Ohio voters codified an alleged “right” to abortion in their state constitution Tuesday night, marking another state-level win for pro-abortion groups after Roe v. Wade’s overturn last year.
Polling sites in the Buckeye State closed at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. An hour later, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report projected passage of the constitutional amendment, called Issue 1, with 60 percent in favor versus 40 percent against based on early returns.
The amendment supersedes laws passed by Ohio’s legislature, making it nearly irreversible barring another future ballot initiative. Its adoption comes after voters rejected an August amendment to raise the threshold for passing constitutional changes from 50 percent plus one to 60 percent, which would’ve posed a bigger obstacle for Issue 1.
Pro-abortion organizations had invested heavily in framing “yes” on Issue 1 as a vote for “freedom,” utilizing conservative imagery of opposing government overreach plus mentions of “faith” and “family” to build support. Similar branding strategies aided ballot victories in Kansas and Michigan this midterm cycle.
Critics had warned the intentionally broad measure threatens parental consent laws, enables later abortions, and even empowers minors to access transgender procedures without parental approval. The Republican Governor and some legal experts referenced Issue 1’s use of “individual” rather than “woman,” arguing it could allow minors to get abortions without consent.
Left-leaning fact checkers contended Issue 1 won’t impact parental rights, partial-birth bans or transgender minor procedures. In a televised debate, a pro-abortion advocate insisted it simply removes politicians from reproductive healthcare choices.
But when local media asked about parental consent laws, the ACLU vaguely suggested those statutes could be unenforceable under Issue 1’s provisions.
Ohio’s Attorney General analyzed the amendment, concluding the expansive language leaves outcomes uncertain around laws like parental notification. He said Issue 1 likely overturns pre-viability and partial-birth restrictions.
The ACLU of Ohio and Planned Parenthood helped craft Issue 1’s original broad terminology establishing a right for an individual’s reproductive medical treatment including abortion.
Out-of-state groups massively outraised Issue 1’s opponents, led by a $5.3 million donation from an Arabella Advisors’ dark money fund. The ballot fight illustrates abortion’s enduring role as a pivotal wedge issue.