It Starts in Ohio: New Red State Playbook by Pro-Abortion Advocates

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Ohio voters surprised the country last November when an amendment passed that guaranteed abortion protections to its state constitution. 

The Ohio amendment, which passed in November with about 57% of the vote, said every individual “has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” including on abortion. And the state “shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against” the exercise of those rights.


The amendment was put on the ballot in response to more than a dozen states moving to ban abortions. Voters in Ohio and other states have been voting on ballot measures that provide broader legal rights than what the Supreme Court previously endorsed. Abortion rights plaintiffs are using a new weapon in litigation. 

After the Dobbs decision came down from the Supreme Court, Democrats ramped up the pro-abortion rhetoric. The hyperbole is strong, with Democrats all but claiming that pregnant women will be left in the streets to die instead of receiving care to save their lives in red states. That is how Democrats campaign in today's divided atmosphere - they scare voters. 

While Roe v Wade was the law of the land, abortion was legally protected at a national level. With the Dobbs decision, abortion is regulated on a state-by-state level, as long as it doesn't put an undue burden on a woman's access to it.

When the Supreme Court overruled Roe v Wade in 2022, abortion restrictions were made more vulnerable in some parts of the country. 

Abortion is a hot issue among Democrat voters who are trying to save democracy or something. Abortion is the only issue that Biden leads Trump on in polls. Now the issue is in play, on ballots in Florida, Arizona, and Missouri. Those states have restrictions similar to Ohio's.


“A lot of states after 2024 will be looking at this,” said Jessie Hill, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, who is representing abortion providers in the Ohio cases.

The Ohio challenges are in their early days, and judges have yet to rule in any of them. If the plaintiffs win these and future lawsuits, legal access in Ohio—where Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature—could look much like it does in Democratic-led states such as California and Illinois. 

It's a flex from what many Republican lawmakers thought conservatives wanted. Perhaps many conservatives want abortion laws that essentially ban abortion in a state - such as 6-week bans in a state like Texas, but that doesn't appear to be where most voters are on the subject. 

At six weeks, most women don't realize they are pregnant. That's the problem for pro-abortion people. It doesn't leave enough time to make arrangements to schedule an abortion if that is what the woman chooses to do. A majority of voters prefer a cut-off of 15-16 weeks. 

A heartbeat law in Ohio has been negated. The state's lawmakers passed more than 30 new abortion restrictions since 2011. Abortion rights groups say they hope to challenge every one of them in court.


“We’re not on the defense anymore,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of Abortion Forward, a state organization that recently rebranded from Pro-Choice Ohio. The state lost half of its clinics during the years of mounting restrictions, she said.

This will likely set a trend for other states. Abortion supporters will work to challenge state laws as they follow Ohio's lead. 

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