COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine Friday certified the petition for a proposed constitutional amendment submitted by Personhood Ohio.
In a written announcement, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office confirmed it received a written petition to amend the Ohio Constitution from Personhood Ohio, a group whose initiative petition, if successful, would amend the Ohio Constitution to define the world “person” and “men” as those terms are used in Article 1, Section 1, and Article 1, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution to include “every human being at every stage of biological development, including fertilization.”
In a prepared statement, General DeWine said that the submission was certified as containing both the necessary 1,000 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters and a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposed amendment.
“Without passing upon the advisability of the approval or rejection of the measure to be referred,…I hereby certify that the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment,” DeWine said in a letter to the petitioners
Once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board must determine if the amendment contains a single issue or multiple issues. The petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.
In their letter to General DeWine, Personhood Ohio Committee members – James Patrick Johnston, Frank Weimer, David Daubenmire and Tom Raddell – quoted Thomas Jefferson, who said, “The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”
The committee said the proposed law would not 1) Affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; 2) Affect the human “eggs” or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; and 3) Affect reproductive technology of IVF procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.
Supporters can now proceed with collecting the more than 385,000 valid signatures of registered voters needed by July 4 to qualify the measure for the November 2012 ballot. Previously in October, General DeWine rejected supporters’ initial language for a petition drive, finding that it was not a “fair and truthful” summary of the issue.
With the Iowa GOP Caucuses looming next week, it is important that four of the seven Republican presidential candidates reaffirmed their pro-life positions and pledged to protect fetal “personhood” both legislatively and constitutionally.
Personhood USA is a national organization best known as for its pledge requiring that signors “defend all innocent human life,” and reaffirm that “Abortion and the intentional killing of an innocent human being are always wrong and should be prohibited.”
Voters in the State of Mississippi in November rejected a similar ballot initiative. Meanwhile, personhood proposals have been likewise rejected twice in Colorado. In Nevada, voters were similarly thwarted when a federal judge pitched a petition submitted by supporters, ruling it unclear.
Sandy Theis, a spokeswoman for Healthy Families Ohio, an abortion-rights group, said her organization will work to defeat the measure if it makes it to the ballot.
“A majority of Ohioans do not support interfering in a woman’s ability to make personal and private medical decisions,” said. “The amendment would put the health and safety of Ohio women and families at risk.”
Opponents like Theis say the measure provides no exception for an abortion when a woman’s life is at risk or for victims of rape and incest. Moreover, critics contend it would outlaw birth control, including emergency contraception, and in-vitro fertilization and similar efforts to treat infertility.
Meanwhile, other voices say the law is just another attempt to legislate morality. Becki Scwab reflected what opponents to such amendments are thinking, that government should stay our of decisions that should be solely between a husband and wife and their doctor.
“Contrary to what the pro-life folks would have you believe, people who make the decision to have an abortion don’t make that decision lightly. Ultimately, the only people that should be allowed to make decision about what I do w/ my life are those walking in my shoes,” she wrote, adding, “And the last I looked, my feet are the only ones in my shoes.”
Information from the Huffington Post and the Columbus Dispatch were used in this article.
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