Residents of Ohio will go to the polls next month and decide whether to protect access to abortion rights in the state constitution. The vote on Issue 1 is being closely watched, and anti-abortion forces, stung by a string of recent losses in other states, are pouring money into the Buckeye State.
Catholics for Choice reported recently that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has spent at least $1.4 million in Ohio so far, most of it coming from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati ($1 million), the Diocese of Cleveland ($200,000) and the Diocese of Columbus ($200,000).
These donations are not illegal, but it’s important to note that the hierarchy – the all-male bishops who run the church – made them. The majority of Roman Catholics, like most Americans, support legal abortion.
A flood of misinformation
Big donations aren’t the only thing we’re seeing in Ohio. There has also been a flood of misinformation about what Issue 1 would (and would not) do. The Associated Press reported earlier this month, “Ads portray it as a gateway to children getting abortions and gender-related surgeries without their parents’ consent. Opponents also have falsely suggested the amendment would open doors to protecting abusers and legalizing infanticide.”
Some of the claims are very lurid. Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian Nationalist legal group, has claimed that Issue 1 would permit infanticide. David Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University, called that assertion “pure nonsense.”
Remember, extremists in Ohio have repeatedly tried to game the system. Aware that polls show Ohioans backing legal abortion by about 59%, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Republicans in the state legislature proposed changing the rules to require a 60% margin to alter the Ohio Constitution. That proposal appeared on the ballot in August, and Ohio residents rejected it by 14 points.
Protecting reproductive freedom
Ohioans have the opportunity to join the residents of California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Vermont and Kansas who have either voted to codify abortion rights or rejected proposals that would have placed restrictions on the procedure.
They should take it. Not only would Ohioans be standing up for the right of residents to make personal medical decisions free from theological pressure, they’d also rebuke the deep-pocketed peddlers of misinformation who yearn to make us all live under the rules of their religions.