Losing ballot issues on abortion, GOP now tries to keep them off the ballot

Losing ballot issues on abortion, GOP now tries to keep them off the ballot

The New York Times reports:

Voters pushed back decisively after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, approving ballot measures that established or upheld abortion rights in all six states where they appeared.

Now, with abortion rights groups pushing for similar citizen-led ballot initiatives in at least six other states, Republican-controlled legislatures and anti-abortion groups are trying to stay one step ahead by making it harder to pass the measures — or to get them on the ballot at all.

The biggest and most immediate fight is in Ohio, where a coalition of abortion rights groups is collecting signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would prohibit the state from banning abortion before a fetus becomes viable outside the womb, at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. That would essentially establish on the state level what Roe did nationwide for five decades.

Organizers were confident that the measure would reach the simple majority needed for passage, given polls showing that most Ohioans — like most Americans — support legalized abortion and disapprove of overturning Roe.

But Republicans in the state legislature are advancing a ballot amendment of their own that would raise the percentage of votes required to pass future such measures to a 60 percent supermajority. The measure has passed the Ohio Senate and is expected to pass the House this week.

The Republican measure — which would require support from only 50 percent of voters to pass — would go before voters in a special election this August.

“There are a lot of elected officials leading state legislatures that are being unapologetic, brazen, relentless — choose your adjective — about the fact that they don’t care what voters think on this issue and that their ideological stance on this is going to dictate the outcome,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, which supports citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives across the country as a check on gerrymandered state legislatures.

Republicans in Ohio have said openly that their efforts to make ballot amendments harder to pass are aimed at blocking abortion rights. They are putting their measure on the ballot in August, typically a time of low turnout. It will not include the word “abortion,” which abortion rights supporters say will make it hard to engage their voters. [Continue reading…]

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