Ohio votes to protect right to abortion in landmark pro-choice win

Ohio votes to protect abortion rights

Voters in the state of Ohio have approved a constitutional amendment that will protect people’s right to abortion, as well as other forms of reproductive healthcare.

The landmark pro-choice decision will go into effect in just 30 days and will make Ohio the seventh state to protect abortion access following the 2022 Supreme Court overturning of Roe v Wade.

Before the vote took place, a 2019 Republican-led bill had outlawed abortion once a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which is typically around week six of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. That bill was put on hold by a state court injunction after a lawsuit was filed against it.

Now, Ohio voters have approved a new measure to amend the state constitution and protect abortion rights.

Ohio votes to protect abortion rights
People celebrate as Ohio passes a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights. (Getty Images)

Specifically, the amendment, named “Issue 1” will allow state residents to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to” decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy.

It will protect Ohio residents from being directly burdened, penalized, or prohibited from accessing abortion care before viability, which is generally considered to be from 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

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The amendment allows the state to ban abortion after viability unless it is necessary to protect the life and health of the mother.

Issue 1 passed this Tuesday (7 November) with a more than 57 per cent vote.

This vote was a major win for pro-choice activists, paving the way for future state abortion referendums to counter the downfall of Roe v Wade.

Ohio votes to protect abortion rights
Ohio is the only state to consider statewide abortion rights in 2023. (Getty Images)

Ohio is considered a political swing state, but still, residents were unmoved by anti-abortion activists who tried their best to convince voters to reject Issue 1 by claiming it would lead to minors getting abortions and accessing gender-affirming care without their parents’ knowledge or permission – both great exaggerations, according to legal experts who spoke to The Guardian.

The results of the Issue 1 vote are likely to lift Democrats’ spirits for the future of abortion care and of the buoyancy of more left-leaning policies ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Speaking at a vote watch party, Pro-Choice Ohio’s Kellie Copeland celebrated: “Ohio is not a red state. We’re purple as hell, baby!”

Similarly, President Joe Biden gave a nod to the pro-choice vote in a statement on Tuesday night.

“Ohioans and voters across the country rejected attempts by Maga Republican elected officials to impose extreme abortion bans that put the health and lives of women in jeopardy, force women to travel hundreds of miles for care, and threaten to criminalize doctors and nurses for providing the healthcare that their patients need and that they are trained to provide,” he said. “This extreme and dangerous agenda is out-of-step with the vast majority of Americans.”

Ohio is the only US state to consider statewide abortion rights in 2023.

It is expected that other states like Arizona and Florida could soon hold their own similar abortion referendums.