Ohio enshrined the right to an abortion into the state constitution on Tuesday night, with voters giving their approval to a citizen-backed initiative known as Issue 1. The “yes” side was ahead 59-41 with approximately 36% of the vote counted when the Associated Press called the race.
The vote ensures that the state’s six-week abortion ban, which Republicans passed in 2019 but was put on hold by a court earlier this year, can never be revived. Instead, Issue 1 reestablishes a framework similar to the one that existed under Roe v. Wade. Under that approach, the state would be restrained from passing laws that curtail the right to an abortion up until fetal viability, which occurs at around 22 to 24 weeks into pregnancy. Later abortions would also be permitted, according to the amendment’s text, “if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
The amendment further protects several other reproductive freedoms, including the right to contraception and fertility treatments, both of which have also been under attack from conservatives. Ohio Republicans did everything they could to undermine Issue 1 as well, an effort that included calling a special election in August for an amendment that would have made future ballot measures much harder to pass. Voters, however, rejected that amendment (also known as Issue 1) by a 57-43 margin, presaging Tuesday night’s result.
The win is the latest in an unbroken string of victories for reproductive rights dating back to August of last year, when voters in deep-red Kansas rejected an amendment that would have rolled back the state’s guarantee of abortion access. Advocates are now hoping for similar successes elsewhere, with efforts to qualify constitutional amendments underway in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, and South Dakota.
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