September 2023 Church & State Magazine - September 2023

In abortion-related vote, Ohioans reject move to make changes to the state constitution more difficult


In a blow to anti-abortion forces, voters in Ohio have rejected a proposal to make it more difficult to amend the state constitution. The move could make it easier for residents to buttress abortion rights later this year. 

 Republican officials in the state engineered the vote on Issue 1 Aug. 8. Currently in Ohio, the vote of a simple majority can change the Ohio Constitution. If Issue 1 had passed, a 60% vote would have been required.

The vote was widely seen as a proxy battle over abortion rights. Current law in Ohio bans abortions after six weeks, but Ohioans will vote on whether to overturn that law and enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution in November. Polls show that a majority of state residents support abortion rights, and anti-abortion groups had hoped to make it more difficult for the measure to pass.

The final vote on Issue 1 was 57% against the change and 43% in favor.

Dennis Willard, a spokesperson for the group One Person One Vote, which opposed the change, hailed the results.

“Tonight is a major victory for democracy in Ohio,” Willard said after news outlets declared that the measure had failed. “The majority still rules in Ohio.”

President Joe Biden also welcomed the results and said in a statement, “This measure was a blatant attempt to weaken voters’ voices and further erode the freedom of women to make their own health care decisions. Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won.”

Groups that favor legal abortion called the vote decisive.

“Opponents of abortion rights know they can’t win a fair fight this fall, so instead they tried to rig the game and thwart the will of the people under the guise of ‘good governance,’” said Jamie L. Manson, president of Catholics for Choice. “The passage of Issue 1 would have annihilated the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ and taken Ohio one giant step closer to minority rule.”

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