Issue 1, which protects decisions regarding contraception, miscarriage care, fertility treatment and continuing pregnancy in addition to abortion, passed with 2,186,962 voters signing off on the measure, per Ballotpedia. The measure also permits the state to restrict abortion after the fetus has reached viability, although those restrictions do not apply to instances when the pregnant patient’s health or life are at risk.
Reactions to the measure’s passage were predicably diverse with lawmakers, policy advocates and religious leaders taking strong public positions after the votes were tallied. President Joe Biden painted the decision as a response to conservative Republicans anti-abortion push on the federal level.
“Tonight, Americans once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms–and democracy won,” Biden said. “In Ohio, voters protected access to reproductive health in their state constitution. Ohioans and voters across the country rejected attempts by MAGA Republican elected officials to impose extreme abortion bans that put the health and lives of women in jeopardy, force women to travel hundreds of miles for care, and threaten to criminalize doctors and nurses for providing the health care that their patients need and that they are trained to provide.”
On the other side of the issue, Bishop Edward Malesic of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland said he will continue to fight for “every life, at every stage.”
“Today is a very sad, disheartening day for me, as I am sure it is for so many of you who have championed the great cause of upholding the sanctity of human life, from the moment of conception,” Malesic said. “Even though our efforts to overcome the enshrinement of abortion into our state constitution failed, we must never give up on the just cause to support a culture that values every life, at every stage.”
The religious leader called for more services for pregnant women who may be faced with challenging pregnancies and said services from places like the Christ Child Society and those offered by Catholic Charities can provide “physical, emotional and spiritual” support.
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"Kansas, California, Michigan, Montana, Kentucky, Vermont, and now Ohio. Voters continue to reject extremists’ plans to ban abortion. When we organize together and fight for our freedoms, we win."
J. Bennett Guess, executive director at the ACLU of Ohio, lauded the decision for its timing. “During a time where attacks on democracy are coming from all directions, Ohioans showed up to bring power back to the people,” Guess said. “This was not only a victory for reproductive freedom, but a win for our democratic principles and process.”
Guess added the approval provides legislative momentum as the 2024 election cycle heats up. He also called for additional protections for voters facing unfair electoral maps, which represents another expected hot-button free speech issue as next November approaches. “Just as we removed the intrusion of extremist politicians from our doctors’ offices, we must now remove partisan control of our redistricting process,” he added.