The Crozier Center for Women and the Kenyon chapter of Planned Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA) is gathering petition signatures to get an amendment protecting abortion rights on the ballot in Ohio. The amendment, called The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety, was brought by Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, and it will protect individuals from government intervention when making decisions concerning their reproductive health.
The petition needs to collect 413,488 signatures statewide (10% of the votes cast in the 2022 Ohio gubernatorial race) to make it onto the ballot. The proposed amendment would establish an individual’s right to make choices regarding contraception, abortion, miscarriages, fertility treatments and other decisions pertaining to pregnancy. The amendment would also protect those who help people access reproductive care within the limits of the law, such as healthcare providers. The state government would be unable to prosecute individuals who receive this reproductive care.
The Crozier Center for Women got involved with the petition thanks to former house manager Colleen Damerell ’13, who is a member of the group Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom. Current Crozier co-managers Abby Griffith ’24 and Valeria Garcia-Pozo ’23 have also been in contact with some local members of the Democratic Party who have been tabling outside of the bookstore to get more signatures. Treasurer of the Knox County Democratic Party Linda Michaelsis, who has been collecting signatures on campus, is a long-time activist for social justice and encourages people from all political backgrounds to sign the petition. “I don’t think decisions about reproductive health should be made by legislators,” she said.
On Tuesday, PPGA hosted Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio Regional Field Manager Olivia Oney to discuss abortion rights activism as well as the current state of reproductive health in the country. After the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade was struck down in June, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a six-week abortion ban into law, which was then blocked by an Ohio judge. More recently, Texas Judge Mathew Kacsmaryk invalidated the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a drug that is used in medication abortions. This ruling threatens to pull the pill off the market. Oney explained that Planned Parenthood is trying to educate people about the amendment across the state, since many people do support abortion access. “Ohioans are not represented by the legislature and the laws they are trying to pass,” she said.
The efforts of these groups are but a fraction of the work being done nationally to protect bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom. “Abortion is just one piece of reproductive health care,” said Oney. “There are so many rights the government is trying to play with. It’s all about control at the end of the day.” Michaels is looking to gather 2,400 signatures throughout Knox County and is hopeful that the amendment will make it onto the ballot come November “so that voters, not the legislature, can decide this issue.”