Ohio voters enshrine abortion access in state constitution in latest statewide reproductive rights victory

Lauren Miracle, right, holds her son Dawson, 1, as she helps her daughter Oaklynn, 3, fill out a child's practice ballot before voting in person at a polling place at the Washington Township House in Oregonia, Ohio, Tuesday November 7th.  Polls have opened in a number of states for off-year elections, which could provide clues about voter sentiment ahead of next year's crucial presidential election.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

Ohio voters enshrine abortion access in state constitution in latest statewide reproductive rights victory



November 7, 2023

Ohio voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care, the latest victory for abortion rights advocates since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade destroyed last year.

Ohio became the seventh state where voters decided to protect access to abortion after the landmark ruling and was the only state to consider a statewide abortion rights question this year.

The outcome of the intense off-year election could be a harbinger of 2024, when Democrats hope the issue will energize their voters and help the president


Biden retains the White House. Voters in Arizona, Missouri and elsewhere are expected to vote on similar protections next year.

Ohio’s constitutional amendment, which was No. 1 on the ballot, contained some of the most protective language for abortion access of any statewide ballot initiative since the Supreme Court ruling. Opponents had argued that the amendment would threaten parental rights, allow unlimited gender reassignment surgery for minors and revive partial-birth abortions, which are federally banned.

Public opinion polls show that about two-thirds of Americans say abortion should generally be legal in the earliest stages of pregnancy, a sentiment underscored in both Democratic and deeply Republican states since the justices overturned Roe in June 2022 brought.

Before the Ohio vote, statewide initiatives in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont had affirmed abortion access or rejected efforts to undermine the right.

Turnout for Ohio’s constitutional amendment, including early voting, was robust for off-year elections. The passage of Issue 1 will almost certainly overturn a 2019 state law passed by Republicans that bans most abortions after detecting fetal heart activity, with no exceptions for rape and incest. That law, currently on hold due to legal challenges, is one of about two dozen abortion restrictions passed by the Ohio Legislature in recent years.

Issue 1 specifically declared an individual’s right to make and exercise their own reproductive decisions, including contraception, fertility treatments, miscarriage and abortion.

It allowed the state to regulate the procedure after fetal viability, as long as exceptions were made for cases where a doctor determined the woman’s life or health was in danger. Viability was defined as the point at which the fetus had a significant chance of surviving outside the uterus with reasonable interventions.

Anti-abortion groups, with the help of the Republican government. Mike DeWine tested several messages to try to defeat the amendment, focusing mainly on the idea that the proposal was too extreme for the state. The supporters’ campaign focused on the message of keeping the government out of families’ private affairs.

The latest vote followed a special election in August called by the Republican-controlled Legislature that aimed to make future constitutional changes more difficult to implement by raising the threshold from a simple majority vote to 60%. That proposal was aimed in part at undermining the abortion rights measure decided on Tuesday.

Voters overwhelmingly defeated this special election question, paving the way for the high-stakes fall abortion campaign.

in the meantime

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear was re-elected to a second term on Tuesday.


another significant statewide victory

for Democrats

in an increasingly red state

that could serve as a model for other Democrats on how to thrive politically heading into the next presidential election-defining years


Beshear, 45, led his stewardship of record economic growth and his handling of multiple disasters, from tornadoes and floods to the COVID-19 pandemic, to victory over Republican Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron, a protege of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In what could be a preview of how Democrats campaign in 2024, Beshear hammered Cameron throughout the campaign on his support for the state’s sweeping abortion ban, which makes no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

The outcome gives divided government another stamp of voter approval in Kentucky, as Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature and continue to dominate the state’s congressional delegation, including both seats in the U.S. Senate.

Associated Press writer Samantha Hendrickson in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, contributed to this report.


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