Abortion rights likely headed for showdown in Ohio this fall



The number of signatures submitted far exceeded the approximately 400,000 required for an initiative to pass. County councils have until July 20 to verify the signatures of the secretary of state, who then has until July 25 to make the final appeal on the initiative’s qualification for the November vote.

Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, a nonpartisan coalition of abortion rights groups, submitted ballot wording earlier this year, kicking off a four-month race to collect signatures and campaign across the state. . Supporters, including state Democrats, the ACLU of Ohio and Ohio family planning advocates, plan to spend more than $35 million on the effort in November.

Opponents pushed against the measure arguing that it would allow gender-affirming care without parental consent, even though such a provision is not in the language of the initiative.

“The ACLU’s attempts to hijack Ohio’s constitution to advance its own radical agenda would be pathetic if it weren’t so dangerous,” said Amy Natoce, spokesperson for Protect Women Ohio, a coalition of Anti-abortion rights groups against the measure. statement.

The Conservatives are right to be concerned. Nearly a year ago, ruby-red Kansas became the first state in the nation to ask voters about abortion rights directly after the Supreme Court overturned it. deer. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the ballot measure, which would have removed abortion rights protections from the Kansas Constitution and given the legislature the right to further restrict or ban abortion.

Kansas was a wake-up call for anti-abortion rights supporters — a signal that some anti-abortion advocates flagged as a fluke. But that claim was proven wrong after pro-abortion rights causes prevailed in states across the country midway through last year and earlier this year in Wisconsin, leading to a ideological reversal of the State Supreme Court. Nationally, proponents of abortion rights remain more motivated by the issue than opponents, according to a recent Gallup poll.

For Democrats, the prospect of an off-year campaign focused on abortion could hardly come at a better time. Ohio will host a high-stakes senatorial battle in 2024, with the re-election of Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. GOP challengers for that seat include state senator Matt Dolan and businessman Bernie Moreno. Secretary of State Frank LaRose – who has been in the spotlight as his office handles ballot measures – is tease a race Also. In the House, Republicans aim to flip seats held by Democratic Representatives Greg Landsman, Marcy Kaptur and Emilia Sykes.

“Ohio is ground zero for the fight for abortion rights in this country, and nowhere is that clearer than the race for the U.S. Senate,” the House Democratic Minority Leader said. representatives, Allison Russo. “Next year, we must reject any out-of-touch candidates who make it through this messy Republican primary.”

But messages about abortion haven’t always been front and center for Democrats in Ohio. Former Rep. Tim Ryan, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate last year, has mostly focused on the economy, jobs and crime.

Irene Lin, an Ohio-based Democratic strategist who helped collect signatures for the abortion rights campaign, said she believes stories like that of an Ohio rape victim 10-year-old who had traveled to Indiana to have an abortion would have moved the needle for Democrats like Nan Whaley, who ran for governor last year and made abortion l one of its main problems. But that was not the case. Whaley lost 25 points.

“There’s this perception that abortion helped us midterm, and I agree that was the case in some states,” Lin said. “If you’re in a state where there are a lot of college-educated women, a lot of suburban women, yes, that can help you. If you’re not one of those states, …we as Democrats can’t count on it being as helpful as we would like.

Republicans are already acting to handicap the abortion measure’s chances of success, putting a proposal known as Issue 1 on an August special ballot to make it harder for constitutional amendments to pass. If approved, the passing threshold would increase from a simple majority to 60%.

If that 60% threshold had been in place in other states last year, the abortion-rights winning streak would not necessarily have succeeded. Ohio’s effort is most similar to Michigan’s, which passed a ballot initiative in November to proactively codify abortion rights into the constitution there. This measure received approximately 57% of the votes.

And that was in Michigan, a swing state. The political environment in Republican-leaning Ohio is more favorable to conservatives.

“Ohio has had a pretty Republican streak over the last decade,” said Doug Preisse, a veteran Republican strategist in the state, that abortion is “less hurtful to Republicans.”



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