In post-Roe America, Ohio enshrines abortion in its constitution
Even the most rusted-on Democrats used to argue that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”. But this week, deep-red Ohio — a state that carried Donald Trump by eight points in 2020 — carved out a right to abortion in its state Constitution.
Passed by a 57 percent to 43 percent vote last week, “Ohio Issue 1” as it was popularly known, enshrined a constitutional right 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.
While the amendment theoretically restricted abortion after “fetal viability”, it also enacted a broad-based ban preventing the state from infringing on the right to abortion “directly or indirectly.”
Issue 1 was backed by the Ohio Democratic Party, the ACLU of Ohio, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, and Ohio Women’s Alliance.
As reported by The Daily Wire, pro-life advocates argued throughout the campaign that, given its vague wording, “the measure will effectively make abortion legal at any point in pregnancy”. Fox News likewise noted that the vote was “opposed by Republicans in the state who argued the measure went even farther than Roe v. Wade”.
The overthrow of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 returned abortion regulation to the states, prompting a rash of new legislation across the US in the months since. While many conservative-leaning states have moved to strengthen protections for the unborn, Ohio is the first to significantly buck that trend.
Pro-life groups that opposed the ballot measure have expressed deep sadness at last week’s result.
“Our hearts are broken tonight not because we lost an election, but because Ohio families, women, and children will bear the brunt of this vote,” Protect Women Ohio said in a statement released on X, formerly Twitter.
The group also warned of the dangers ahead for unborn Ohioans based on the precedent recently set in the state of Michigan:
When Michigan voters passed a similar amendment last year, they were sold the lie that parental rights would be unaffected, that late-term abortion would remain illegal, and that women’s health and safety standers would not be touched. But just last week, the Michigan legislature voted to repeal penalties for partial-birth abortions, to eliminate health and safety protections at abortion facilities, and they called parental consent laws “unconstitutional.”
Jor-El Godsey, President of the pro-life organisation Heartbeat International, likewise mourned in a statement on X that:
Big Abortion won, while women, parents, and babies lost. Women lost common-sense protections. Parents have lost the ability to be involved in a key, and dangerous, component of their child’s medical and emotional health. And babies have been denied their bodily autonomy to grow as God intended. The work of pregnancy help will now be the only thing that can help women from the entrapment of the abortion profiteers.
As the dust settles on events in Ohio, pro-life Americans have begun assessing what led to the devastating loss.
Lila Rose, President and Founder of Live Action, pointed to the effective ad campaign of pro-abortionists, the ballot measure’s confusing wording, and Republicans’ unwillingness to match Democrat spending on the issue.
“If we want to win, the above must change,” she summarised.
Others have highlighted more entrenched problems in the GOP, particularly the leadership of RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. At Wednesday night’s Republican primary debate, candidate Vivek Ramaswamy mourned the GOP’s descent into “a party of losers” and spoke of a “cancer in the Republican establishment” that led to losses like that in Ohio. In a moment that quickly went viral online, Ramaswamy personally invited McDaniel to the stage to announce her resignation.
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For its part, The Washington Stand mourned the deceptiveness of the pro-abortion campaign in Ohio, and gave a scathing rebuke to the many Christian leaders and groups that misrepresented the Bible’s teachings to advance the pro-abort agenda.
Others expressed bewilderment and anger at the vast sums of out-of-state cash that flooded into Ohio to prop up the pro-abortion cause.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said in a memo released Wednesday, “In Ohio, pro-abortion forces spent a staggering $66.7 million, outspending pro-life forces by a 2:1 margin to fuel a campaign centred on lies and deception”.
“The staggering sum spent by pro-abortion forces and the tens of millions of ‘in-kind’ contributions made by the media overwhelmed the ability of the pro-life movement,” she added. “In the closing weeks, pro-abortion forces outspent pro-life forces $19 million to $7.7 million on television, nearly a 3:1 advantage.”
There is merit to each of these assessments, and surely much more to be said about the Ohio loss.
Meanwhile, what must not be overlooked is the declining spiritual state of America. Where once life was sacred, it is now broadly viewed as disposable. Personal fulfilment trumps most other priorities, the life of millions of the unborn being the most tragic collateral in this exchange. Individualism, relativism and secularism have elbowed out traditional family values and a concern for the sacred that was once an unspoken fact of life.
Surely addressing these issues is the long-term way to avert more results like Ohio’s.
Ben Terangi is a freelance journalist writing from Milwaukee.
Image credit: screenshot MSNBC
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