Abortion and a referendum in Ohio

The Story:

On November 7, voters in Ohio approved ballot initiative 1, thereby amending the state’s constitution to codify abortion rights in Ohio’s constitution. Ohio is generally considered a “red” state: one inclined to vote the Republican and conservative way. Yet the Republican Party has put itself on the losing side of an issue of personal rights — many women with a variety of political views on every other question expect that their daughters will have the sort of legal protections for their reproductive liberty that they had before the Dobbs decision last year, and they are re-creating that protection on a state by state basis.


The campaign over this initiative was enlivened by much discussion of, and litigation about, the language that would be on the ballot. There was reasonable suspicion that anti-abortion advocates in positions of authority were jiggering the wording to bring about their desired vote. One prominent conservative, and abortion opponent, Jude Russo, broke with fellow conservatives who were involved in this effort. He said, “[we] have failed to persuade the American people. Simply put: Lawyerly tricks (and tricky lawyers) are losers.”

The Thing to Know:

The vote on the initiative was not a close one. News organizations began to call this election for the “yes” side of the initiative about an hour and a half after the polls closed. As to next year, Maryland and New York have reproductive rights-related referendums on the ballot in 2024. Nine other states are in the process of putting them there.

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