In a stunning blow to pro-life advocates, Ohio voters have added reproductive rights to the state constitution by passing Issue 1. The measure, known as the Right to Make Reproductive Decisions Including Abortion Initiative, garnered a commanding lead of 55% to 41% with 85% of the vote counted. Major news organizations declared the race around 9 p.m., solidifying the victory for the pro-choice movement.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) November 8, 2023
Under this new amendment, the state of Ohio is explicitly prohibited from burdening, penalizing, prohibiting, interfering with, or discriminating against individuals seeking abortions, contraception, and other reproductive-related medical services. Despite this, there are limitations on abortion after fetal viability, which is typically around 22 weeks’ gestation. However, any post-viability restrictions can be overridden by the treating doctor to protect the life or health of the pregnant patient.
Unsurprisingly, pro-life advocates were dismayed by the outcome. Jor-El Godsey, president of the pro-life group Heartbeat International, expressed his disappointment by stating, “Big Abortion won, while women, parents, and babies lost.” He argued that common-sense protections for women were lost, parents lost the ability to be involved in their child’s medical and emotional health, and babies were denied their bodily autonomy.
On the other hand, pro-choice advocates celebrated the victory and highlighted the enduring belief in reproductive freedom. Mari Urbina, managing director of Indivisible, said that the result demonstrates the momentum of the pro-choice movement and predicted more victories in 2024. She also emphasized the importance of upcoming battleground states like Arizona, where voters will play a crucial role in defending reproductive rights.
Issue 1 now takes precedence over Ohio’s current abortion laws, including the ban on most abortions after 22 weeks’ gestation and the pending heartbeat law. The amendment also limits the ability of the Republican-controlled state legislature and GOP Governor Mike DeWine to pass further restrictions on abortion access. This victory for the pro-choice movement came after a costly campaign, with over $70 million spent on both sides. Pro-choice groups raised $41 million, while pro-life groups collected $29 million.
Pro-life leader Marjorie Dannenfelser attributed the passage of Issue 1 to fearmongering tactics employed by abortion activists and Democrat donors. She claimed that voters were falsely led to believe that women would die without the amendment. She also accused George Soros and the left-wing media of propping up this narrative through massive ad spending.
Despite Ohio Governor Mike DeWine campaigning against the measure, urging voters to reject it, the majority of Ohioans chose to support reproductive rights. This monumental decision solidifies Ohio’s place among the growing number of states that have prioritized reproductive freedom in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.