Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USA Today Network
Abortion rights supporters cheer at a gathering in Columbus, Ohio, on November 7, 2023, following the announcement of the projected passage of Issue 1.
Ohio will become the latest state to enshrine reproductive rights in its state constitution, CNN projects, continuing a winning trend for abortion rights advocates since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
With the passage of the ballot measure Issue 1, Ohio will be prevented from restricting abortion access before fetal viability, which doctors believe to be around 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After viability, the state can restrict abortion access unless the patient’s life or health are at risk.
The vote is yet another sign that abortion access is a key issue for voters across party lines, even in a state like Ohio, which has trended Republican in recent elections.
“Abortion access isn’t just a winning issue with voters; it’s a fundamental right that impacts every aspect of their lives,” Mini Timmaraju, the president of Reproductive Freedom for All, an abortion rights group, said in a statement. “Ohioans have now constitutionally guaranteed this right, and the nation is watching.”
It’s also a blow to state and national abortion opponents, who had hoped that their investment in the odd-year election would help turn the tide after losing a half-dozen abortion-related ballot initiatives in 2022.
Abortion opponents in Ohio vowed to keep fighting following Tuesday’s result. They attributed their loss to millions in outside money that flowed into the state and the ad campaign run by proponents of Issue 1. Though abortion opponents were outraised, both sides received help from around the country.
“We stand ready during this unthinkable time to advocate for women and the unborn, just as we have always done,” Protect Women Ohio, the main group working to oppose the ballot initiative, said in a statement. “We persevered for 50 years to overturn Roe v Wade. Ours is a movement that has always endured, and always will.”
At the center of the debate over Issue 1 was Ohio’s six-week abortion ban, which was blocked by a court last year but is being considered by the state Supreme Court. Abortion rights advocates argued that the only way to stop the law, which has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest, was to pass Issue 1.
In contrast, abortion opponents argued that the measure went too far and would prevent the state from enacting a consensus bill with exceptions. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who signed the six-week ban into law, campaigned heavily against Issue 1 and shot an ad urging Ohioans to vote “no.”
In August, Ohio voters defeated a measure that would have raised the threshold for passage of ballot initiatives to change the state constitution from a simple majority to 60%. The measure was viewed as an attempt to block the abortion rights amendment, and its failure was seen as a sign that the fall amendment would pass.
According to preliminary results of CNN’s Ohio exit poll, roughly 6 in 10 voters who turned out for Tuesday’s election expressed negative feelings about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. About 3 in 10 said abortion should be legal in all cases and about a third said that it should be legal in most cases.
This story has been updated with additional information.
CNN’s Ariel Edwards-Levy contributed to this report.
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