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What to Know About Ohio's Abortion Ballot Initiative

Here's what to know about it

In Ohio, Democrats are trying to add abortion protections to the state constitution through a ballot initiative. But Republicans are attempting to block the move in the political bellwether state by raising the threshold for a ballot initiative to succeed.

In an August 8 special election, voters will decide whether ballot initiatives need to pass with 60 percent of the vote instead of the current simple majority; this vote takes place before Ohioans head to the polls in November for the abortion measure. That could make all the difference for abortion rights in the state: A USA Today/Suffolk University survey that polled 500 likely voters in July found that 58 percent supported a constitutional amendment that would add abortion protections. An Ohio Northern University poll of registered voters conducted in July found that neither side had majority support—with 42.4 percent approving of Issue 1, the measure to increase the passing margin, and 41 percent disapproving.

Abortion is currently legal in Ohio until fetal viability, around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but it isn't protected by the state constitution. The state enacted an abortion ban that kicked in at around six weeks of pregnancy after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year but a lower court issued a stay; that ruling is being appealed. The proposed constitutional amendment would preserve the ability for abortion to occur until viability.

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