December 2, 2023

By J.D. Davidson (The Center Square)

Ohio voters easily approved Tuesday a constitutional amendment that enshrines the right to have an abortion.

The Associated Press called the election for Issue 1 shortly after 9 p.m. with a little less than 25% of precincts reporting and approval leading 57.4% to 42.6%.

Ohio became the seventh state to protect abortion access after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

“Together, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights passed Issue 1 and put Ohioans back in charge of their personal decisions about pregnancy and abortion. We successfully enshrined the right to reproductive freedom into the Ohio Constitution,” said Lauren Blauvelt, campaign co-chair of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights and vice-president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.

“Ohioans rejected disinformation and fear and voted instead to ensure that every Ohioan has access to the reproductive healthcare they need here in our state,” she added.

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Several counties – including Hamilton, Delaware, Mahoning, Butler, Warren and Clermont – that easily went for Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election voted to approve the abortion rights amendment Tuesday.

Issue 1 guarantees an individual the right to make reproductive decisions and carry out those decisions, including those about birth control, fertility treatments, miscarriage and abortion.

The state still has the power to regulate abortion after fetal viability, with exceptions for the life or health of the mother based on a determination by a physician.

Republicans, however, said Tuesday the abortion question remains open.

“As a 100% pro-life conservative, I remain steadfastly committed to protecting life, and that commitment is unwavering,” House Speaker Jason Stephens said. “The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life. This is not the end of the conversation.”

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The passage of Issue 1 stops the 2019 heartbeat bill passed in Ohio that ended abortion when a fetal heartbeat was detected, with no exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. The law went into effect when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. Implementation has been on hold because of lawsuits.

It was basically the second time in three months voters approved the right to an abortion.

After a citizen-led organization met the threshold to put abortion on the November ballot, abortion foes and Republicans pushed a measure that would have increased the threshold to pass a constitutional amendment.

In an August special election that cost taxpayers more than $15 million, voters overwhelmingly rejected a requirement that 60% majority is needed to pass a constitutional amendment.

Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.