In a landmark decision that has sent shockwaves across the political landscape, Ohio voters have approved a ballot measure that enshrines the right to access abortion care in the state’s constitution (via NBC News). This resounding victory for reproductive rights advocates comes nearly 17 months after the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had previously guaranteed a federal right to abortion.
The passage of Issue 1, which was supported by a majority of Ohio voters, inserts language into the state constitution explicitly guaranteeing every person the right to “one’s own reproductive medical treatment, including but not limited to abortion.” It also bars the state from “burdening, penalizing or prohibiting” these rights, except for late-term abortions that occur after a doctor determines the fetus is viable outside the womb. Exceptions are allowed in cases where the mother’s life or health is at risk.
This victory in Ohio is particularly significant given that the state has historically leaned towards Republican candidates, with Donald Trump winning Ohio by 8-point margins in both of his presidential campaigns. It underscores the growing national consensus in favor of abortion rights, a trend that has been evident in recent elections across the country.
A Resounding Victory in the Face of Adversity
The passage of Issue 1 comes on the heels of a series of legal battles over Ohio abortion rights. In the wake of the Dobbs decision, Ohio’s “heartbeat bill” went into effect, banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. However, this law was temporarily blocked by a state judge, and its ultimate fate remains uncertain.
Despite the legal challenges and the political headwinds, reproductive rights advocates in Ohio mounted a determined campaign to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. They outspent anti-abortion groups by a significant margin,raising over $23 million for advertising compared to just $10 million raised by opponents.
This financial advantage, coupled with the resounding defeat of a measure to make it harder to amend the state constitution in August, paved the way for the success of Issue 1. The August defeat was seen as a clear indication that Ohio voters were not willing to make it more difficult to protect their reproductive rights.
A Message to Lawmakers: Abortion Rights Matter to Ohioans
The approval of Issue 1 is a clear message to Ohio lawmakers that abortion rights are a priority for voters in the state. It is a stark reminder that the Dobbs decision has not diminished the public’s support for abortion access, but rather has galvanized advocates to fight for their rights.
This victory is not just for Ohioans; it is a beacon of hope for reproductive rights advocates across the country who are fighting to protect access to abortion care in the wake of the Dobbs decision. It demonstrates that even in states with a history of conservative political leanings, voters are willing to stand up for their reproductive freedom.
As the nation grapples with the implications of the Dobbs decision, the passage of Issue 1 in Ohio sends a powerful message: abortion rights are not going away without a fight.