The US state of Ohio voted on Tuesday to include abortion rights in its constitution, a major victory for pro-choice campaigners in the state.
BBC’s American partner CBS News Projected a decisive victory for the amendment. Early returns showed that about 56% of voters in the conservative-leaning state supported it.
Its success is likely to boost Democrats’ hopes that abortion rights will remain a winning issue ahead of the elections in 2024. It also extends an undefeated record for ballot measures designed to protect abortion rights since the nationwide right to the procedure was struck down by the Supreme Court in the past day. Year. It is the seventh such measure to pass.
But Ohio’s measure, known as Issue 1, was widely seen as the toughest fight yet for abortion rights supporters because it was the first Republican-led state to explicitly guarantee the right. Had considered changing its constitution to give. This amendment would change the state constitution to include protections for abortion access.
It would establish “an individual right to one’s reproductive medical treatment”, including abortion, contraception and abortion care. Supporters of the amendment warned voters that unless it passed, more restrictive laws could be introduced, including a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy without exception. Abortion is currently legal in Ohio up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
As votes were still being counted in the early hours, there were emotional celebrations from pro-election supporters as US media speculated that the constitutional amendment would pass. “This is one of the greatest moments of my life, working hard with my team to win reproductive rights and freedom in Ohio.”
Kate Gilley told BBC A moment at the party. “We have two little girls and this is about their future and their reproductive rights,” said Frank Tedeschi, another person at the party.
This amendment would change the state constitution to include protections for abortion access. It would establish “an individual right to one’s reproductive medical treatment”, including abortion, contraception and abortion care.
It explicitly prohibits the state from “directly or indirectly burdening, penalizing, or prohibiting abortion” before viability, which is generally considered to be around 23 weeks of pregnancy. The amendment allows the state to prohibit abortion after the point of viability, except in cases where the patient’s doctor determines that the procedure is necessary to protect life or health.
Opponents of the measure have expressed concern over this element, telling voters that it would allow “late abortion” – a non-medical term that refers to abortion later in pregnancy. But supporters of Issue 1 argued that any abortion later in the pregnancy would require sign-off from a medical professional attesting to serious health concerns.
Ohio Republicans, who control the legislature and governorship, indicated they would introduce new ballot measures around abortion in response. Ohio House of Representatives Speaker Jason Stephens promised his supporters that “we will pursue multiple avenues to protect innocent lives.”
Tuesday’s result provides clues about voters’ views on abortion more than a year after Roe’s overthrow. Democrats, including President Joe Biden, will hope the issue continues to energize voters ahead of next year’s elections.
“Ohioans and voters across the country rejected the efforts of MAGA Republican elected officials to impose extreme abortion restrictions,” Mr. Biden said in a statement Tuesday night. Two other elections on Tuesday, one in Kentucky and the other in Virginia, will also impact abortion access in the coming months.
In the southern state of Kentucky, the re-election of Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, who ran ads attacking his opponent over his strict anti-abortion stance, is being considered a victory for activists fighting to maintain abortion access in the state .
And in Virginia, Democrats – who campaigned against Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s push to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy – gained control of both legislative chambers. The Ohio results are also being watched in Arizona and Missouri, both states considering adding similar ballot measures next year.