Reactions to Ohio Issue 1 and future abortion-related ballot measures

Voters in Ohio approved Issue 1 on Nov. 7, 2023. Issue 1 provided a state constitutional right to abortion, among other reproductive matters. The vote was 56.62% ‘Yes’ to 43.38% ‘No’.

Ohio Issue 1 is the fourth ballot measure to provide a state constitutional right to abortion. In 2022, voters in three other states—California, Michigan, and Vermont—approved ballot measures. These votes followed 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.

In Nov. 2024, voters in New York and Maryland will decide on ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. There are also proposed ballot measures related to abortion policies in at least nine other states. There are active ballot initiative campaigns in five states—Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, and South Dakota—to provide state constitutional rights to abortion.

President Joe Biden (D) and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) responded to voter approval of Issue 1. Vice President Harris said, “Voters turned out to safeguard reproductive rights and prevent extremists from enforcing an abortion ban that would harm women and criminalize doctors. The results in Ohio underscore what the vast majority of Americans believe: politicians should not interfere in decisions that should be between a woman and her doctor.”

Republican House Reps. Jennifer Gross, Bill Dean, Melanie Miller, and Beth Lear issued a statement, which said “legislators will consider removing jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative.” The state Legislature “alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws based on public hearings and input from legal experts on both sides,” read their statement.

Kellie Copeland, the executive director for Pro-Choice Ohio, which supported Issue 1, responded to the statement from the four House Republicans, saying, “The legislature’s certainly a threat and voters need to keep an eye on that … We’re going to make sure that, whether through legal action or political action, that the will of the people, that their constitutional right to abortion, to fertility treatment, to contraception, to continuing their pregnancy, all of that will remain protected.”

Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-93) responded to Issue 1, saying, “The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life. This is not the end of the conversation.” Senate President Matt Huffman (R-12) said, “This isn’t the end. It is really just the beginning of a revolving door of ballot campaigns to repeal or replace Issue 1.”

Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R) said that Republicans must come up with different strategies to counter abortion-related ballot initiatives in 2024. He stated, “I do think, given how big the state ballot referenda are going to be, whether they’re constitutional referenda or just statutory referenda, we’re going to have to figure out how to actually win these things, because this is now the battleground for the pro-life movement.”

Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, the executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, said Ohio Issue 1 is a “signal to keep pushing forward” and “when we put reproductive freedom before voters, we win.”

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