Columbus area residents Beth and Kyle Long, deeply affected by their own experience with abortion, recently participated in early voting at the Franklin County Center. Beth, now 18 weeks pregnant through in vitro fertilization, had previously undergone an abortion at this same stage of pregnancy.
The fetus she was carrying had a fatal condition where all organs except the heart were growing outside the body, a situation with no chance of survival. Their personal story was highlighted in an advertisement for Issue 1, an amendment proposing to enshrine abortion and reproductive rights in Ohio’s constitution.
Ohio’s Critical Vote on Abortion Rights
The proposed constitutional amendment, Issue 1, is a crucial precursor to the 2024 elections. If passed, Ohio would join six other states that have affirmed abortion rights since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The amendment aims to prevent the reinstatement of a law restricting abortion to the early weeks of pregnancy.
A county court temporarily halted this law due to a lawsuit claiming it endangered women’s lives. The state’s Supreme Court, with justices known for opposing abortion rights, is currently reviewing this ruling. Amidst this, supporters and opponents of the amendment are actively campaigning across Ohio.
The amendment has sparked varied reactions. Aaron Baer, representing the Center for Christian Virtue, leads church efforts against it, citing its perceived radical nature. Opponents also argue it could eliminate parental consent laws for minors seeking abortions and extend abortion up to birth, a claim disputed by doctors and attorneys. Conversely, Katelin Hansen of the United Methodist Church supports the amendment as a matter of justice and wellness. Ohio, once a swing state, has leaned towards the Republican party in recent years. Still, polls suggest a significant portion of Ohioans support some abortion rights.
Republican Governor Mike DeWine opposes the amendment, labelling it extreme. However, he acknowledges public dissent on the six-week abortion ban he signed and suggests potential compromises if the amendment fails. In a contentious move, Republican lawmakers attempted to change the voting threshold for constitutional amendments, which was unsuccessful. Additionally, the Ohio Ballot Board, controlled by abortion rights opponents, approved controversial ballot language, raising further debate. This situation underscores the complex political and social landscape surrounding the issue of abortion rights in Ohio.