Introducing Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, a Cohort to Secure Explicit Abortion Access in the State Constitution

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 of Ohio, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Preterm-Cleveland, Pro-Choice Ohio, and URGE. 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. 

although 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.