redistricting process and their lack of compassion when being asked to halt callous abortion bans, we’re seeing just how unprofessional Republican justices on the Supreme Court of Ohio really are. Ohio voters have the power to change that. The first and fastest way to restore full abortion access in Ohio is by voting Pat DeWine, Pat Fischer, and Sharon Kennedy off the state Supreme Court in November.”

The u.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade

Abortion access is temporarily restored in Ohio, and we’re going to keep fighting to keep it that way!

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