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U.S. News

Ohio Voters Deliver Big Win for Abortion Rights

By Belal Awad · August 9, 2023

In brief…

  • In a win for abortion rights, Ohio voters rejected ballot measure 'Issue 1' by over 14-point margin.
  • Issue 1 would have required a 60% majority for amending Ohio's constitution, potentially making it harder to preserve abortion rights in the future.
  • Victory seen as significant win for abortion rights advocates in the battleground state of Ohio and nationally.
  • One political anayst called the double-digit loss in Ohio a "red flag" for Republicans and their anti-abortion strategy.
Ohio voters turned down a ballot initiative yesterday that would have placed state abortion rights in jeopardy.  ProgressOhio/Wikimedia

Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have made it harder to protect abortion rights in the state. With nearly all votes counted, the initiative, called Issue 1, was voted down by a margin of 57% to 43%.

The ballot initiative sought to raise the threshold for amending Ohio’s constitution from a simple majority to 60%, which would have made it significantly more difficult for an abortion rights amendment slated for this November to succeed. Yesterday’s ballot defeat is seen as a major win for abortion rights advocates in the key battleground state, and a possible harbinger for the 2024 presidential election.

Approximately half of U.S. states have prohibited abortion or implemented measures to restrict its availability. This follows last year’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, which had made abortions legal in all 50 states since 1973. Last year’s SCOTUS ruling granted states the authority to establish their own abortion limits or to outlaw abortion outright.

The Ohio vote shows that “people across demographics turned out to show their support for protecting access to abortion rights, as well as protecting democracy,” political analyst Juanita Tolliver told MSNBC. She believes the data from yesterday’s vote will show high turnout across gender, age and partisan lines.

Matthew Dowd, a one-time Republican strategist, chided his former party, saying the vote signals that “voters are expressing they want to have a say in our democracy.” He argued Republicans have repeatedly tried to “circumvent the election process” through gerrymandering and other measures when their unpopular policies face public backlash.

Abortion rights organizers mounted a large and seemingly effective outreach campaign leading to yesterday’s vote, which, because it took place during the dog days of summer, was highly dependent on voter turnout

Tolliver called the double-digit loss a “red flag” for Republicans and their anti-abortion strategy, as voters in Ohio and other states continue to strongly support abortion access. “Democrats get to say we’re the ones fighting for women and pregnant people,” she explained. “We’re the ones fighting for our democracy.”

The fate of abortion access in Ohio now largely depends on a separate ballot initiative coming in November that would enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution.