The campaigns supporting and opposing Ohio Issue 1, an amendment that would provide a state constitutional right to abortion, received a combined $71.60 million in contributions, as of the most recent campaign finance reports on Oct. 26.
Issue 1 would establish a state constitutional right to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including abortion, contraception, and other reproductive matters. Issue 1 would allow the state to restrict abortion after fetal viability, except when “necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
The ballot initiative is the most expensive abortion-related ballot measure election following Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and the most expensive one since at least 2009, when Ballotpedia began tracking ballot measure campaign finance. Before Ohio Issue 1, the most expensive was Michigan Proposal 3, which saw $69.2 million between support and opposition committees.
Ohio Issue 1 is the most expensive ballot measure election, in terms of campaign finance, in the state since 2017, when voters decided on the record-setting Issue 2, an initiative related to state agencies and prescription drug prices. Issue 2 saw $77.41 million in contributions.
The three ballot measure committees supporting Issue 1 raised $41.71 million in contributions, or 58.25% of the total between the campaigns, while the three committees opposed to Issue 1 raised $29.8 million.
Three PACs—Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, and Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights—registered to support Issue 1. Together, the PACs received $41.71 million.
Opponents also organized three PACs—Protect Women Ohio, Protect Women Ohio Action, and Protect Women Ohio Fund. The PACs also spent funds to support a constitutional amendment that was on the ballot for August 8, 2023, which would have increased the voter threshold to approve new constitutional amendments. Voters defeated the amendment. Together, the PACs reported $29.89 million in contributions and $27.6 million in expenditures.
Who are the top donors supporting Issue 1?
The top donors to the PACs supporting Issue 1 are:
- The Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization that has provided funding to ballot measure campaigns, donated $5.31 million.
- Lynn Schusterman, an Oklahoma-based philanthropist, donated $3.50 million.
- The Open Society Policy Center, a 501(c)(4) organization within the Open Society Foundations, donated $3.50 million
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) donated $3.30 million.
- The Planned Parenthood Action Fund reported $2.51 million
- The Fairness Project, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, donated $2.2 million.
Who are the top donors opposing Issue 1?
The top donors to the PACs opposing Issue 1 are:
- Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a 501(c)(4), donated $20.74 million.
- The Concord Fund, formerly known as the Judicial Crisis Network, reported $18.00 million.
- Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, donated $1.00 million.
- The Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Diocese of Columbus, and the Diocese of Cleveland, which are ecclesiastical jurisdictions of the Roman Catholic Church in Ohio, collectively donated $1.20 million.
In 2022, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which found there is no federal constitutional right to abortion, there were a total of six abortion-related measures on the ballot. The three ballot measures that had the support of organizations describing themselves as pro-choice were approved, while the three measures that had the support of organizations describing themselves as pro-life were defeated.
Since 2016, ballot measure committees describing themselves as pro-choice outraised the committees describing themselves as pro-life. The committees describing themselves as pro-life raised $30.91 million, and the committees describing themselves as pro-choice raised $85.80 million.